Alan Smith had the good fortune to move to a house next to a group of musicians who had a band they called Davy And The Fat Boys. Before too long, they were all hanging out on Alan’s porch and he was learning how to join in on guitar. A few short years later he was writing songs and together they formed a new group they called The Porchistas, taking their name from the porch where they met, as well as the Latin influence Alan and fellow-guitarist Deivus Garcia brought.
Alan and Deivis are joined by drummer Dan Messenger, Adam Falzer on guitar, Tommy Lang on bass and Neal Winkowski on bass. “Neal recently broke his hand and we now have Tommy Lang playing with us,” explains Alan about having two bass players in the fold. “It is the nature of our band that we have a few backups on bass and drums. So Tommy is now our bassist, but fans will see Neal on stage when Tommy can’t make shows.”
Musically, the group is somewhat eclectic. “What we’ve been saying lately is it’s lyrically-driven throwback rock with punk, folk and pop flavors,” Alan states. “But the description changes a lot, and definitely changed from our last record.”
The diversity in their music comes from the wide range of influences each band member brings to the table… er, porch. Dan is partial to heavier bands such as Black Sabbath, Agent Orange, Kyuss and Pink Floyd. Adam leans toward singer/songwriters such as Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman and Leonard Cohen, with a dose of Jimi Hendrix thrown in for good measure. Alan prefers bands such as Ween, Strummer, Flaming Lips and Social Distortion. Tommy brings in some punk influence from Black Flag, though he cites the Bee Gees as well. Neal‘s favorites include Elvis Costello and Todd Snyder.
Dan and Alan usually bring the melody, lyrics and song structure to the band, and the bass and drums develop on their own. Everyone has suggestions and the songs develop from there. Alan and Adam often come up with ideas that they develop through conversations around the house or in the home studio. Fans seem to universally love “The PBR Song,” and the band is partial to tunes such as “Nuke the World,” “Los Pescadores de Puntarenas” and “Johnny Miner.”
“Adam and I have developed a chemistry over the past few years that we’re real happy with, and that feels like it has evolved,” relates Alan. “As long as we enjoy the process of making songs and it feels like it’s growing, we’ll keep doing it. And we’ve been lucky with the musicians that we’ve able to bring in our band. Dan, Neal and Tommy all fit perfectly with what we do and they enjoy it and we share important things like a sense of humor and lifestyle. We all like beer, and we like being around each other.”
With two new releases, a busy performing schedule and continuous writing and recording, The Porchistas look to a bright future. They’ve certainly come a long way from the days of the front porch, and from scheming at open mic nights to get to play their songs together, as Alan recalls. “When I first started playing guitar I was thrown off stage at an open mic at Tierney’s Tavern,” he laughs. “I thought it was because my song sucked, but it turned out the people who hosted the open mic were aggravated because four friends, all eventual Porchistas, signed up right in a row so we could play and sing on each other’s songs. The hosts thought we were dominating the open mic, although they let us sign up in a row. I got thrown off after the first song and refused to leave stage because I had two songs left. This led to a shouting match on stage in front of the audience!”
As for the future, the group hopes to continue on its upward path, and to someday start reaping some of the rewards of their work together. “We’d like to be able to make money instead of losing it exponentially, as is the case now,” Alan jokes. “Whereas it seems like our music has gotten better, our wallets have gotten smaller. So we’d like to be able to sustain ourselves via the band.”
You can get more information about the Porchistas, hear their music, and find out where you can see them, by checking out theporchistas.com, facebook.com/porchistas and sonicbids.com/theporchistas.