The beauty, grace and craftsmanship of rock and roll peaked in the 1960s and 1970s.
At least, that’s the opinion of Carl LoSasso and his bandmates in the local rock quartet Seldom Surreal.
The raw power of Jimi Hendrix, expansive and experimental songwriting of the Beatles and the harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young defined a generation and inspired countless musicians working today. There was no finer point in music history, LoSasso said he believes.
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“Our goal is to bring that vibe back. That’s the most prolific era of music. The ‘50s were great, and there’s good stuff today. But growing up, we always said this was the soundtrack of our lives,” said LoSasso, Seldom Surreal’s drummer.
Seldom Surreal has tapped into the energy, depth and sound of the late ‘60s and early ’70s to create their own original music. The band’s first EP, “Please Stand By,” came out April 1, a three-song teaser for a full album that is planned for later in the year.
The record sets the band off in a new direction that has infused an added excitement into their playing.
“We said, let’s nail these three songs down and throw this out as a little sample, instead of trying to do a whole album right away. I want to see what kind of interest we can get with the EP,” LoSasso said.
LoSasso, a Greenwood resident, has been a staple in the central Indiana music scene for decades. He has been in more than a dozen bands, including well-known rock outfit Sindicato.
The roots of Seldom Surreal came from a band he was playing in with keyboardist Bobby Schneider. When they split from that band, they decided to form their project, focusing on that peak period of rock and roll.
“We kind of wanted to go down that path of late ’60s, early ’70s stuff. That was the core that we took our music from,” LoSasso said.
The band’s current inception includes bassist Tony Spurlin and guitarist Zack Brown. Their catalog covers a broad range of classic rock, from the Zombies to Joe Cocker to Cream.
Soul music staples such as Wilson Pickett, the Temptations and Sam Cooke also are prominently featured in their set lists.
“It’s the stuff that didn’t get overplayed back in the day, stuff that people 40 years later go, ‘Whoa, I haven’t heard this in a while,’ “ LoSasso said. “I wanted to bury ourselves in that time period.”
Though that classic rock sound is still their foundation, they’ve built off of it to expand their repertoire.
Now, their live shows might feature a stirring rendition of “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison and the Yardbirds’ “Heart Full of Soul” alongside “Twice as Hard” by the Black Crowes.
“We’ve expanded a little, incorporated some newer stuff, artists like Jack Johnson and Train. So we’ve opened that door a little bit,” LoSasso said.
Seldom Surreal prides themselves on their harmonies, as all four band members contribute vocals to the music. That allows the members to do some unique songs that they otherwise wouldn’t approach, such as the four-part harmonies on their cover of “Seven Bridges Road” by the Eagles.
“When we pick out the songs, we tend to gravitate to those kinds of songs,” LoSasso said.
While honing their skills performing a steady slate of shows throughout central Indiana, the band also started experimenting with their own original music.
The most advanced batch of songs became “Please Stand By,” a nod to the old test patterns that used to broadcast on television in the ‘60s after all of the shows went off the air for the night.
“It was something I could draw from the ‘60s and put everyone’s head back in that time frame,” LoSasso said.
Included on the EP are tunes showcasing the breadth of Seldom Surreal’s talents. “Walkin’ On” was written by Brown, an emotional acoustic tribute to his father. The song features Chandler Appleby, Schneider’s niece, on cello.
“You Don’t Call Me Tonight” is more expansive, while “Afraid to Go There” delves into personal demons and pulling your life together again, LoSasso said.
“Please Stand By” was recorded at Pop Machine, a boutique recording studio in Indianapolis. The songs were mastered by Andy Van Dette, a New York-based artist who has worked with artists such as Rush, Sevendust, the Beastie Boys and Kid Rock in the past.
The EP will be unveiled Saturday during a concert at the Garage Pub & Grill in Columbus. Only available digitally, it can be downloaded at sites such as CD Baby, Spotify and iTunes, as well as Seldom Surreal’s own site.
“We’re not going to do a pressing, because most people just get their music online these days,” LoSasso said. “We won’t have a tangible CD to hold. But then we hope to press our full album later in the summer.”
What: A central Indiana band with Johnson County ties focusing on the powerful music of 1960s and 1970s rock.
- Carl LoSasso, drums
- Bobby Schneider, keyboards
- Tony Spurlin, bass
- Zack Brown, guitars
What do they play? Set lists include songs such as “Love Her Madly” by the Doors, “Doctor My Eyes” by Jackson Brown, “She’s Not There” by the Zombies, “Breakdown” by Tom Petty, “Free” by Train and “The Weight” by the Band.
Original music: Seldom Surreal will release its first batch of original songs Saturday. “Please Stand By” will include three tunes written entirely by the band.
How to get it: The EP will be available at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Rhapsody, eMusic, 7digital.com and at SeldomSurreal.com.
Saturday: 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., the Garage Pub & Grill, 308 Fourth St., Columbus
April 8: Freedom Fest, 6 to 10 p.m., American Legion Post 70, 1125 Miller Ave., Shelbyville