When thinking of an iconic way to end 2017, nothing could top this achievement: back to back sold out nights at The Stone Pony. This legendary music venue has hosted so many music legends over the years, putting Asbury Park on the map. You might be asking yourself, “Who had the pleasure of closing out the year?” The answer is Work In Progress.
New Jersey natives who could not have been more grateful to hold that slot. I had the pleasure of sitting down with all six of the band members, including a household name many of you may recognize from the hit show, Stranger Things, Gaten Matarazzo. Only having a couple months of practice and jam time under their belts, they are certainly already professionals with their eye on the prize; making music they love to perform.
Upon walking into the green room, they all had an energy I hadn’t experienced in quite some time. Working in this business, you see many bands come through town who have been doing this for years, and are at times jaded to how cool it is. I must admit, it was so refreshing to see how excited they were to be sharing their talents with their fans. After all, they’ve only been doing this for a short period of time (however, their live set would never show it, as they are already pros on the stage). I was already excited to be there, but their energy made the interview go so smooth as they were ready and eager to tell me a little bit about themselves. Note: we decided to conduct this conversation in group style, as I really got to know a lot more about what these awesome talents had to offer.
Work In Progress are not just friends, some are family! Members Gaten (lead vocals), Sabrina (lead vocals), and Carmen (drums and vocals) are brothers and sister, however don’t get it twisted; they aren’t the “modern day Partridge Family” as we all laughed in the dressing room. And of course, they are joined by Matt (bass and vocals), Griffin (lead guitar and vocals), and Chad (rhythm guitar, vocals). Going into this interview with an open mind, I asked them all to go around the room and tell me a bit about themselves. To my surprise, each member has many talents, and they all sing! I asked them ahead of time who is usually the one to “speak” on behalf of the band, and they all laughed and pointed at Gaten. However, they all let me in on their musical voyage, eagerly and openly.
Gaten: As you can see, we all sing! (laughs)
Yes, that is super cool! I don’t know many six pieces that everyone can do vocals, it makes you all stand out. Now I must ask, how long have you all be doing this?
Group: It’s only been a couple of months! It originally wasn’t all of us, we did some shuffling around, and now we’re all here! … We all like to be as dedicated as possible as musicians and not get distracted. We finally found the perfect pieces.
Work In Progress; the name seems kind of self-explanatory, is the meaning behind it that easy?
Group: When it was just the four of us, we had a totally different name. Big Gaten (Mr. Matarazzo), once said, “Wow, you guys are like a work on a progress, aren’t you?”
Sabrina: We were like, BING! That’s it.
Gaten: What’s funny is, when they got to their first gig at a grill in town, someone called us The Working Progress. (Laughs)
Oh no! But that’s okay, are you guys too young to have seen the movie, That Thing You Do?
Group: Some of us, yes.
Sabrina: Yes! The Wonders were the OH-NEED-ERS.
As you can see that all worked out for them! (Laughs) So you just sold out two nights at The Stone Pony, that is incredible. I know many bands that don’t get to do that in their entire careers and you all are just starting out! You must be ecstatic.
Group: Yes! We’re all so excited.
What made you guys pick this place?
Group: It’s legendary!
Carmen: I also recently had a friend that played here and talked about how much they loved the venue, and the sound and staff, so it made us excited.
Gaten: Any successful musician from New Jersey has played here at some point; most of them started here. This is our start!
Matt: This is our first big gig, so it’s an awesome way to start.
Sabrina: It was such an adrenaline rush last night. Sometimes I get out of breath on certain songs, but even if I was at one point, I was so into it I didn’t even realize it! After the first song, the nerves were gone.
On that note, how do you guys pick what songs you all play?
Chad: We just like picking songs that we all like to play and jam! It’s easy, we all have a broad range of music likes. There are so many songs to choose from.
Gaten: Some cover bands focus on a specific genre, or specific type of rock, where they almost need an “identity” or to have their thing. We don’t feel that way; we don’t need to just play one genre! We just want to play music that everyone likes, that we like ourselves. Not many bands go from Red Hot Chili Peppers, to Paramore, to Sublime, so it’s a nice setlist!
I agree 100 percent, there is a little something in there for all fans of all ages and genres of music.
Chad: Rolling Stones to Kelly Clarkson! (Laughs)
Yes! I love that.
Group: We also feel playing a bunch of different genres of music will benefit us when we start recording original songs.
Sabrina: We won’t be tied down to one genre, at all when recording our originals. Plus, there is usually only one lead singer, but we have six! (Laughs)
Absolutely, you guys certainly have something that most don’t, and that’s super cool! Are there any specific artists you like covering the most? Go around the room and fire it off!
Carmen: Foo Fighters, Taylor Hawkins and Dave Grohl are my favorite drummers. They’re just amazing musicians to me.
Griffin: Anything that has a cool feel. I really like The Fratellis, The Black Keys, anything in the rock genre.
Gaten: Pearl Jam and Green Day, it’s a tie. Green Day was one of my first concerts, we’ve loved them our whole lives. Also, my dad loves Pearl Jam. We’ve seen them a lot of times, and he got me into them. Eddie Vedder’s voice was one I was also fond of immediately, I feel comfortable singing his songs, and Billie Joe Armstrong!
Matt: Pearl Jam. Ten is such an amazing album. From beginning to end, I love that whole album so much. I could listen to it straight through over and over.
Chad: It’s so hard to pick! Pearl Jam is up there, I really like Led Zeppelin, Stone Temple Pilots; I would love to bring them to this group.
Sabrina: I love Paramore. Hayley Williams has always been a huge inspiration to me. Growing up, it’s always been her. Maybe one day we can bring in some My Chemical Romance, that would be rad!
I love these choices. Now you guys are ending 2017 on an extremely high note, so congrats to you all. What does 2018 have in store for you guys?
Sabrina: Hopefully more venues, a lot more shows.
Group: Yes, more shows!
Sabrina: We also are going to be working on some more originals, we have a few in the works now.
Gaten: Our style is going to be different, we won’t be tied down to one genre as we said.
Chad: Absolutely, it’s going to be our own, and really fun.
Sabrina: And we can tailor our songs to each singer, we have a ton of vocal range to work with.
Gaten: We have some high and really low vocal ranges in this group, it’s awesome!
Absolutely. Any other parting words you’d like to say to your fans?
Group: Thank you all so much for your support thus far! It’s overwhelming and awesome. These shows are more than we could have imagined. This is just the beginning.
Chad: If anyone can find Mr. T’s cereal, I have been looking for it everywhere! (We all laughed at this, but seriously, can someone find it for him? He really wants it!)
I promise someone is going to find it once we put this out there.
I can honestly say this was one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever had. Each member brings their own style, flair, and talent to the table, making this the perfect combination. Work In Progress are just getting started. Follow them on Instagram for more information on upcoming shows, music and more at Work_In_Progress_Band!
Catch Work In Progress playing Starland Ballroom on Saturday, Feb. 3.