Chico faves Bogg release a new album of originals
Composing a song is one thing, but it’s another to be surrounded by players who can help realize it pretty much right away, says Joshua Hegg. In fact, that’s what the pianist appreciates most about playing with his friends in long-running local experimental jazz band Bogg.
“I’ve learned to write for the people I know are going to play it,” he said. “I’ll write the violin lines knowing Matt Weiner’s strengths. It’s all meant to make the people playing it sound as good as they possibly can, and it’s been a long process realizing that, with jazz especially, everyone is feeding off each other’s emotions.” That can be either positive or negative. When Bogg hits a bad groove—which is inevitable with improvised music—that changes the vibe on stage: “It’s not that we hate each other or anything,” he said, “it’s that we’re hyper-aware something is off.”
Becoming so in tune with each other is a simple product of spending so much time together over the past half-decade. Bogg is a rare case: The founding members are Chico State music grads who stuck around and have actually been able to make it as full-time musicians. And since forming in 2013, Bogg has become one of Chico’s most highly regarded and hardest-working bands. The group played some 150 shows last year, including weekly appointments at Café Coda and an increasing number of gigs at corporate events, casinos and weddings.
The band also found time to record a new, original, four-song EP set for release on Aug. 26: The Good Fight. The creative process was a breath of fresh air for the members, a reprieve from the grind of the road.
“Casino gigs are fun, but it gets old real fast because you’re playing to a bunch of people who aren’t there to listen,” Hegg said.
Founding member, multi-instrumentalist and newish father Michael Bone was not involved with these recordings, Hegg said, but he remains a part of the band and partner in other projects, including Small Town Big Sound, the multiartist collaboration produced by Uncle Dad’s Art Collective scheduled for next month at the Sierra Nevada Big Room. Bone had been the band’s creative sparkplug from behind his drum kit, so the guys definitely felt his absence.
Hegg also struggled through a creative dry spell during which he hadn’t been able to write anything he considered worthwhile in several years. That changed following a casino show in Reno.
“The chemistry on stage found the right balance and it was super inspiring,” Hegg said. “So, I went up to our hotel room and wrote a whole song on the melodica, and that kind of opened the door for the whole band. We had this creative voice to share.”
The end result was the band’s sixth collection of studio recordings. The band has two other albums of original material—2014’s four-song hip-hop EP The Boys Is Safe (with MC TyBox) and 2013’s full-length So Happy It Hurts.
Bogg tackled the new album guerrilla-style, with bassist Gavin Fitzgerald, drummer Madison DeSantis and guitarist Ethan Swett rounding out the five-piece on a recording that’s presented as a four-part suite exploring various themes: community activism (“The Good Fight”), the view of the world from the passenger seat (“You Were Right”), life and love (“Unprotected Six”) and a “prayer for simplicity” (“Pure and Simple”). They recorded The Good Fight live (together in the same room) with Scott Barwick at Origami Studios, and their seemingly telepathic connection comes through in the recording.
Throughout the record, little mistakes add character to each player’s unique voice, Fitzgerald said: “It’s a very truthful album. It just sounds like five guys.”