Interview: People Within

People Within is a band I will gladly let speak for themselves. I’ve seen them live several times and recommend you check them out, but know there’s nothing I could say that would top their own words. We met at the Blue Moon recently to chat about their music, their fans, and their new CD. We settled in with drinks and the band chose folded questions from a french fry basket which we passed around the table.

Why are you in a band?
This is Geoff. I play bass. I live to be in a band. There’s things you can do in a band that you can’t do solo. I play a lot anyway in a solo thing I do on the side… you just don’t get the same kind of juice that you do with a full band.

What is your day job?
This is the People Within MC Broken English and I work at a community radio station. A very guerilla means of media and I enjoy that.

Do you have any surprising or embarrassing hobbies?
This is Ralph Reed. I really like funny cat pictures. Like, a lot. When I was in college there was this picture of a rabbit eating a cookie and it said, “I’m stealing your cookies now k thanks bye.” I just love funny cat pictures… anything with adorable animals.

Amelia: That’s surprising and embarrassing.

Your new CD sounds great. I believe you had your share of drama getting it out. What happened and how do you feel about the result?
My name’s Stefan and I’m the drummer. It’s been a year in the making, our debut, and it’s a culmination of multiple recordings that we had remixed and mastered and it sounds great and I’m very happy with the result.

people within

Y’all are good. How were each of you trained?
Geoff: I mostly self-trained, just fooling around with instruments since high school. Bass, drums, guitar. Really liking the bass right now.
Broken English: I was trained on the playground when I was a child. That’s your first real exposure to politics and that’s where a lot of my content comes from, I think.
Ralph: I grew up playing jazz, then I went to college and played in a jazz band and I studied music composition and after college I moved to Seattle and I got into lots of other kinds of music… playing more soul music and rock. I really got into playing countryish, like Chet Atkins stuff. I just got into playing a lot of different styles.
Stefan: I’m self taught.  I experimented with sounds that I appreciated as a listener… different influences and just tried to emulate it and then went with it. I lived in Olympia for a number of years, playing in bands down there. Recently relocated to Seattle and got together with these guys.

What is People Within’s process for writing music?
Broken English: I think originally the writing process came from the three of you guys (Ralph, Stefan, Geoff) laying down a lot of chops. I was introduced into the band a little bit later and they had already established a repertoire by which they played, which was very much jazz, funk inspired. Nowadays I think the writing process is a little more spontaneous. We tend to just jump into the practice pad and come up with either a good riff or a good hook or I come up with some lyrics and we just go to town. The majority of the stuff we come up with surprises even us. It’s a pretty cool little combination that we’ve got going on.

Ralph: I knew you before I knew you were in a band. How do the people surrounding People Within affect the band?
Ralph: I think we’ve been really blessed with amazing supporters and very patient and helpful wives, girlfriends and small babies. I think with any band, with any partnership, with any endeavor, you can’t really do it without the support of the people around you. I think if we didn’t have these people coming out to shows, being encouraging, being excited about our CD, it would just be really depressing. (laughs) Hard to do, you know what I mean? I think the main effect is it keeps us going because our friends have been really supportive.

Describe Seattle’s current music scene and your place in it.
Stefan: I’m pretty detached in many ways from the Seattle scene and that’s my own weird place with seeing shows. Personally, I’ve been more into listening to vinyl and getting into the history of music a little bit. The current music scene… I’m just getting familiar with the hip hop and the instrumental hip hop scene in Seattle, which continues to surprise me. The more you scratch away at the surface the more you see the diversity and what’s really going on, so I’m trying to get connected with that more and more. That’s my journey of discovery, really, to see what’s really going on out there.

How and when did People Within form?
Geoff: In the Spring of 2007, me and Stefan and Ralph kind of hooked up first of all, laying down some fat funky jazzy grooves and then Eric joined up with us not too long after that and the rest is where we are now.

What are your favorite venues to play and to see shows?
Broken English
: My favorite venues to play are pretty much any of the venues that have good sound, that cater well to listeners and that support the artists, because the venues around town can be really shitty too.

Amelia: Care to name any? Good or the bad?

Broken English: The good tend to be in the more prominent areas like the U-District or Fremont or Capitol Hill. The bad tend to be in the more industrial areas and I’m not going to name those names because everybody knows what they are anyway. To see shows, I really enjoy seeing shows at places that have good sound and that’s all over the city. There are plenty of places – Seattle’s just a hotbed for really good spots to see shows. And a hotbed to see really bad shows too.

We are at the Blue Moon. You are scheduled to play here on October 17th. Have you played here before? What do you think?
Ralph: I have not played here before. I think this is a good venue because it’s smaller… we’ll pack a lot of people in here and it’s kind of gritty so we can really get… you know. Dirty. It’s a Saturday. You can get dirty and I can get all up in the audience’s face and JP can lick my guitar and I’ll spit on somebody. There’ll be blood. We’ll light someone on fire. It’ll be great! People will be injured, so it will be wonderful.

Geoff: That’ll be the name of our band, from now on.

Ralph: People will be injured? Yes. Someone will be killed. We should get a big puppet named Sophie and slaughter… we should have a ritualistic killing at every show.

Amelia: You should start it here, really, because it would fit in.

Ralph: It would fit in! They’d probably be kind of blasé about it.

Geoff: It would fit on the dive mini tour, right?

Ralph: Yep. High Dive, Comet…

Geoff: The High Dive isn’t really a dive.

Ralph: But it does have ‘dive’ in the name. The Comet… this place… what’s the name of that one at the Denny triangle? It has the mirror in the bathroom so you’re looking away from the Space Needle…?

Amelia: The Five Point.

Ralph: Yeah. Let’s get a show at the Five Point’s Tavern.

Amelia: In the bathroom.

Ralph: In the bathroom. 



Check People Within’s site for upcoming shows, including  the Blue Moon show mentioned above on 10/17.


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