Bonneville is the dynamic retro soul band composed of Jeff Hayashi and Wes McGee. They are set to transport music lovers back in time with the upcoming release of their single, ‘Boogeyman’. As a testament to their lifelong love for music and relentless pursuit of authentic self-expression, Bonneville’s retro soul and R&B sound is a fearless reflection of their artistic roots, capturing the purest essence of their craft.
In ‘Boogeyman’, Bonneville presents a powerful and poignant homage to the inner city soul music of the early 70s. The song resonates with the energy of that era, from the massive intro to the deep grooves in the verses and the soaring bridge. ‘Boogeyman’ harks back to the classic east coast R&B sound of the late 70s, reminiscent of crime dramas that made this style so famous and renowned.
According to guitarist Jeff Hayashi, “This track leans a little more old school than the others, and I wanted to incorporate strings and capture that late 70’s east coast R&B movie sound.” Lead vocalist Wes McGee infuses the song with the soulful spirit of the early 70s artists like Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, and Randy Crawford.
‘Boogeyman’ is available now for streaming. Check out Jammerzine’s exclusive interview with Bonneville below!
Where does the band name “Bonneville” come from?
WES MCGEE: It came from a night Jeff and I were throwing around names for the project and we were aiming at something that had an old appeal. At first, it was “Strong Tom and The Bonnevilles” and that seemed a little too extra so we decided on Bonneville. The appeal and class of the ‘66 Bonneville car reminded us of a simpler time while also touching on the idea of being built well and elegant. In French, it means “beautiful city.” So, it’s our hope that we can promote the idea of making society as a whole a Bonne Ville.
JEFF HAYASHI: Yeah, I abhor trying to make up band names almost as much as I dislike buying shoes and naming genres to describe our sound…I am a car guy though. I used to engineer formula race cars and love the classics. So when Wes jokingly suggested “The Bonnevilles,” I said why not just “Bonneville?” Also being a closet etymologist, I absolutely loved the root meaning of bonne ville which means “beautiful city.” As we chose Muscle Shoals, AL as our recording “mecca,” it seemed to be an exemplary name.
What is it about 70s-influenced Soul, R&B, and Funk that makes it truly timeless?
WES MCGEE: You can feel it in your bones even when dealing with darker subjects like Hathaway’s “In the Ghetto” or Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street.” It still makes you tap your feet and has an uplifting vibe. It seems to create hope while dealing with hopeless subjects.
JEFF HAYASHI: No matter how good or bad a day a person is having, you put on some soul or funk and the clouds just seem to part. Thankfully, my mom and dad had very diverse musical tastes. They both enjoyed classical, jazz, and the Delta Blues. My mother leaned into Motown when she was a teen while my dad was playing Rock and Roll drums during the late 60’s peak of drummers like Ginger Baker, John Bonham, Mitch Mitchel, and Michael Shrieve. So I got the soul influence from my mom and the rock influence from my dad and sort of mashed them together…Soul, classic R&B, and Rock are the driving genres behind my influence as a guitarist and a writer. I feel that soul, R&B, and funk specifically are some of the most unifying genres out there. Just go to any concert where this music is playing and everyone is smiling and dancing regardless of age, creed, religion, or color. Music is, after all, the invisible language.
Your metaphorical use of the “Boogeyman” is used to describe the negative influence modern corporations have on our society. Do you think there’s a way of fighting back, or do you think we have to learn to live with it?
WES MCGEE: I wouldn’t say it’s corporations per se but more the overarching fear that is created by humans to control other humans. Fear ultimately gives power to those who implement it. This goes back to the dawn of time before corporations. The story of Beowulf probably made many a child second guess going into a swamp or the book of Leviticus with it many warnings of God’s punishments. But we now have a daily reminder on our phones and televisions of the new thing to be afraid of.
And I suppose the way to fight back is to be tuned into the inner self and be present to the moment. Celebrate your relationships, serve others, and put the phone down and enjoy what’s around you. Don’t buy what’s being sold to you based on fear.
JEFF HAYASHI: Wes couldn’t have said it any better…I’ll point to my favorite lyrics in the song which say, “We used to walk around with our heads held high. Looking toward the future with our faces to the sky. Now we’re all hunched over, holdin fear inside our hand. Instant paranoia, and we’ve got it on demand.”
People that are in control tend to want to stay in control, and there is nothing more controlling than fear and intimidation. On the flip side, people disdain being controlled, and once you pull back the curtain from the control mechanism one can’t unsee it, and it’s like turning on a light switch in a dark room. Aside from looking inward, we need to not be tethered to our devices and screens. Sure it’s an easy escape, but that is the way they want it. It’s by design and it’s important to realize that. Focusing on nature and beauty of the world around me and the faces of my loved ones is a constant reminder of what is real, beautiful, and fearless.
What was it like working with producer Starita?
Starita and I (Jeff Hayashi) go way back and have worked on numerous projects. I even met my wife on one of them! He’s a great pleasure to work with and we consider him a member of the band in spirit. We are very aligned when it comes to the overall feel of the songs we are working on. He has great ability to see our vision. As with any relationship, where there are more generals than soldiers in the room there are bound to be some elevated moments and passionate debates. That’s all love and the music is better because of it.
What’s in store for Bonneville in 2024?
We are continuing to release music from our sophomore album “Flying Machine.” We are really excited about getting this music out to the world. We are also continuing to write and cut new material and it’s refreshing to have so much in the can. We don’t have any pressure to complete another full length record but when the time comes to release one, there will be plenty of material to choose from. We are also looking forward to getting back on tour and playing live but the proverbial waters need to be the right temperature in order to do so. It’s a big band, 12 to 13 players in total. So, we need to be playing the proper sized venues, supporting the right headliners, and of course, the numbers need to be there to support all of that. So keep giving us those follows, streaming our music, and sharing our content! We’re well on our way and expect to be playing more in front of our fans and new listeners in short order!