The Alchemystics | Demse Zullo's long journey to Spread Hope | May 2011
The Alchemystics take rap, soul, and funk, and fuse it to roots reggae; then add in conscious lyrics. They’re a whole-package group out of Western Massachusetts. Their upcoming album, Spread Hope, will be released on Saturday, May 14th 2011 with a party at the Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, MA. On Monday, May 23rd, you’ll be able to download the album- all 16 tracks- for $8.99 on iTunes. Drummer and co-producer for the band, Demse Zullo, touched base with Angelica Music as they prepare for the album’s release.
Tell me how the upcoming album’s going.
The record’s being recorded in a studio that the bass player, Garrett (Sawyer), and I are co-owners of (Northfire Recording Studio). The keyboard player, Jay (Metcalf), is actually director of operations.
Now, being a commercial recording studio, everyone tells us, “Oh, it must be so great; you can record whenever you want.” Not the case, if you want to pay the bills. It’s actually hard to get into our own studio. The majority of us have kids and businesses. It’s taken us three years to get the record done. Now, we’re going into mastering tomorrow. I’m finishing the CD cover and layout in the next few days, so we’ll be in duplication by the end of the week.
Did you start Northfire Studios prior to starting the Alchemystics?
Ras Jahn, Garrett, and I all met years ago when we went to audition for this kora player’s group. When I saw Garrett, it was like, “Wait, don’t I know you?” And Garrett and I- ten years ago- originally met at a jazz summer camp in New Haven, Connecticut, where we’re both from, in ’95. On top that, we were involved in completely separate scenes in an old, historical hardcore punk club in New Haven, called the Tuneinn and Garrett was a ska kid and I was a hardcore punk kid, so, our paths never crossed.
Then, ten years later, we’re trying out for this African group. We both got the gig and wound up becoming like brothers. I wanted to start a group mixing up reggae, hip/hop, and soul music. That was when we built the foundation for the Alchemystics' sound. We had Garett and I, and an MC then, Phaze, now a member of Danny Pease and The Regulators. At the same time the African group we were playing in broke up, Ras Jahn said, “Hey, I’ve got this reggae band called Loose Caboose- that's been together thirty-five years- on the east coast. You want to be the new rhythm section?” So then we were in Loose Caboose. At the same time, we started writing a few songs and having weekly jam sessions at my house, looking for folks to join the mix of this band we were creating. After six months of checking out a few folks, Phaze brought over Jay Metcalf, who was not too familiar with the musical territories we were charting, but was willing to experiment with us. We finally named the project and started playing all over. We released a three-song demo. Things started to slowly build.