Earl Greyhound: Rock Your Face

Listen to Earl Greyhound on MySpace...

By: Michael Kaiz

Earl Greyhound
Attitude. Earl Greyhound has that in-your-face, rock-or-get-out attitude of serious musicians focused on their craft. Their swagger on stage speaks of it. The thundering verses in their tunes exude it. If you can't handle rock, Earl Greyhound will roll over you like a bulldozer. Matt Whyte and Kamara Thomas screech out indelible leads with their nimble fingers and supple vocal chords, supported by the heavy foundation of power drummer Ricc Sheridan.

When I first met Sheridan, he had just come off the stage but was still cool as a cat. His rich baritone voice reminds me of James Earl Jones in any role other than Darth Vader. As steady as can be, Sheridan fits the mold of everything you'd want in a rock drummer. He joined Whyte and Thomas about a year ago, and in that time Thomas says, "He's brought that really monster, heavy groove to what we're doing."

But what is it that Thomas and Whyte were doing before Sheridan came along. "Matt and I were both singer-songwriters in our own right," says Thomas. Singer-songwriters with a decidedly country-folk sound reminiscent of Gram Parsons. When they're not on the road, Whyte and Thomas perform with the Honkytonk Happy Hour, a collection of New York area musicians simmering down on Sunday nights for the past two years. The Happy Hour leans towards a relaxed country sound, using the near universal musical language of American folk.

Kamara Thomas by Doron Gild
The dynamic songwriting pair also play in Larune, a musical vessel for Thomas' potent voice. In Larune, Thomas sets down her bass for an acoustic guitar and Whyte mans the piano and contributes vocals. This project has a mellow country feel, in sharp contrast with Earl Greyhound's heavy rock sound.

"Figuring out how our creativity was going to work together took a little time to master," observes Thomas. Not only did the pair have to learn about each other, they were also pursuing a new style in Earl Greyhound. "Matt wanted to start a rock band so it was different. The material he wanted to write for the rock band was very different from the singer-songwriter stuff that he was doing."

You still hear the elements of their singer-songwriter roots in Earl Greyhound. The sophistication of Whyte's lyrical structure could only come from a musician who had to rely on his voice as the sole accompaniment for his guitar. But, the vocal dynamic in EG is pure rock. "Because of the songs that Matt was writing, I got to sing in a very different way from how I do in my solo work," Thomas says. "I've been able to explore this whole other side of my voice."

"S.O.S.," the first song on their latest album, Soft Targets (released 8/8/06 on Some Records), is a great example of how the band's vocal talent work together. Whyte's edgy lead vocals sit as an extant layer among the band's groove. Thomas adds delicate harmonies that mirror the lush overtones of a properly driven tube amp. She can also belt out powerful and sinuous notes that she holds aloft like a feather in the wind. Right after Thomas let's it ring, half way into the song the band breaks down with a splash of Sheridan's cymbals and Whyte's guitar playing a rhythmically intrinsic progression. After a few bars, all three members harmonize in a dark theme that builds in intensity until Thomas' bass and Sheridan's drums return. The band then crashes down to return to the song's opening theme, which is now spiced with a feeling of resolution.


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