Fourth Coast Entertainment -

By John Berbrich
FCE Staff 

Interview with Sirsy

 

Sirsy

Way back in August 2016, a friend suggested I go to the marvelous Ives Park Concert Series in Potsdam, New York, to see The Band Sirsy. "They're really great," she said. I had never heard of The Band, but we had nothing else to do that night so we went. And we were so glad. Sirsy is an exciting two-piece band with Melanie Krahmer on drums and lead vocals and Rich Libutti on lead guitar. Plus, Melanie plays flute and they both play bass; Rich seems to use some foot pedals that control the bass, while Melanie whacks a kind of drum-pad with her drumstick-the pad plays individual bass notes and also plays sequences, the tone of which she can alter with just one swat. Her voice reminds me a little of Roni Spector. Rich rocks on guitar-he can play it gentle or jagged or provide just the perfect atmospheric ambience. They are from Saratoga, but are always touring, often through New England and the northeast states. I managed to get them to sit still for a few minutes.

John Berbrich: Melanie, I've seen several lead singers who played drums, but you're the first to play the drums while standing. Did you start out that way?

Melanie Krahmer: I started playing drums standing up because I was a singer before I was a drummer. As a singer, all of your breath support comes from your diaphragm. So it's much easier to get a good breath while you're standing. Also, when I play live, standing allows me to dance while I play. It's a very different energy than I'd have if I was sitting. When I record drum tracks, I do that sitting with a more traditional set up. It's much easier to drum sitting down, but I always have to get used to it because we play live so much. Sitting allows me to have a bit more versatility with the hi-hat and kick on the recording.

John: Rich, who are a few of your all-time guitar heroes?

Rich Libutti: When I first started playing an instrument, it was bass, so I never really idolized guitarists. I always strived to play bass like Paul McCartney and Sting. I liked that they were able to play melodic lines while still keeping the songs grounded. As I morphed into a guitarist I gravitated towards players that were songwriters like George Harrison, Lenny Kravitz, Prince, Lindsey Buckingham, and Matt Bellamy (Muse). I also love the unique, creative, crazy sounds/techniques that Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) uses when he plays live.

John: You two create an amazing amount of music during a live performance. Have you ever considered adding one or two more players?

Rich: Nope! We like what we've got going on. 

John: Mel, does the name Sirsy have any connection to the ancient Greek sorceress Circe?

Melanie: Actually our band name came from a childhood nickname of mine. When I was a little girl, my sister called me "sirsy" instead of "sister" or "sissy". We spelled it phonetically, probably because we were little kids. When Rich and I were looking for a band name, I suggested it since it was personal and not an actual word. I thought we'd be the only one to use it. Little did I know the Greek sorceress had a similar pronunciation and it would cause all kinds of ruckus!

John: You write all The Band's lyrics. Who writes the music?

Melanie: Yes, I write all the lyrics. Rich and I co-write the music.

John: How do you two have time to come up with new songs-you're always on the road?

Melanie: It's definitely tough to find quiet time to write because we tour so much. However, I often come up with lyrics while Rich is driving us in the van from place to place-he does 99% of the driving. New song ideas often come out of sound check. Sometimes Rich will be messing around with the guitar in sound check and play something new that we both like. We'll record it on our cell phones to work on at a later date. We usually write the music first and the lyrics come later.

And then they were off on another tour, this one taking them into the Deep South. I own two Sirsy CDs, "Coming into Frame" and "Live in Youngstown." "Coming into Frame" starts off with a real studio rocker, "Cannonball," which they are able to reproduce very well on the live CD. Check them out online. The Band has a website, a Facebook page, and their videos are all over YouTube. Seriously, if you get an opportunity to see this band live, please do it. For two people they make enough music in concert for four or five players. I've seldom seen a band create so many excellent sounds while having so much fun on stage.

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