By DJ Dave Hoffenberg
This weekend The Wobbly Barn will be rocking because Lifespeed makes their long, anticipated return after the pandemic break. The band just celebrated their 20th year in the music business. I’ve seen them play for most of those years but this will be my first time working alongside them and I couldn’t be happier. This Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m. will be their only Killington appearances this season so I highly recommend you don’t miss this show. I had an awesome phone chat with Bobby August (lead vocals/bass guitar/keyboards) and James McGill (lead vocals/lead and rhythm guitars). I’ve known both of them for years but August I’ve known since 1997. They’ll be joined by Rob Muller (lead vocals/lead and rhythm guitars) and T Bodnar (lead vocals/drums). Also in the band, but not making the trip, is Sean Patrick, a lead vocalist and acoustic guitarist. (Lifespeed is asking for prayers for him in his fight against cancer. He’ll be back with the band soon, doing what he does best which is commanding the crowd because he’s a great front man.)
You might have noticed a pattern in the band members’ description. What sets Lifespeed apart from other bands is every guy in the band sings lead. Their harmonies are amazing. Lifespeed has been rocking Killington since 2003. Every time they hit the stage, it is a high energy rock fest. They are one of the most popular bands in the history of Killington. They’ve always had a great lineup of guys and what sets them apart from others is how well they play together.
McGill said last summer was the “Summer of Lifespeed.”
August said, “All these new bands on the scene, trying to make a name for themselves, were playing all the new songs. We came in high energy, five guys playing all the classics from Queen to Blink 182 and people really reacted to it.”
McGill added, “It was really well-received. We were firing on all cylinders.”
And they got all the big weekends at all the top clubs.
I mentioned the harmonies and those are important to both of them. August said, “T is our secret weapon. He finds the harmony that nobody’s singing and all of a sudden the chords just elevate.”
McGill added: “He’s got that gift. He’s a true musician. Everybody does their part but T is a big part of the vocals.”
That’s amazing to me because most drummers don’t even have a mic to sing. They do “Bohemian Rhapsody” and for the middle part they stop playing and do all the vocals acapella.
Lots of bands do medleys and Lifespeed used to but got away from it, which is a good thing. I like hearing the whole song and they like playing it.
August said, “We’re back to being a real band with real talent. We know what our job is and that’s making sure people have a good time while hearing music from the ’70s up to today.”
Sampling is a big part of band’s performances today as well. Lifespeed still does it a few times but they can also do it with their instruments and that’s where Rob Muller comes in.
August said, “Rob does a lot of the effects. He has pedals that sound like organs. He can mimic the synthesizers and it sounds just like the record but it’s him playing it on guitar.”
McGill said, “He really good at making layers and filling the space with really cool sounds. He’s a very unique guitar player. He knows what to use if we don’t want to track something. His pedal board looks like a display at guitar center, it’s huge.”
August added, “It’s like a spaceship almost.”
When they play a two-night gig, they never play the same set twice. It’s really important to them to not play the same show. They always mix it up. Everyone contributes to their song list, but August explained: “We have a big body of work. We always feel out the crowd and see what people are vibing to.”
McGill said, “We pick out of all the side projects that all of us do. It’s all quality stuff and it appeals to the masses.”
Lifespeed is a crowd-friendly band. They like to hang out with their fans on the set break, share a drink with them and find out what they like to hear.
McGill said, “If people shout out suggestions, we do our best to play them. People are there to get away and have a good weekend and we like to keep that party going for them. It’s an imported New Jersey party. This band has always been people-friendly. I love connecting with people. We didn’t write the songs but we’re fortunate to play them for a living.”
But he likes when the band plays something challenging and the crowd appreciates it. He also likes the simple sing-a-long songs that the crowd sings with them in unison.
McGill is an original member but hasn’t grown tired of it, “I love the camaraderie, the musicianship. I like when someone counts us out, I prove to them that we’re a pretty damn good band.”
August rejoined the band in 2020 after a seven-year stint with Garden State Radio.
McGill added, “Bobby and I have a great friendship, a great working relationship. When he came back, it was home for me. It gave me life. He’s my human defibrillator, he got me back to life. I’ve gone to high school with T so it’s good to just play, laugh and smile, have a good time and be good at what you do. It’s cliché but it’s nice to forget about life for a while.”
McGill knows a lot goes into a great night. He said, “It’s not all about us, it’s about everybody else that makes the whole party. We’re just one piece of the pie. You have the staff, DJ, manager, security and the patrons, all making a night go well. Having people leave and say they had a really great time. We’re a big part of it but all the pieces make that night great. That’s what I love about it. I love watching the whole workings of the night.”
August agreed, added: “[Then] we show up and it’s about the music. We’ve always risen to the occasion. We know how to read the crowd and play the right material for the right room. It’s been awesome right from the time I came back. It’s a pleasure playing with these guys. Everybody brings something unique to the equation. I’ve always said this is the band that will define James and me — 20 years is a long time but on a talent level, none of us have lost a step. These five guys together create a soup.”
McGill added, “We’re like a rock ‘n’ roll soup.”
As Sean Patrick always said: “Lifespeed will remind you how much you enjoy live music again.” Make sure you come to The Wobbly so you can.
You can find Lifespeed on all the social media platforms and on their website: lifespeed.tv.