Band: Perpetual Groove
Date: Friday, March 9, with doors at 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Soul Kitchen, 219 Dauphin St., www.soulkitchenmobile.com
Tickets $15-$35, available at venue, its website or by calling 1-866-777-8932
Since its mid ‘90s revival, the jam rock style popularized by bands such as Widespread Panic and Phish has been inundated with more modern aspects such as live-looping and EDM. However, some bands have remained true to the sounds that brought them notoriety.
With a new album expected this year, one such band, Perpetual Groove — PGroove — returns to Mobile with its serene, jazz-inspired brand of Southern jam rock that has changed very little since the band’s inception.
PGroove began to take shape 20 years ago when guitarist/vocalist Brock Butler and bassist Adam Perry met in Savannah. After moving to Athens, PGroove began expanding its audience around the Southeast and beyond, especially on the festival circuit. With each show, the band added to its dedicated legion of fans, who craved PGroove’s innovative sound, dominated by intricate rock overtures that are often instrumental.
When the band called a hiatus in 2013, PGroove fans were uncertain as to the band’s future. However, its 2015 revival and its moves since have proven PGroove’s legacy is far from over. Even though Butler is exploring his solo projects in Los Angeles, he knows PGroove still has music to be heard, both live and on wax.
“We’re still out there, and we’re at a point where everyone is getting along really well and communicating as friends, which translates musically and creatively,” Butler said. “Considering how much heavy and not-great things there are out there in the world, I’m grateful each and every day that I get to do my favorite thing in the world. I get to travel around and make music. It makes me happy, and I’ve only had positive things happen as a result of doing it.”
Since breaking its hiatus, PGroove has given its audience the 2016 EP “Familiar Stare,” which marked keyboardist John Hruby’s return to the band. Hruby joined the band for its 2007 release, “LiveLoveDie,” noted for its heavier rock edge and relatively abundant vocal work compared to the band’s previous studio efforts.
Even though the band’s latest EP release features the “LiveLoveDie” lineup, “Familiar Stare” balances the band’s archetypal instrumental style with more moderate lyrical work. Butler says tracks on “Familiar Stare” such as “Best of Anything” and “Fall” were written on the edge of the band’s hiatus and evolved over the years.
“I think it’s something to our credit,” Butler said. “I love STS9 [Sound Tribe Sector 9], but they don’t do the lyrical component. I also love singer-songwriter stuff. It’s a balance of what we do as a band. With the shows that we play, I think the best setlists are ones that have a nice balance of both things. The selection for ‘Familiar Stare’ is that same philosophy.”
Butler says “Familiar Stare” solidified Hruby’s role in PGroove and represents “a definitive lineup” 20 years in the making. Overall, Butler says, this lineup thrives from the musical chemistry they have established both on stage and on a personal level. He likens the group’s creative time together to musical conversations based on instinct.
“This is the squad,” Butler said. “I think there’s something special that is no substitution for what happens over time, when you communicate with these same people musically and all of the experiences that you go through both on stage and in a personal sense.”
PGroove’s followers will witness the band’s chemistry through its upcoming full-length release, the band’s first in seven years. Butler says their collaboration with producer/engineer Jason Kingsland (Band of Horses, Carl Broemel) has been exciting and has left them with an abundance of content from which to choose.
He adds the band is taking a different approach than usual. Past visits to the studio were governed by the band’s live show and whether they would be able to repeat studio arrangements in a live environment. This standard prevented PGroove from exploring new sounds through multiple layers of instrumental tracks. For the new album, Butler says, “no idea is a bad idea.”
“In the past, I’ve tried not to use too many tricks in the studio where, when we try to play it live, it’s impossible to do with 20 guitar overdubs and things like that,” Butler said. “I’m not saying it’s not going to be overdub craziness, but I’m not keeping in mind how a particular idea can be executed live. I want an album to stand alone as a piece of art.”
Another new aspect is the way in which the album was financed. PGroove utilized Kickstarter to generate funds for the effort. At this point in the band’s history, Butler and his bandmates realize PGroove’s live shows provide its members’ livelihood; a day off the road means a paid day of work missed. However, Butler says the group’s “strong and family-oriented” following gave them the confidence needed to start the campaign, which generated more than enough funds to create the album. Butler says he knew the band’s following would see this as an opportunity to be personally involved in their beloved group’s future.
“Our fan base is a good, polite audience,” Butler said. “I’d like to think PGroove has a nice vibe all the way around, and people want to be involved. They want to pass it to their friends and turn other people on … It means something to them. It’s another component of our dynamic.”