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Sonically Authentic

The Probables Set To Record More Songs; To Play Sat.

The Probables from left are Adam McKillip, mandolin, vocals; Ryan Ecklund, bass; Steve Johnson, guitar, vocals; Nick Campbell, drums; and Matt Gronquist, fiddle, mandolin, and vocals. Submitted photo

The Probables have reorganized their sound — sort of.

The group’s sound solidified when a permanent mandolin player, a permanent bassist, and a permanent drummer were added.

The band’s music is still fresh, and sonically authentic.

I was walking to meet the band members and as I got closer to their rehearsal space, I could hear them practicing. It sounded very clear where I could hear every instrument played. When I arrived at the space, the band was still playing, and the music was still clear, and I could still hear every instrument. In the intimate setting, no one member fought to be heard, and the sound was balanced.

“I’m not trying to step on anyone’s toes,” said Adam McKillip, the band’s new mandolin player. “This has been a lot of fun and a great experience. I’m just trying to interplay between everybody — filling in the gaps.”

McKillip, electric bassist Ryan Ecklund, and drummer Nick Campbell joined the band in October 2018.

Vocalist and guitarist Steve Johnson is happy with the new sound.

“He brings a lot of energy and musical diversity for sure,” he said of McKillip.

All the members strive for the musical balance.

According to Matt Gronquist, who plays fiddle, accordion, and also sings, the band previously had more of a bluegrass arrangement with a stand-up acoustic bass. “We didn’t really have a full-time drummer. It’s kind of morphed into a real rhythm section.” Gronquist added that there is not an issue with where band members are struggling to be heard. “Sometimes the note not played is the best note.”

Campbell said he plays with a laid-back style where he tries “not to overpower anybody, blend in with everybody, and keep the pace. Everybody builds off of that. Less is more for me. The pocket is where I live.”

Ecklund noted that he went back to playing a five-string bass for The Probables because there are more tonal spaces where the bass works really well and fills out the sound.

And you can hear it when the band plays.

Johnson said he likes to keep his song ideas simple, and the band is ready to record another five-song release. It will be a followup to “Cumberland Line.” As in other bands Johnson has played with, he wrote many songs, but did not record any. He is taking the opposite approach with The Probables. With the new members, Johnson’s songwriting flourishes.

“It doesn’t put me in a box anymore. I can write freely. Not to say the other group gave me limitations, but with an electric bass, I can broaden my horizons a little bit, and not feel so confined.”

When writing before, Johnson was hesitant to bring new material to the band. Now he isn’t. “The thing is before I still wrote them (songs). I just couldn’t bring them and do them. Now I’m not afraid to bring everything I write. If I would write five songs maybe only one of them would fit in a traditional setting. Now all five of them might fit,” he said.

Johnson has about 15 or 16 new songs, but will pare them down to five when the band is ready to record. “It’s the best song wins type of thing,” he said. He will present the songs to the band, and then as band, decide which ones make the cut. “That way we build it together,” he said.

The Probables will perform Saturday at Spire Theatre, 317 E. Third St. Jamestown when they open for Donna The Buffalo.

For more information go to theprobables.com.

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