Interview: Catching up with Chestnut Grove

Interview: Catching up with Chestnut Grove

Photos: Frankie Cavone

Pennsylvania rock band Chestnut Grove has been performing together since their high school days back in 2011 and show no signs of slowing down. Every season of every year, the act comprised of Dee Gerhart, James Daniels, John Tyler, Gary Geers and Zach Winkler reach new heights and milestones and all the hard work looks to be paying off. From playing multiple festival dates a year to getting billed with the right acts, the future looks more than promising.

Not only have they perfected their live stage presence, that treat their fans well by continuing to write adding to an already widespread repertoire. We had the chance to talk to drummer/vocalist James Daniels while they were out playing with Consider the Source and here is what he had to add on what Chestnut Grove‘s mission is today:

How has fall tour been thus far? It looks like you guys are playing everywhere!

James: The end of summer/fall tour we have been on since July has been a great refresher of where the band was before covid really set us back. I am sure we can speak for a lot of bands it is good to be back to playing real shows in front of real crowds again. We have been making some serious strides the past 5 months and we look forward to seeing everyone on our NY New Years run. We will be at The Park Theater in Glens Falls, NY on 12.30.22 and at Unihog in Hoosick Falls on 12.31.22!

What was it like to have Consider The Source’s Jeff Mann sit in on multiple songs during your Putnam place performance?

J: Well first off its an honor and a privilege every time Jeff Mann plays with us. He recorded our new singles All for You, Can’t Stand the Music, No Stranger and some unreleased material that will be on the full album coming out next year. Jeff performed with us at XPoNential Music Festival this summer as well as a few other shows. He is playing with us again this Thursday when Chestnut Grove and CTS play Sellersville Theater. I have taken lessens from Jeff and Zach our Bass player is taking lessens from John.

You guys have released new music this year and are getting ready to release an LP of unreleased songs, how does it feel to have a constant steady stream of music for the fans?

J: It feels great, we wish we could afford to record all the time and put out more music. The good news is we are finishing up a full length record that will be out in 2023. Hopefully in Spring sometime between May and June is the idea.

Where do you find the time to write as much music as you do? It must take some discipline.

J: We have been in a band together since senior year of high school back in 2011. We have been writing together forever so at this point its just second nature. We all have side projects we are starting so that we can have an outlet for all the other material we are writing. All 5 of us bring a lot to the table so its really just a matter of sifting through all the ideas and finding what fits best together to make a record. We do stay very focused and disciplines though. We rehearse 2 to 3 days a week on average with a few weeks off throughout the year. This gives us the flexibility to rehearse and write constantly without ever feeling rushed. I give a lot of props to my band mates for being as focused as we all are for over 10 years.

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There’s no denying you guys can rock and get funky, but then you have tunes like “I know somebody” that will put a tear to your eye due to the powerful lyrics and “ballady” feel, what is the thought process behind “I Know Somebody”?

J: John Tyler wrote I know Somebody. Dee and I normally write a lot of our songs but John truly wrote one of the best ones. I think the song reflects on his parents divorce from when he was a child. The song also touches heavily on the subject of loss of a loved one. Its overall a tough song for me to sing live. I have to try not to get to emotionally involved in the lyrics while performing it so that I don’t start crying myself.

How do you arrange your set to allow for all the creativity that happens on stage?

J: every show is different, and I am the king of mid-set changes. I call audibles often based on the crowd’s mood. I do try and ease everyone into every show than make them dance their asses off before we make them cry and then we try and make the end of everyone show a good punch in the gut.

Who is a better drummer? James or Dee?

J: Jeff Mann is a better drummer!

When on tour, who does most of the driving? or do you all split it up?

J: John drives by far the most. I drive the 2nd most and everyone has driven when John and I are to drunk at the end of the night.

Benig from Pennsylvania, you guys do a lot of travelling to upstate, NY! When do you plan on moving into the area?

As much as we love upstate, NY we have no interest in moving. We love PA, and we are all dedicated Philly sports fans, But really we just want to tour the country and the world until we are to old to do it anymore. Upstate NY was the first place outside of PA to give us love. RIP Gugs days.

What other Pennsylvania based rising acts do you recommend people checking out?

J: Medusas Disco is the best band from PA hands down not even close. Also remember the name Jonathan Hayes. He is an unknown artist right now that is going to blow up in the next 5 years. Remember that I said it here first. PA has tons of great bands though. Mo Lowda & the Humble, Cosmic Guilt, and Electric Candlelight just to name a few.

What do the fans have to look forward to moving forward?

J: I have been saying this forever and I will continue to do so. We(Chestnut Grove) are just getting started, I say that cause I believe it. As cliché as it may be the sky is truly the limit for Chestnut Grove. We are a highly competitive and determined group of individuals and I think if we keep that mentality and focus we can accomplish a lot in this Industry. That said it’s the toughest industry in the world because there are millions of other great bands and artists to compete with.

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