Meet The Main Squeeze who plays Steamboat on Saturday
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — What started as a jam band at Indiana University has grooved its way into the spotlight across the country. Wherever The Main Squeeze plays, it blends rock, funk, blues and R&B into dance parties that keep feet tapping for days.
The Los Angeles-based five-piece is composed of Corey Frye on vocals, Max Newman on guitar, Ben “Smiley” Silverstein on keyboard, Rob Walker on bass and Reuben Gingrich on drums. They’ve opened for groups including Umphrey’s McGee, The Roots, Jane’s Addiction and Mac Miller, and at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, they’ll be playing on the Steamboat Stage in Gondola Square as part of the Bud Light Rocks the Boat Free Concert Series.
Explore Steamboat chatted with Silverstein to learn more about The Main Squeeze.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Explore Steamboat: How did The Main Squeeze first get together?
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Ben “Smiley” Silverstein: Myself and the guitar player, Max (Newman), had met at a sleep-away camp in Upstate New York, where we were playing music and teaching music to kids. The two of us were the head of the camp music department. Later, I went to school at Indiana University, and he joined me, and from there, we met the rest of the guys; our drummer lived on the same floor as Max during freshman year; I’d met our singer, Corey, at a bar, where we separately, drunkenly hopped on stage when a dueling pianos performance was on break, then we met afterwards. Eventually, we needed a singer, and he was the one. So, it all kind of came together at Indiana University at Bloomington.
ES: Tell me a bit about what everyone brings to the band.
BS: It’s very much a family. I feel like I’m married to four other guys. When we’re on tour we have a sound guy and a light guy and a tour manager, so we’re eight married men traveling the country. So, there’s a lot that goes into that. One of the things you learn over time is you step in when it’s your strength and take a step back when it’s someone else’s.
We all have our little roles. When it comes to the van, Corey (Frye) is in charge of when something goes wrong. Booking hotel rooms is Max (Newman); our drummer (Gingrich) is really good at making videos.
Our bass player, Rob (Walker), makes a lot of arrangements. We’ve probably performed our song “Dr. Funk” like 500 times. So before every tour, his role is making a new arrangement and a new way to perform that song live, so that when we go out there, we’re playing it a little differently; so when we go out we’re still excited and it’s fresh.
I used to manage and book the band the first couple years when we were first starting. I make the set list every night. But a lot of it’s done as a team.
What: Bud Light Rocks the Boat presents The Main Squeeze
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7
Where: Steamboat Resort, 2305 Mount Werner Circle
ES: A few years ago, the band moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. How did that affect the band and its music?
BS: The weather’s really beautiful, compared to Chicago. The music — there’s a lot of incredible collaborators here, and that’s really positively affected our music production. It’s allowed us to expand what we do. If it’s just the five of us in a room writing songs — we know what that’s like because we’ve done that a lot, but adding a new person to the mix and seeing how it works — that’s expanding. That’s been the best benefit, the collaboration aspect.
ES: If someone’s never heard The Main Squeeze, what three songs should they listen to to get a feel for your music?
BS: “Dr. Funk” and “I’ll Take Another.” Between the two of them they really capture the essence of what we do, funk and rock — the core of how we started. Then, “Little Bit” comes out (Friday, March 6), and that’s a great example of the newer songs we’re doing.
ES: What’s coming up for the band that you’re especially excited about?
BS: Oh man, it’s all the new music. We have so much new music from the past year that we’re about to start letting out to the world. It’s a really hard thing to have a group of songs that you love and are finished, and you have to hold them in. So, this is the year of release. We released one two weeks ago, another on Friday, another in late March and more from there.
ES: When you’re on tour in a new place, how do you like to explore?
BS: When we do have days off, it depends on the city. If it’s New Orleans, you explore the culture of the night life and music scene. The food and the culture; there was a call-to-action permaculture day, planting trees on the off day. Each city has its own thing. It’s nice to get in nature in some way; there’s a lot of beauty in this country. We try to just get out there.
ES: At the end of a Main Squeeze show, what do you hope the audience has taken from the experience?
BS: The main goal is for them to forget about everything else in their life when they’re at a show. There’s a lot of hardships that come from life. Coming to a Main Squeeze show is to be there in the moment … and let go of everything else. It’s beyond the music — it’s being surrounded by a community of people. The goal is for it to translate to life: you wake up the next morning and you can’t stop thinking about the night before, and you can bring that energy into your everyday life.
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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