We recently had a chance to catch up with Zak Kane, guitarist and lead singer of Pittsburgh band, Grand Piano. Grand Piano just finished a big concert opening spot for Gary Clark Jr. at Mr. Smalls April 2nd. The sextet’s debut album is due this June on Wild Kindness Records. The band consists of Tom Cipollone on guitar, pedal steel and vocals, Wes Conroy on bass, Ryan Booth on baritone and tenor saxophones, Nick DeAngelo on drums and Bob Kircher on trumpet.
Sound Scene Express: What’s the origin of your band name, Grand Piano?
Zak Kane: We have a pretty big sound and grand piano expresses all audible frequencies…plus we don’t even feature a piano so it was pretty funny to us.
SSE: What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?
ZK: We draw influences from rock, blues and jazz. Gram Parsons and the Misfits.
SSE: How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?
ZK: Since we were young boys.
SSE: Who writes your song lyrics? What is your inspiration?
ZK: I write the vast majority of lyrics. My inspiration is curiosity.
SSE: What are your day jobs? If any.
ZK: Ryan is a scientist. Wes is a live sound engineer. Thomas is an A/V tech. Bob does construction. Nick is a painter and music teacher. And nobody knows what I do.
SSE: Why did you create an EP about bugs?
ZK: Because bugs are neat.
SSE: How did you get the chance to open for Gary Clark Jr.
ZK: We received an e-mail from Opus One Productions about possibly opening for him and sent Gary some of our links. It was ultimately his decision in the end, so we were pretty stoked to be able to share the stage.
SSE: How far have you travelled to perform a gig?
ZK: We have been traveling regionally anywhere from Detroit to NYC and have plans of heading to the Midwest this spring. We also plan on touring extensively throughout the year.
SSE: When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
ZK: Grand Piano formed three years ago. We have been making music in some form or another with each other for over 10 years so it just made sense to keep working together.
SSE: Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues?
ZK: We’ve performed anywhere from dive bars to larger stages, such as Mr. Small’s with Gary Clark Jr., and even large outdoor venues such as Three Rivers Arts Festival main stage. All of them have had special moments for us. There’s nothing bad about being in a rock band. People are great!
SSE: What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
ZK: Rehearsals are always fun and loose but down to business. We do stick to a schedule weekly but sometimes there are spontaneous nights that we have to get together. We also practice in two’s or three’s to work out arrangements and such when other members aren’t available.
SSE: What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune?
ZK: To keep making music.
SSE: How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?
ZK: Saturday April 12th, Elks Lodge #339, Pittsburgh, PA
Friday, May 16, Daytrotter, Rock Island, IL
Friday, May 16th, Elbow Room, Chicago, IL
Saturday, July 12th, Deutschtown Music Festival, Pittsburgh, PA
SSE: Is there any thing else you would like to add?
ZK: Thanks for taking interest in us and showing support! See you at a show.