The Wood Brothers

Quick Q and A with Cold Chocolate

Genre-bending band, Cold Chocolate, does exactly that.  They bend and morph and twist and turn and ultimately delight people with their eclectic sound.  Ethan Robbins and Ariel Bernstein are the backbone of Cold Chocolate and have a tight chemistry that comes out when they hit the stage or the recording studio.

Get to know Cold Chocolate by checking out their website.

Here’s a video for “Steppin’ Out.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdGb20rBzq0

Cold Chocolate will be appearing at the me&thee in Marblehead, MA on Friday, February 8.

Please describe the music of Cold Chocolate.  If someone has never heard you before, what can they expect to hear?

We call ourselves an Americana band these days.  Basically, that just means we draw from a number of different styles–folk, bluegrass, funk, sometimes even soul and blues.  We started the band with a string band instrumentation, but over time, we’ve paired down our membership while, at the same time, expanding our musical breadth.

If you both had to name your top influences, who would they be?

Definitely The Grateful Dead, The Band, John Hartford, and more currently, bands like Mandolin Orange and The Wood Brothers.  We draw continuous songwriting and performance inspiration from these bands.

What have been the highlights of your careers?

We’ve had the opportunity to share bills with David Grisman, Leftover Salmon, as well as perform at festivals like Grey Fox, Freshgrass, and FloydFest, alongside some of our favorite musicians, both peers and heroes.

You and Ariel have been playing together for quite some time.  Do you do most of the writing and then present them to Ariel to add some percussion magic?

Typically, I’ll bring a song to Ariel that is either completely done, or an idea that is more just an outline of a song.  I find that as I write for this band, it’s best to leave arrangements rather open-ended, because when we start to rehearse them, sections, melodies, even lyrics, often change.  It’s tough, but I try not to get stuck in a single mind-set about a song.  Oftentimes, a song will go into a rehearsal one way, and come out a totally different way, always for the better.  Being able to rely upon others’ ears is the most exciting part about writing in a band.

Here’s a question for Ariel, tell us about your recording engineer work at Dimension Sounds.  How did you get involved with engineering?  Do you have any favorite sessions that you’ve witnessed?

I got involved with recording out of necessity. People asked me if I could record drums for them remotely, so I bought a simple recording rig and started learning how to use it. Eventually, people started asking me to record other instruments, live bands, and full records so I slowly started accruing more gear and learned how to use it as I went. I met Dan Cardinal (the owner of Dimension Sound Studios in Boston) while mixing a session that he had recorded. He asked me to assist on some upcoming sessions and that’s how our working relationship began.

I wouldn’t say that I have any particular favorite sessions, just the whole process in general. No matter where a person is in their career or the recording experiences they have, I enjoy working with people to help create the music that they want to show to the world and make the experience fun and rewarding.

Ethan, congratulations on being a father!  How do you manage to work your family life around touring?  Any tips for other musicians on what you’ve learned?

Thanks so much!  Sasha (my daughter) is 19 months now, and just so much fun.  She’s walking, talking, dancing, even singing a little bit.  I never realized the depth of love that I had yet to experience before fatherhood.  Of course, all aspects of work life have become trickier to manage since then, but I have an incredibly supportive wife who is able to be home to watch the baby while we go on tour.  Typically, these days, we just do long weekends away, but even 2 or 3 days away from my daughter feels like an eternity.  It’s a tough life, being a musician, as it means needing to travel a ton for work.  It’s a strange dichotomy–on the one hand, every fiber of my being makes me want to stay home and hang out with my daughter, while at the same time, every fiber of my being pushes me to make a living to support my daughter.  I’m lucky to have family close by for any extended touring we do, but honestly, it’s only been a year and change, so we are all still figuring everything out!

What are you working on lately?  Any new recordings or projects?

We are super psyched to be working on a new record, with plans to get into the studio this spring.  Our most recent record, The Way Back, came out in late 2016, so we are hankering to get something new out into the world.  The new songs are really exciting because they are paving the way for a cool new musical direction that we’ve yet to experiment with until now.

 

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