This Interview is linked from the Okeechobee Official Portal Guide.
Interview with The Ries Brothers
Charlie – Drums / Synth Bass / Vocals
Kevin – Guitar / Ukelele / melodica / theramin
SIGT: The Ries Brothers from Clearwater, Florida, what does it mean to you guys to be able to perform at Okee in your backyard of the Sunshine State?
Charlie: It’s massive. This is a festival we’ve kept our eye on since it started. It always was a big goal. As soon as the first year came out and we saw the lineup was crushing, we were like, one day we’re doing this one, no matter how long it takes, we’re going to work hard to get on this lineup sometime. So we are very honored because we had made it a goal a long time ago. To be in our home state is even better. It’s a gathering of music lovers from so many different scenes in one place for one weekend. It’s going to be amazing. So we’re just excited to get in that environment and to make new fans and see some old fans and just have a good time and make some connections with other bands and just make some new friends.
“a gathering of music lovers from so many different scenes”
SIGT: Can you tell me about your influences and the journey as a band together?
Charlie: For sure. My influence has come from rock and roll, Blues, alternative scene, and Kevin is the reggae guy that turned me on to all the reggae and the dub.
Kevin: Yeah, I love a lot of old school reggae from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and of course, all the new-school stuff. What got me hooked in the reggae scene was like Sublime first and then Slightly Stupid and went down the rabbit hole with all those bands. Then when I discovered The Roots, that’s when I really fell in love with reggae.
Charlie: Actually Gary Clark Jr. is a big inspiration, it’s a huge honor to share a bill with him. We take each other’s influences and put them together to become the rock and roll, Blues, reggae, and jam music that we are today.
SIGT: Do you think being from the Sunshine State has impacted your sound and your attitude as a band?
Charlie: I think definitely. It was such a unique place to grow up as a musician. It’s different from LA or Nashville where you might have more opportunity to be discovered, but in Florida you have more opportunity to gig. Every place is looking for live music, especially outdoor bars. So there were plenty of places for us to play and to learn how to work with an audience and learn how to craft the set and fill time. Florida is such a mix of people and of music, it’s really cool. I’m super thankful we grew up playing here.
SIGT: Both you guys are multi-instrumentalists. And how crucial is that for this project?
Charlie: Absolutely crucial. Nowadays you gotta do more than ever to catch people’s attention, especially just being a duo. From time to time we add other musicians, like we’re going to have a couple of other players back us up on a couple of songs at Okee. But for the most part, it’s just us two. So we had to do whatever we could to make the show interesting. Not let people get bored, try to keep everyone’s attention while just the two of us on stage.
SIGT: What keeps you guys going and experimenting as a band?
Kevin: I guess just listening to a lot of music and discovering new music. We’re constantly inspired by traveling, too, because we’re always on the move. Sometimes when you’re in the same place for too long, you get uninspired and you can’t really focus on new ideas. When you’re traveling constantly, new things are opening in your brain. It’s a lot easier to write stuff.
Charlie: And seeing other musicians and touring with other people and playing festivals with other bands. That’s particularly why we’re excited for Okee, to see other bands, because you can always learn something by seeing somebody else. That’s what keeps us going. We want to be the best we can be. There’s always room for improvement. We always have that drive. When you lose that, I think you’re in trouble. It’s super important to stay curious and motivated.
SIGT: What’s one thing you guys want to tell the fans of Okee?
Charlie: Give us a shot, come out and see us. We’re going to put on the best show possible. We want everyone to feel safe and welcome at the show and have a great time and let the musicianship shine. We care deeply about how the audience perceives us and how we want them to have as good of a time as we’re having. I promise that they will if they come out and see us.
Interview by Chuck Magid.
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