Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Interview with Carey Rayburn, bandleader of Good Co and trumpeter of Abney Park

In a world of DJs and remixers, it's hard to find a band willing to swing the world with new music. Thankfully, I ran into Carey Rayburn.  This jazz player is not only tapping to the electroswing beat, but he's built a whole company around it, a Good Company.

Staffed by a raucous band of jazz musicians and Abney Park alumni (including the dread Captain Robert), Good Co just released their first album Electro Swing for the Masses last week. After listening to the album about ten or twenty times (it's really that good), I had to speak to the kingpin that locks this group together. Their music mixes traditional jazz and swing beats with a little something different, progressing the electroswing sound in a truly American style.

But don't take my word for it...

Carey, what can you tell me about Good Company? Are you all musicians by trade or do you have secret identities in the 9-to-5 world?

Good Co was originally a fun little side project of mine. Being a trumpet player here in Seattle I’m lucky to work with some amazing musicians and it seems like the more music I write, the more people I get to invite to recordings.

If you check out our liner notes you'll notice we've got a lot of musicians. Some of us are professional musicians but a lot of our players have their regular 9 to 5s, working as lawyers, software programmers, teachers, etc.

As for secret identities, I think for a lot of our members their music is their secret identity!

No one hears the old tunes on the radio anymore. That means you have a story to tell about how you first ran into the world of swing and big band. What was the first tune you really fell in love with?

Whoo, that's a tough one! I grew up in a house full of music. Any day of the week you could hear blues, pop, rock, jazz, just about every genre coming out of our stereo. To this day my dad is up on the music scene (way more than me!) and is always introducing me to new bands.

Though I listened to swing and big band growing up and played jazz throughout high school and college it wasn't really until I started playing with the band Miss Rose and Her Rhythm Percolators in Seattle that I started to really appreciate the music. Miss Rose plays vintage jazz and it was through working with her that I first really started to dig in to what makes jazz, particularly early jazz, come alive, what makes it really swing and jump. There is a life to the rhythm and expression you can find in jazz (good jazz that is).

The first tune I really fell in love with? Well, I think the song All the Things You Are by Jerome Kern is a masterpiece. It really hit me the first time I heard it and has stuck ever since.

In the late nineties, there was an overflow of neo-swing bands hitting the clubs. Did Good Co cut their teeth on the circuit back then, or is this line-up new to the scene?

Nope. Good Co is a brand new thing!

When I was growing up I listened to all those bands, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Royal Crown Revue, Squirrel Nut Zippers, etc. They were a huge influence on me. I remember wanting to have a band like that!

Speaking of band members, I saw your name on the most recent Abney Park album and I noticed you shanghaied AP members like Captain Robert and Nathaniel Johnstone for their help on Electro Swing for the Masses. When did you guys hook up and what's Good Co's relationship status with one of steampunk's most famous bands?

Yes, we were so fortunate to have the amazing and talented crew of the Ophelia join us in the studio. I happen to be the trumpet player for Abney Park, and when I told the band about my electroswing project they were ready to help out in any way. They are such awesome people and amazing musicians. It was a real treat to have them perform on the album.

Live shows, live shows, live shows. It's notoriously difficult to get an electroswing band together, let alone perform in the same place at the same time. Are you guys and dolls planning on hitting the road to support the new album, or do you consider Good Co to be more of a studio band at this point?

We actually have a live show coming up October 7th at Steamstock in San Francisco. We'll be playing along with Abney Park and Vernian Process, and may even have a few guest appearances. It should be quite the event! After that we will be playing as much as we can, as long as there are people who want to hear us!

Your production work is really polished. Can you give us any tips on the process or the tools you like to use?

Thank you! The best thing to do is to get really good musicians! I had an amazing cast of players working with me which made it a lot easier to create with. I have a very strong sense of what I want, what I want a song to sound like, and I think that really helped in working with other musicians. I was able to give them direction and being able to give a sense of what the music should be like took the guesswork out of performance.

For a musician, direction is a really good thing to have. As for mixing, that stuff is all over my head, so I got the amazing Graig Markel to handle all that. Once he got a sense of what I wanted, he was gangbusters. In the studio I could just sit back and listen while he worked, making comments every now and again. As for software, we used ProTools and Reason.

St. James Infirmary Blues is one of my all time favorite songs, especially the Cab Calloway version. I heard your version, St James, on the new album and I was really surprised. How you turned a story about an old soldier dying of VD after getting with a bad hooker into an upbeat dance tune must have been a weird trip. How did you come to pick this tune and what was the story behind getting it on the album?

Yeah, Cab can't be beat. I would love to learn to dance like him. Though the musicians in Abney Park give performances throughout the album, I really wanted to give them a vehicle to showcase the whole band. St James seemed like their style and I found some great Middle Eastern samples to make it move. This tune has been done recorded a thousand times before and I wanted to give a new take, make it original.

Check out Good Co's first single, Chinatown Strut from their debut album Electro Swing for the Masses and don't forget to spread the word!

You can follow Carey and the rest of the gang at:

Booking inquiries: goodcomusic@gmail.com

Radio contact: brandon@tinderboxmusic.com

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