Altered Five Is ‘Earning It’ On Their New Album

Written by on November 19, 2012 in Interviews, News, News To Shout About!, November 15, 2012 - Comments Off on Altered Five Is ‘Earning It’ On Their New Album

Altered Five Is ‘Earning It’ On Their New Album

Proclaimed “a staple of the Midwest’s band scene” and “a festival favorite” by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Altered Five’s delectable brew of blues and soul has a wide audience taking notice. The group’s sophomore album, Gotta Earn It, is a ten-song set featuring seven originals.  Altered Five  – consisting of JT Taylor (lead vocals); Jeff Schroedl (guitars); Ray Tevisck (keyboards); Mark Solveson (bass); and Scott Schroedl (drums) – formed in 2002 and quickly gained a reputation for its inventive arrangements and distinctive sound.



All Access Magazine Editor/Publisher Debra Stocker (AAM) recently interviewed guitarist Jeff Schroedl (JS) about the new record and what’s going on with the band. Here’s how it went.  AAM: When did Altered Five first form as a band, and how did you arrive at the band’s name?

JS: We formed in 2002. A few of us had played together in different musical situations. We wanted to find something unique that played to our strengths and, after connecting with (our lead singer) JT, naturally built our sound around his voice. The name Altered Five sprang from a few different tracks. The sound is a blend of the five of us, and we aimed to leverage our individual styles to develop our own thing. Early on, we also often enjoyed arranging well-known songs in a bluse-y style, so the name also fit that approach. Of course, the name is also a play on words with the musical term for altering the fifth of a chord–but that’s pretty inside!

AAM: Let’s discuss some of the songs on your new album, ‘Gotta Earn It.’ What can listeners expect to hear?

JS: Our sound falls somewhere between old-school Motown and Chicago Blues. It’s a powerful, blues voice on top of a tight R&B-style rhythm section with keys and lots of guitar. Lyrically, there are themes of regret, rebound, desire, and much more.

AAM: In describing Altered Five’s sound as blues-rock, what aspects of the group’s music sound like the blues, and which sound like rock?

JS: We’re really more blues-soul than blues-rock but whatever someone wants to label us is fine. We probably don’t fit tightly in any one genre. Vocals, solos, and lyrics lean more blues but some of the grooves and arrangements are clearly rock- and soul-based. The guitar tones are pretty stripped down with very few effects. On the other hand, we have some catchy choruses which probably appeal to listeners coming from R&B and rock. The album includes two shuffles but they are not your typical Chicago-style shuffles; again, we try to bring our own twist to things.

AAM: Why did the band choose to cover Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar?”

JS: New York City-based blues author and journalist Dave Rubin made the suggestion a few years ago. He has a great ear and really “gets it” when it comes to our sound. JT is a big fan of early Marvin Gaye and has always liked the song. It hasn’t been covered by many artists, and the lyric really transfers well to the blues. We felt we could bring something new to the song by giving the melody and rhythm a bluesier edge, and it turned out really well. Hopefully people like it.

AAM: What’s the live music scene like in the Midwest, where Altered Five hail from?

JS: We’re able to play consistently, and the summer festival season is especially active. That said, not as many clubs are able to support a five-piece band. There are more opportunities for leaner acts like trios and duos. We’ve never wavered from our sound, though, and always perform with five. Cover bands are very popular in the Midwest, so many people see us as a good alternative to the typical live music experience. One more thing: People really like to dance so, when we play live, some of our funkier tunes and shuffles go over well. We perform mostly in the Milwaukee and Madison areas but occasionally get to Chicago, Minneapolis and elsewhere. If a blues festival or other special event calls, we’re there!

AAM: Who would you readily cite as some of the group’s main musical influences, be they alive or deceased?

 JS: Old-school Motown and Stax recordings. In no particular order, artists like The Ford Blues Band, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Sly & The Family Stone, Robert Cray, Albert Collins, Hendrix, Pat Travers, Dwight Yoakam, the three Kings, Al Green, Isaac Hayes, Z.Z. Hill, Bobby Blue Bland. We also have some deep roots in rock and jazz. Our music is melting pot for sure.

AAM: Does Altered Five have a five-year band plan for success, and if so, what is it?

 JS: We’ve talked about different stepping stones but, really, we’re just trying to get heard and hopefully attract new listeners. These days, you have to build from your base and gradually expand. This is our second album, and we’re really trying to get it out and develop our following. Hopefully it leads to bigger and better things. Meanwhile, we’re always writing and adding new songs. As long as we keep moving forward, we’ll be alright.