Entrain gear up for busy summer of shows, recording

BMS talks with Tom Major of Entrain about the band's touring and recording plans

, Staff

Longtime New England favorites Entrain will tour heavily once again this summer with a variety of shows scheduled throughout New England, including a headlining set at the free Dedham Music & Art Festival on Saturday. Besides their always energetic live shows, the Martha’s Vineyard-based jam band are working on a brand new album with help from their devoted fanbase. With all this is in mind, we caught up with drummer and band founder Tom Major to discuss all things Entrain.

Boston Music Spotlight (BMS): You recently announced that you’ll be going back into the studio to record a new album – your first studio effort with with Brian Alex on Lead Vocals and guitar since 2000’s All One. Why did it take so long to decide to record again?

Tom Major of Entrain (TM): Brian’s been back for 1 1/2 and we’re excited to get back in the studio with him. We did release two live CD’s and our last studio CD “Just a Matter of Time” since then. We’re actually going in to the studio this week to record 2 songs that will be a “pre release” of the new CD. These are great summertime tunes and we don’t want to wait until the album is finished to get them out to radio land.

BMS: You’re using the website PledgeMusic to ask for contributions to make the album. Explain this process and why you decided to ask fans to help make this record?

TM: We like the Pledgemusic folks and seemed like the best website out of the many available that artists are funding their projects with. The reason we’re involved in the Pledge Music campaign is simple. The way that music is made and distributed has changed greatly since our first self titled CD hit the streets in 1994. There are no more record stores and distribution is really only for digital downloading. The fact of the matter is that CD sales have slowed dramatically due to file sharing or how some record companies put it, stealing the music. It’s difficult even for a band like Entrain to count on revenue coming back, as in the past, to at the very least cover the expense of recording and manufacturing an album. This is a unique way to get the fans involved in the actual production of the project while getting back some great “incentives” in return for their pledge. Never before have bands and their fans been so intimately involved in the making of music. This is another facet of the term “entrainment”. Another upside for lots of artists is that record labels don’t control the music anymore. The artist is free to create without going through the funnel vision of the accountants at the record companies. For the fans, all it means is that you’re willing to shell out a few dollars to  pre-order you favorite bands CD, instead of ripping a file illegally. I think it’s a win win.

BMS: Part of the campaign is the different incentives that are awarded to fans based on the amount of their pledge. How did you come with these packages? What are some of your personal favorites and what has been popular thus far?

TM: We had a lot of fun deciding what the incentives would be. The most popular are simply an autographed copy of the CD, or a CD and a special “pledge only” T-shirt. There are private house concerts, living room acoustic concerts, dinner with the band before a show, introducing the band at a show, a drum lesson with me or Sam Holmstock as well as some high end incentives like a private sunset acoustic concert aboard the schooner “Alabama” on Martha’s Vineyard or the big ticket Executive Producer credit.

BMS: With PledgeMusic campaigns, a portion of the funds raised are donated to a charity of the band’s choice. In this case, you are supporting Kevin Youkillis’ Hits for Kids Foundation. Tell us about your relationship with the foundation.

TM: Kevin is a fan of the band and a friend. He asked us to donate a song for his Music Hits Home benefit album and invited us to play a couple of fundraising events for his foundation [Kevin Youkilis’ Hits for Kids]. He’s a great guy doing a lot of good for the kids in Boston and his home town of Cincinnati. I have hugh respect for people like Kevin who uses his popularity and his free time to give something back to the community. We need more people like him doing some good for the world.

BMS: What can fans expect from this next studio album?

TM: It’ll be a nice mix of great songs along with some signature Entrain drum pieces and first class playing and production.

BMS: You’re playing a lot of dates around New England this summer. Will you be performing any new material at the shows?

TM: We have been playing some of the new tunes to get them ready to record as well as jamming more to get the creative juices flowing. We’re still always conscious of playing the Entrain hits and make sure our fans go home happy though.

BMS: Are there any summers shows in particular that you most excited for?

TM: We’re really looking forward to playing the Bank of America Pavilion with Huey Lewis on July 16, as well as two shows with Toots and the Maytals at the Cape Cod Melody Tent on July 21 and the South Shore Music Circus on July 22. We’re also looking forward to playing our yearly Boston Harbor Cruise. This year it’s on a bigger boat and will be on Sunday afternoon ,August 21. There are also many all age concerts that we always love to play as we have a large and still growing younger fan base.

BMS: For people heading out to the festival in Dedham this Saturday that are unfamiliar with Entrain, how would you describe your music and the atmosphere of an Entrain performance?

TM: Entrain is like a funky, world, jam, ska, reggae rock stew… with enough drums to sink a battleship!  We’re all about spreading the good vibe.

BMS: Anything else our readers should know?

TM: Entran is working on a multimedia show called “Entrain’s Drums For Peace”, which we hope to get out before the end of the year. It utilizes video projection and all our music that promote peace, love, unity and keeping the Earth green. There’s an ancient Toltec prophesy that states when 8,000 drums beat as one (entrainment), a healing of the Earth and it’s people will begin to take place. The time for change is now and I believe music will have a hugh part of this transformation.

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