There are few bands these days that are straight-up rock and roll. Naturally, many are in the “genre,” but once in a while a band comes through town, grabs you by the neck, and demands your attention. This group is a three-piece that goes by the name Only Living Boy. You may recognize them from my Local Radar in the past, or you may have just seen them throughout the scene.
I recently had the chance to chat with Joe Cirotti, lead singer of Only Living Boy, about their new music, the local scene, live sets and so much more. As you will see below, there is a lot to look forward to!
For those who are unfamiliar, can you give us a brief backstory of the band? Spill your guts!
We’re just three friends from a small town in Northwest Jersey called Hackettstown. We learned our instruments together when we were kids; we would jam with other people a bit. At its core, it was always the three of us. Early on, Eric [Curley] played guitar so the two of us would always be trying to learn more advanced stuff and outdo each other. I think that period of our musical growth was one of the quickest and most productive.
Did you always know it would be a three-piece? Because you guys sound so full that if people didn’t see you live, it may be hard to imagine.
We didn’t plan on OLB being a three-piece or staying a three-piece. It just happened and it worked. The chemistry was there and it forced us to be stronger individually. I’m glad you hear us as “full” because it’s definitely intentional. We all bring as much to every song and performance as we can to contribute to the “size” without overplaying. It’s not about how many notes or fills we play; it’s how they’re played.
I think it’s safe to say you guys are well known in the music scene. How does it make you feel when I tell you that younger bands look up to you?
I’d like to think we’re known in the scene. We really love what we do and try to be the best we can be so I hope that translates to our fans and music lovers alike. I’m not entirely sure why a band would look up to us, but I’m humbled. They’re just like us. We’re just a couple of guys who love to play music, just trying put out something good, something that stands the test of time, something that makes a mark on a landscape of musical bullshit.
Can you describe your musical process? What comes first, writing or music?
The music usually comes first. I find myself trying to put lyrics to music more often than not. I hear music in my head constantly. Can’t really say that about lyrics. I’m always trying to be a better wordsmith.
Your last EP, Cool Collected Headcase, was amazing. What is up with the new music? Is it a lot different?
Thanks for the kind words about Cool Collected Headcase. It was an exciting EP to write and record, a lot of fun too. The new material is quite different whereas I thought the previous EP [Spread Your Butter] was really focused and borderline one-dimensional. The new one has many layers. It’s still rock and roll, but there are more sides of our musical taste than anything we’ve recorded before. I think people familiar with our music will be pleasantly surprised, maybe even caught off guard.
When can we expect a new release? Will you tour this record?
We are hoping to release it in March or April and will definitely be touring to support it. What is your favorite show that you have ever played?
It’s too hard to say where and when my favorite show was. There have been so many over the years.
Having toured a lot, is there a specific city you like the most?
I would say Austin, L.A. or Nashville were some of the best, but to be honest, the best times we’ve had have been right in our backyard. We’re proud to be Jersey born and raised, and we wear it like a badge everywhere we go.
Who are some of your musical influences?
There are so many talented and hungry artists here. From Hackettstown to Asbury Park and beyond, our state has introduced us to truly amazing players and songwriters. It’s inspiring. It makes me want to be a better musician myself.
What are your thoughts on the local music scene as a whole?
We’re proud to be Jersey born and raised and we wear it like a badge everywhere we go. We love the scene here and couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.
Cool Collected Headcase is available now. Find out more about Only Living Boy on their Facebook page at facebook.com/onlylivingboymusic.