Fans and friends gathered tightly around the small Oasis Café stage where five boys – Ryan Reutershan (guitar), Oliver Kammerman (guitar), Nate Gerard (drums), Benjy Bruno (bass) and Laurent Blanchette (trombone) – stood ready to rock out on Tuesday, Sept. 21. Together, these five locals make up Godchilla.
The crowd could not stand still through their entire set. They danced to the chorus of “I Thought I Knew,” bellowed out the lyrics of the well known track “Buscando” and clapped in unison during “Harmony.”
Feedback from the audience is what fuels Godchilla’s live performances. The audience and band work simultaneously to sustain the energy levels at their shows.
“People go to the bars to see their friends’ bands, listen to music and have fun,” said Gerard. “We want to see people moving and having a good time.”
The band began when Kammerman watched Reutershan perform during an open mic night at the former 60 Main café.
“I was really impressed and wanted to make music and jam with him,” Kammerman said.
The two eventually expanded their duo into the current five members to increase the sound dynamic.
The key ingredient of the band’s music making process is collaboration. If one member has an idea, they will work together and build upon it.
“One person will bring the emotion of the song, they have a vision in their head of what it’s going to sound like. Then everyone lays down a part that accompanies it,” said Kammerman. “We’re all singer songwriters, so whoever brings the meat gets to dictate how the song goes. Everyone switches off taking the lead role.”
The sometimes funk-country, sometimes progressive folk tunes are really a mash up of whatever genres sound good to the group. They consciously try to blend styles of music that don’t necessarily go together. Some songs go from a reggae verse to a country chorus while another has a folk flavor mixed with rock ‘n’ roll.
“We all have different styles so we play differently, but it meshes together,” said Blanchette.
The band said they are ecstatic about their success in New Paltz, but they hope to expand further. They have played gigs at Snugs, Oasis, Cabaloosa’s, Bacchus and several house shows. Their popularity has spread primarily through word of mouth by supportive friends who attend every show. Last year they won the Battle of the Bands and were the opening performance at Rock Against Racism.
The bandmates said they agree they want to maintain modesty in their success and focus on entertaining listeners.
“Personally I’m into the fun aspect of it,” said Reutershan. “I like playing shows and I want to play in other places besides New Paltz, but I’m not concerned with going professional.”
The band’s name resembles the Japanese movie monster Godzilla and was derived from Reutershan’s obsession with the word “chill.” For fun, he and his friends compiled a list of words and phrases such as terminally chill, who wants to be a chillionaire, chillenium falcon and chill Wayne. Eventually they came across Godchilla, and it stuck.
Godchilla’s next performance will be at Snugs on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 11 p.m. For free downloads of their music visit rallytherobots.com/godchilla.