When it comes to being a professional musician, versatility is key. You have to know how to play a ton of different songs while spanning numerous styles along with your own original material. It’s no easy task but once you get a handle on it then the gigs will keep on coming. Vocalist and guitarist Brandon Forbes knows what this grind is like and he’s involved in numerous projects. At Ted’s Stadium Kitchen & Pub on 1145 Park Avenue in Cranston on August 21st, he’ll be performing with his six-string starting at 7pm.
We recently had a talk ahead of the gig about playing for a few hours a night, the differences in audiences these days, being influenced by a legend and his plans for the rest of the year.
Rob Duguay: When it comes to playing these bar gigs, how do you prepare yourself for a set that's going to be around three hours long?
Brandon Forbes: I usually go by the vibe at the bar and the way that the crowd is forming or entering or leaving. I try to do three 40 to 50 minute sets on any given night but occasionally if we’re on a roll I’ll just keep going. It’s a good hobby at the end of the day because it requires a lot of sleep, a lot of water and a wide knowledge of music which are three things necessary for the mind and the body. At first, it was a little more challenging to do that long of a set but after time I kind of grew into the role and matured a bit with my vocals. I take pretty good care of them so it becomes fun at that point.
RD: I can totally see that. How has it been for you playing out since the COVID-19 regulations were lifted at the beginning of the summer? Have the crowds been different in any way versus pre-pandemic times?
BF: Before the pandemic hit, I think everyone was able to be a lot more intimate and they were willing to dance. Maybe you still can but people are more respectful to just staying within their own parties at their own table and enjoying music from a further distance. You still see the same familiar faces at different bars and I think every town sort of has their way of doing things, which is nice to see. It’s nice to see the bar owners taking such great care and precautions so I can say that I’ve felt totally comfortable in any of the bars and rooms that I’ve played. The owners and the staff have done a great job in making sure everybody feels comfortable.
It's good to see people going out to see live music and have a smile on their faces after a tough week or a tough night at work. At the end of the day I think it does some healing.
RD: Outside of playing solo, you play in the Tom Petty Tribute act Wicked Petty. Have you always viewed Tom Petty as a major influence of yours?
BF: Yeah, absolutely. When I was a kid my dad just had 12 CDs and that’s what I grew up listening to. Into The Great Wide Open and Full Moon Fever from Tom Petty were both in that collection so it was a major chunk of my listening material starting in elementary school.
RD: You're also part of the hard rock act Black Dagger and back in the day you were part of the metal band They Live, so what inspires that musical side of you?
BF: It’s definitely all over the place. At different ages I was heavily into different artists whether it was fronting a metal band or playing acoustic. When I was in middle school I was listening to Korn and Limp Bizkit along with stuff that was on radio stations like WAAF and WBRU back in the day. Whatever was in rotation I was probably listening to and that shaped my influences for a while but then I would go back to classic rock. There were summers in high school where all I would listen to was Led Zeppelin and then later in life I started to like country when I never thought I would.
You can see that in the acoustic sets, I’ll go from Nirvana all the way to Zac Brown during one night. I like to span different styles of music and you never know what you feel like playing at the end of the day so it’s nice to keep things open and be flexible. Whether I’m playing Tom Petty or fronting a metal band I just want to put on a really good show so that always stays consistent.
RD: After the show at Ted's, what do you have planned for the coming months?
BF: After this show, we’re going to have a Wicked Petty show at Union Station Brewery on August 28th in Providence. Then I’m going to take a bit of a hiatus because I just had a daughter so I’m going to kind of regroup and do some more studio work going into December. I’m going to bunker down a bit and hopefully record some new original material. I’m looking to play more original music next year coming out of the winter possibly with a new group so keep your eyes peeled for that.