by Gus Marshall
The True Loves are a high-octane, horn-heavy, syncopated soul outfit based out of Seattle, Washington. Founded 7 years ago by drummer David McGraw and bassist Bryant Moore as a means to get together and jam, the True Loves have blossomed, seemingly overnight, into a world-traveled, in-demand, headlining attraction.
An 8-piece powerhouse groove machine drenched in funk, the True Loves have the ability to deliver an onslaught of straight forward original instrumental soul, funk and rhythm-and-blues. Compelling horn arrangements rise and swell, on top of an esteemed pocket-driven rhythm section, led by the illustrious South Seattle bred guitarist Mr. Jimmy James.
This South End supergroup will be taking it to the stage Friday November 29 and Saturday November 30, for a rare two-night engagement at Beacon Hill’s Clock-Out Lounge.
Bassist and co-founder Bryant Moore, spoke with the South Seattle Emerald about the True Loves origins, the importance of music in his life, and his understanding of the pocket. (The pocket is a term in reference to a rhythm section’s tempo standards, in relation to the feel of the groove. It’s a term musicians covet, though not easily defined. It has many different interpretations and meanings, depending on who happens to be speaking on it.)
Gus Marshall: What brought you to the South End?
Bryant Moore: A job at Lottie’s Lounge bartending.
GM: How long have you worked at Lottie’s?
BM: I will have worked at Lottie’s 13 years, come next spring.
GM: Wow. That’s pretty impressive.
BM: It’s kind of nuts.
GM: What was your first exposure to a really funky bass line?
BM: It was probably stuff like Michael Jackson, like off Thriller. I can remember listening to that when I was four or five years old. I was a pretty big fan of Thriller. I didn’t really get the ‘playing music’ bug until I was in middle school, and heard stuff like Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.
GM: What kind of impact did funky bass playing have on you?
BM: I don’t know if it has to be funky. I just think I kind of took to the bass because it was easy, and I can kind of hear what I am suppose to play most of the time. But it wasn’t a conscious choice to choose bass, it just kind of chose me. I think to be funky though, you need to have good time and rhythm. I don’t know if that answers your question at all.
GM: What is your favorite bass line of all time?
BM: I really like Led Zeppelin’s Ramble On by John Paul Jones. I can remember really loving that bass line, as far as bass lines go. I grew up listening to a lot of the Beatles, and there’s a lot of good Beatles bass lines on songs. I think a really masterful one is James Jamerson’s on What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted. He plays a lot of pedal tones against this beautiful chord progression that’s moving, and he really doesn’t do that much. You would have to be a master to do that, I think.
GM: How did the True Loves come to be?
BM: In 2013, or maybe just the end of 2012, me and Dave McGraw the drummer started to get together to jam, and drink beers, smoke pot, just to kind of have fun. We tried out somewhere between six and ten different guitar players for over a year to jam with. And nobody was really sticking. Then we started playing with Ben Bloom from the Polyrhythmics, and that was awesome. We played one or two improv gigs, in either the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014, with him and Oluo and Thomas Deakin. And we called that the Imperials. I think we just played two shows though.
And then we started jamming with Jabrille [Jimmy James] in about February of 2014. That clicked real good. So then Jabrille and Dave and I started playing regularly, trying to write material. And we invited Ivan Galvez on percussion to come play with us, and brought in Anthony Warner on keys, and kind of started developing a band. And then Grace [Love] showed up shortly thereafter. I think we were in the recording studio very soon after that, like in June of 2014. Scott Morning wrote all the horn charts, with the exception of one chart that Jason Cressey on trombone wrote.
We released a single first in 2015, the Fire single. Then the album came out later that summer in 2015. Pretty much from the first gig we played in August of 2014, we started getting booked all over the place. It was kind of crazy how quickly it took off. So we played a lot of gigs from August 2014 until we quit playing with Grace in 2016, in August as well.
GM: What is your understanding or definition of the pocket?
BM: Well, playing in the pocket means that you don’t play ahead of where the beat is, and it makes you play a little bit behind where the beat is, but you stay in that pocket, wherever you decide to play on the beat. I guess you could be ahead of the beat as long as you stay in the same pocket, does that make sense? Wherever the beat lies, if your gonna play in the pocket, and you wanna play behind the beat, you have to stay behind the beat, in the same spot, to play in the pocket. You definitely cannot rush the beat to play in the pocket.
GM: What is the importance of the pocket?
BM: If you want people to take you seriously, you need to play in the pocket. If you want people to believe you are playing music, you have to play with good time. If you don’t play with good time, no one is going to take you seriously as a musician. So it is of great importance to play in the pocket on anything, not just funk music.
GM: What is the songwriting process for the True Loves?
BM: It has evolved. It first started with me, Dave and Jabrille getting together, and just writing songs together. That would take us some time, because we would have to revisit them and kind of tweak stuff. Songs often came out of jam sessions that we recorded. If we weren’t setting out just to write a song, we could take part of a jam session, and use it as the core of a song.
And then it kind of evolved, to some of the guys in the band coming in with more of a complete song. Greg Kramer and I get together, and we will write together. Jason Cressey and I will get together and write. Jason brought in ‘Famous Last Words’, the title cut to the last album. He brought that song in with a lot of it done, and we just kind of rearranged some of the parts, and put it together as a band.
The other guys might hear a song and suggest something, so it’s a fairly collaborative process, but there are still people that write more than others. The horn players have to write out all of their parts and get them arranged; that can be difficult. They can’t just play their own parts. It all has to work together, because they’re a section.
We attempted to have a songwriting workshop last year for a couple days, and I think we got like two songs out of it. So I don’t know if pressure is a good way for us to write; I think it’s better when it’s more organic and comes out of a jam session.
GM: What is something that music has done for you, that nothing else could?
BM: It’s given me a purpose to life. I don’t think it was really by choice though. Without it I don’t know what I would do. Bartending pays the bills, but it isn’t necessarily my passion for life. Like, if I was making enough money, I definitely wouldn’t be bartending.
GM: What is on the horizon for the True Loves?
BM: Well, the record label Colemine will be re-releasing our debut album Famous Last Words, hopefully within the end this year. And we will be releasing a digital single prior to that. We finished recording a new album; we are in the end of the mixing phase right now, and it’s sounding pretty hot. In fact, we made a little test master at a buddy’s house today. We ought to do a bit more touring next year if we can make it happen.
The True Loves, alongside DJ Moohah, will perform Friday Nov. 29 with special guest vocalist Tiffany Wilson, and Saturday Nov. 30, with special guest vocalist Riz Rollins at the Clock-Out Lounge 4864 Beacon Ave S. $15.00 advance $18.00 day of show. 21+ Doors 9pm. Show 9:30pm.
Featured image courtesy of the True Loves