The Werks picked up their name from a food order, but little did they know that the name alone would most accurately describe their genre of music. The Werks have been hailed as a “psychedelic dance rock band”, but rarely are you able to listen to an album and hear, as well as feel, what it is like to be at that show, seeing it live. For music lovers, when we’re not seeing live shows, we are doing the “at home sound experience”. I know this feeling from listening to certain bands like Phish, Moe., or Umphrey’s Mcgee.
In this case,The Werks, (Chris Houser, Rob Chafin, as well as Dino and Norm Dimitrouleas) execute cohesive improvisational jamming into their live shows, which ultimately morphs them into moving set lists. Transforming them as they go along, band members weave in and out of songs, draw them out, or cut them down, filling the allotment of time in whichever manner they choose, all the while using their own personal and individual musical strengths and influences to guide the show along. This gives them a dynamic element in which you never really know what they’ll pull out next. So what happens when this band confines their jams to a 9 track studio album? Well, they break down that barrier from the inside out, bringing you the closest thing to what a real live Werks show might sound and feel like.
Usually artists will release an album that embodies one overall and encompassing theme or sound and their live shows are scattered choices of songs from their respective albums. The Werks, however, are cohesive and concise in their sound, so while it might appear at first glance that they mix a lot of dissimilar tunes, in reality their tunes are spot on, and chocked full of cohesiveness.
I called Rob Chafin (drums and vocals) to talk about the upcoming Electric Forest, their upcoming tour and the excitement of their rise to the top.
JBO- Did you guys expect to rise to stardom as quickly as you did? How does it feel to right behind Phish in the jamband scene?
Rob- It feels great. We’ve been hitting the road really hard ever since we first started touring and it takes a lot of hard work to get where we’re at and it feels great to see the rewards and all the hard work pay off.
JBO- Tell me about the change that occurred between your two albums, “Synapse” and your self titled album. It’s a pretty dramatic switch from a vintage inspired bluesy rock album to a borderline electronic sound. Have you gotten negative feedback from fans and how do you handle that?
Rob- The whole concept behind The Werks is a little bit of everything like a pizza with the works on it. But we also went through some member changes between those two albums so as a result, everyone’s style of music and you can hear the difference between the two albums. I wouldn’t say we’re entirely electronic, but we do have electronic songs, we try to be a little bit of everything and the electronic music is a part of that. We have a new bassist and keyboardist since our last album. They’re both from The Maji. They’re a Dayton, Ohio band that was very similar to us. It just so happened that when we lost our keyboardist, Norman Dimitrouleas from The Maji was available and then we lost our bassist and we got Norman’s brother, Dino Dimitrouleas. We have that brother aspect in the band now.
JBO- What is in the water in Dayton, Ohio? Because there is some awesome stuff coming out of that part of the country.
Rob- I guess I’d say LSD but who knows? It does have a very special music scene. I’m actually from Columbus but I was able to go to school in Dayton. It’s definitely a very unique, thriving music scene and very jam and funk oriented, unlike smaller towns in the U.S. It’s a special place and a very important breeding ground for very talented bands and musicians over the years.
JBO- You guys are playing again this year at Electric Forest. Are you excited? Who are some of the acts you’re looking forward to seeing?
Rob- We’re very excited to be back at Electric Forest. Our booking agency, Madison House is the group who puts it on. We’re really good friends with them and behind everything they do, especially this festival. It’s actually one of my favorite festivals that I have ever attended. I know we are all looking really forward to it. It’s a total family there. They go all out with their combinations of decorations and music and they definitely transform it to a very special place. They have such an eclectic line up. It’s still heavily electronic but incorporate all other forms of music also. Our friends at Madison House do an excellent job booking the festival. It’s one of our top 3 favorite festivals we’ve ever played.
JBO- I’m sure you know a lot of the musicians at Electric Forest. Who are some of your favorite musicians to work with not just on tour but in studio?
Rob- We’re really good friends with the guys in Lotus. They’re great guys and I love their music. We’re good friends with The String Cheese guys too. We’re looking forward to seeing their sets, all 3 days worth of them. Of course, we work with EOTO and love them. As well as Railroad Earth. I’m really looking forward to everyone. Like I said, It’s such a great festival, there’s so much amazing music and such a great vibe. There’s such a great, fun, exciting energy in the air and I’m really looking forward to it. You can’t go wrong with joining us at Electric Forest.
The Werks host their own festival in the September called The Werk Out Music and Arts Festival. It is hosted at the same venue as Allgood-Legend Valley Music Center in Thornville, OH. Check it out at http://www.thewerkoutfestival.com/
Check out ElectricForest at http://electricforestfestival.com/
The Werks- http://thewerksmusic.com/live/