Scranton Band release second record, Starting to Believe.


The Southside Bandits are stealing the spotlight before the holidays begin. The alternative-rock and reggae band hosts a release party for their new album, Starting to Believe, at Ale Mary’s at the Bittenbender, 126 Franklin Ave., Scranton on Wednesday, Nov. 25, at 10 p.m.
“We don’t want this to be a typical album release party,” said lead vocalist Jame Zaleski. “We’re expecting this to be our biggest show yet and are very excited.”
Compared to their first album, Starting to Believe features a new lineup of musicians with more aggressive drum playing by Corey Buckley and Andrew Spangenberg on bass guitar. The album also highlights the piano. Zaleski says Starting to Believe is a strong album because the band “put more time into this album and we’re overall better musicians than we were a year ago,” during the year of recording.
They released their debut album, Where We Going?, last November. The record was recorded at Windmill Agency Recording Studio with sound engineer Eric Ritter and they are happy to be working with him again.
“Ritter is very laid back and we enjoy working with him a lot,” lead guitarist Brian Green said. “Originally when we first met him, we had the intention of recording a club demo. We only had a couple original songs.”
As the band’s first recording session continued, they felt so comfortable with Ritter that they ended up tracking eight songs instead of the few they had in mind. The club demo was forgotten and they planned to record their first album.
Zaleski and Green agreed that Starting to Believe was recorded just as quickly as the first, but still represents their genuine passion.
“We don’t like to waste time and get too particular with dubbing and going over the recording for little things,” Zaleski said. “If you get crazy, that’s when you overdo it as you try to create a ‘masterpiece.’ We want to have a natural and authentic sound. We want our recordings to sound like what you would hear when you attend a live show.”
Southside Bandits like to bring energy to the crowd by making sure every show is different. They’ve never played the same set twice. They enjoy keeping the set list fresh both for the audience and for themselves — sometimes even playing songs they haven’t practiced.
“It’s good to be spontaneous,” Zaleski said. “We brought out a keyboard last show and performed a couple songs that we never have played before. We played “Come Sail Away” by the Styx and incorporated a reggae jam of “Caress Me Down” by Sublime into it. We try to make it unique, memorable and fun.”
They also like to add diversity to their performance by inviting musical guests on stage to join them.
“We’ll bring Wally Green up on stage every once in a while,” Green Said. “He’ll sing and jam with us. While it’s not a part of our set list, it gets the crowd going because so many people from Southside know him.”
The members of Southside Bandits knew each other growing up and would have casual jam sessions. One night, the band performed at a private party and were introduced as “Jamie Z and the Southside Bandits” to the audience. At the end of the show, the crowd was chanting their name. The band realized that even if they wanted to, changing their name would prove difficult with recognition already growing. But when the first album was released, Zaleski decided that he didn’t want his name to be before the band. Though he wrote the majority of the songs, he felt the band’s name was too long and preferred the simpler name of The Southside Bandits.
Starting to Believe will be available for $10 at the show and can also be played at after the album’s release.
The band will also play at Oleary’s Pub, 514 Ash St., Scranton on Saturday, Nov. 28.
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— cathleen lathrop