In 2010, Corey Frye came back to his college town of Bloomington, Indiana after a stint working for Celebrity Cruise Lines. During his visit, the former Hoosier and Classical Vocal major ran into his now bandmate, keyboardist Ben “Smiley” Silverstein, spawning a relationship that’s kept the singer away from home for five years straight.
Frye, Silverstein, and The Main Squeeze — other group members include guitarist Max Newman, bassist Rob Walker, and drummer Reuben Gingrich — are huddled in their Los Angeles rehearsal space days before kicking off a 6-week Spring tour when Corey pauses to talk in his subtly twangy voice. It’s slightly different from the rangy vocals that can go from Matt Shultz-esque to Maxwell on tracks heard across the band’s four projects but their voice, nonetheless.
Without setback, the fans The Main Squeeze have attracted since they started playing shows back in Bloomington can put their ears on a new project by year’s end. Until then, listeners can expect at least a handful of loosies that close-in on the constantly evolving band who’s made their way closer to a distinct sound with each release.
“As we grow, our projects grow,” Frye says during our phone conversation. “At the beginning, it was a lot more just what we were cranking out. ‘These are the songs we like, let’s just put them out.’”
Life on the road obstructed them from sitting down and letting a fluid sound coagulate into an easily digestible piece but getting “the fuck out the cold” of Chicago, relocating to LA and skipping out on events like SXSW, which they did this year, gives The Main Squeeze a chance to add more sanded-down pieces to their catalog.
“We’re focusing a little more on sonically and lyrically, painting a picture and creating a little bit of barriers within — not stretching too far out,” the lead singer adds, noting that they came closest to taming what he calls the Three-Headed Monster of Funk, Soul, and Rock on their 2017 LP Without A Sound.
Perfecting that dynamic could bring the group to their tipping point after more than three years of upward trending groovy sounds thanks to Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar, and Childish Gambino and perhaps less popular but just as significant acts like The Internet, their prodigal son Steve Lacy, and Thundercat, who have blown funky flames in the faces of both mainstream and fringing fans in recent times. The soulful swell has even eased the confusion on the crunched faces of the band’s acquaintances previously unable to grasp the band’s ideas.
“When ["Uptown Funk”] dropped on the radio, my friends that listen to our music, but weren’t necessarily down for it, were like ‘shit, this is huge for you guys!’ And that’s crazy when it’s recognized by just an average listener that knows this is a turning point,” reflects Frye, who, too, fell further under the sound’s spell when Gambino’s Awaken, My Love dropped, compelling him to throw the LP on repeat during one of his road trips.
If their friends struggle to swallow what The Main Squeeze is pressing, it may be due to the complexity of the outfit’s DNA being randomly expressed at points throughout their music. Frye broke down how his Motown upbringing blended with disparate influences from other members: Smiley introduced Grateful Dead influence with Newman bringing in Jimi Hendrix and Walker ushered in a Gospel influence — as heard on tracks like “Colorful Midst,” while Gingrich sprinkled Jazz Fusion flavors into the pot.
However, the array of textures should reflect life in a way music often fails to, the lead singer explains.
“What we’re starting to realize as time has gone on is music is more emotional and it’s feeling-based. And it’s not just supposed to be a genre. It should take you through different things and that’s what music is, so why should it be pigeonholed to ‘oh they’re just a Rock band’ or whatever?”
In the midst of juking labels, putting their own spin on covers from their favorite artists’ catalogs, and starting a music family with the likes of Bryce Fox and Teddy Roxpin, Frye has constantly tried to get out in front of the crowd and help navigate listeners through their seven-layer world.
“I feel like my voice is kind of the tour guide of the journey, regardless of where the music goes. And we just try to take you along for the ride,” Frey says.
With 25 stops on their upcoming US trek including a detour in New Orleans during Jazzfest weekend —where they’ll play a Jimi Hendrix set, and intersecting with the Funk zeitgeist as it goes global, while folks turn down their car radio and pick up omnivorous listening habits, The Main Squeeze veers down the road to a place where their brand of music is yet to venture.
“We want to lead that charge. We want to be on that wavelength. We got people like Chance [t[the Rapper]oing it for Hip-Hop. We want to do that for Rock and Funk. We want people to be like, ‘yo, The Main Squeeze, they did it and they did it on their own.’”
The Main Squeeze plays The Wayfarer with Devil Season 8PM Thurs. March 22, 2018. 843 W. 19th St. Costa Mesa, CA 92627
I listen to music. I write about it. I like hot sauce on my chicken.