By MIKE CHAIKEN
They are one unit now. But it took some musical dovetailing to get local band Little Ugly to develop what they call “Orchestral Folk Rock.”
The four-piece band— which is Michael Day on vocals and guitar, Nick Dickinson on drums/ percussion, Kaia Pazdersky on vocals and violin, and Jared Gardner on upright bass— performs Saturday at Barley Vine on Main Street. Bristol.
If you’ve seen Little Ugly perform, their sound is unique but cohesive. But to get that sound, Michael said the four musicians had to meet in one space after coming from separate directions.
“We all grew up with very different musical backgrounds. Everything from metal to show tunes,” explained Michael, who originally was from Plainville. But, he continued, “One common aspect of our tastes though was the raw emotion that music can make you feel. When players can take the stage and move you with only their voices and instruments, it’s really something.”
“That’s what inspired us to move in this direction,” said Michael. “We didn’t want amps, effects pedals, etc. Just us and our instruments trying to move people through song.”
Bringing these disparate musical interests together began “when I decided to put down my electric guitar and pick up the acoustic,” said Michael.
“I wanted to change my writing style and approach songwriting from a completely different thought process,” he said. “That’s where I got the idea of all acoustic instruments.”
Michael said, “It doesn’t sound so drastic of a change but where I would normally write a lead guitar part, I wrote a violin part. For me, it was a revelation. I began to look for players with eclectic tastes in music who I knew would really add their own style.”
“We’ve had a few lineup changes over the years,” said Michael, “but our recent success is due to our current lineup’s bond and true musical connection. Kaia and I write together as if we have been for our entire lives and Nick and Jared seem to know exactly what to play to take our compositions to the next level.”
Along their musical journey, Little Ugly has received several awards validating their musical direction. Little Ugly won “Best Musician/Band” in Hartford Magazine’s “Best of 2012.” In 2011, the foursome won the Hartford Advocate Grand Band Slam’s “Best Rock Band” honors.
“It’s been incredible,” said Michael of the honors Little Ugly has received. “Everyone says this, but we really have been blown away each time we have won an award. We still view ourselves as the band we were a few years back trying to figure out where to gig, what songs were good, and if people were even going to listen. I guess we know all that a little better now, but with Connecticut’s amazing music scene that we have the honor of being a part of it’s still hard for us to grasp sometimes that we’ve come so far.”
The band is starting to ramp up its recorded output, something that has been missing up till now. “As of now, we have our newest single, ‘And We Said…,’ up for free download on Bandcamp. We recently launched a very successful Kickstarter to raise money for our new EP, which is due out in July and will be celebrated on July 20 at Arch Street Tavern in Hartford.”
After surpassing its fund raising goal for the EP by a good margin, Michael said Little Ugly was able to record five tracks that effectively represent who they are as a musical entity.
“It’s a big departure from anything anyone has ever heard from us. We spent a lot of time on these songs and really tried to bring out as many elements and textures of our diverse backgrounds as we could,” said Michael.
But, as they move to provide fans with a recording, Michael said, live performances are where the band thrives and what has attracted its UGLY fans.
“Performing live is like going home,” said Michael. “Our live show is a bit more raw and very energetic (than Little Ugly on record).”
“We are definitely an all ages band,” said Michael of the band’s live shows. “We love looking out into a crowd and seeing our peers bobbing their heads and seeing a mom or dad dance with their kids.”
“We really have so much fun on stage together and I think it’s apparent and the crowd feeds off of that energy,” said Michael.
Live, Little Ugly is also about original material, said Michael. And when they do reach out to perform someone else’s music, Michael said Little Ugly looks for the unexpected.
“Our covers are usually chosen by our fans,” said Michael “We cover songs from Stevie Wonder and The Beatles all the way to Tool and Muse. It’s pretty fun to watch the crowd react to an ‘Orchestral Folk Rock’ band rocking out to The Beatles’ ‘Helter Skelter’ and Tool’s ‘Sober.’ No one sees it coming.”
The Bristol gig came about when Jesse Gallagher of the Ingraham House and Michael Seery of Seery Strings approached them by email.
“Our answer was, ‘Of course.’”
Michael said, “I’m particularly excited because I grew up one town over in Plainville and don’t usually get the opportunity to play so close to my hometown.”
And what exactly does the name, Little Ugly, mean.
“It’s pretty simple, actually,” said Michael. “When I first started writing I was afraid, as all songwriters are, that people wouldn’t connect with my songs. I felt they were a little off, maybe even a bit… ugly. But I knew that all my favorite artists had the same struggles and had overcome them. I learned from them to have faith that people would be able to find the good that I myself was struggling to find in my music.”
“Little Ugly simply means: Beauty in all things,” said Michael. “Even that which is a ‘Little Ugly.’”
Little Ugly performs at Barley Vine, 182-184 Main St., Bristol on Saturday, May 25. The show begins at 9:30 p.m.
For more information, go to LittleUglyMusic.com