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Hamptons Life

Jun 30, 2019 9:27 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

The Movement Brings Their Sound To Amagansett

The Movement will make a stop at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, to promote their new album, “Ways of the World.” COURTESY PHIL EMERSON AND THE MOVEMENT
Jul 2, 2019 11:03 AM

The evolution of a band’s sound over time says a lot about them.The Movement, a band that got its start in the early 2000s in Columbia, South Carolina, has changed its sound numerous times, going from drum machine induced hip-hop to reggae infused rap, and accoustically-raw sounding to something hypnotic and electronic with smooth vibes and tropical beats.

The band trudged through the muck—hitting hard times often—only to find itself in the middle of a reggae reform, often dubbed the California-Roots Reggae movement occurring out west.

On Sunday, July 7, the band—made up of Josh Swain, Gary Jackson, Jay Schmidt and Matt Goodwin—will make a stop at Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett to promote their seventh studio album, “Ways of the World,” which has a level of maturity and growth that band members never thought would happen 17 years ago.

“We had no real thought of ever really being a band or doing well, by any means,” said Mr. Swain, reflecting on the The Movement's beginnings. “We didn’t care about making good records, we cared about making records.”

Mr. Swain and Jordan Miller were nearly 24 years old when they moved in together in 2002 and started The Movement.

Both men were fans of rap, and listened to Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. They also listened to Sublime, Slightly Stoopid and Bob Marley, but neither were huge into roots reggae music.

The pair started out by making music with a drum machine and a four-track tape recorder, and in 2004, they put out their first album, "On Your Feet."

“The first record, I think we did in 24 studio hours,” Mr. Swain said. “It just kind of came out, and we were like, ‘that will probably be the only record we ever do.’”

Then, the duo was joined by DJ Riggles, who took over the drum machine duties. Together, they performed their songs up and down the East Coast to small crowds or even just bartenders.

But the album caught the ears of Chris Dibenedetto, a producer who worked with artists like Slightly Stoopid and G. Love.

Mr. Dibenedetto’s studio was in Philadelphia, so the band travelled back and forth from Charleston a few times before Mr. Swain and Mr. Miller decided to move closer to the studio.

DJ Riggles quit the band, and Chuck Treece, who played with the Washington, D.C. punk band Bad Brains, laid down the drums for The Movement’s second album, "Set Sail," which was released in 2008. Mr. Treece introduced the band to Mr. Schmidt, who played bass, and Mr. Jackson, who took over on drums.

As a four-piece band, The Movement toured more than 200 days a year, leading to heavy drinking and drug use, said Mr. Swain who eventually burned out and quit the band.

Once he was out, Mr. Miller and the band put out the group's third studio album, "One More Night," in 2012, before he also ducked out.

“It was his turn to get burned out,” Mr. Swain said. “They called me and said, ‘Jordan quit the band, do you want to play?’"

Despite hesitations, he was convinced to come back, and the band got back into the studio to record their fourth album, "Side by Side" in California. The album was released in 2013.

Consuming at least a bottle of vodka per day, Mr. Swain said, his drinking got out of control again.

The band toured in support of "Side by Side," before Mr. Swain checked into a rehabilitation center. After a year of sobriety, the band released "Golden," its sixth studio album, in 2016.

“Finally after all of that time, we started to sound good,” he said, pointing out that it took 10 to 12 years. “It was a lot of growing up, a lot of mistakes and a lot of changes within the band—changes within ourselves. I feel ‘Golden’ was the first time I really wrote any honest music and anything that I was proud of and thought was good.”

"Golden" was recorded in Louisa, Virginia at White Star Sound—the studio, Mr. Swain said, was in a barn in the middle of the woods. Its producer was Danny Kalb, who had worked with artists like Beck and Willie Nelson.

“He knew what he was doing and we were all sober,” Mr. Swain said.

The band's latest album, "Ways of the World," which dropped on June 7, is a continuation of the sound it put together on "Golden."

Johnny Cosmic of Stick Figure produced the band’s latest album, and even joins the band on the song, "Siren." Other artists like Jacob Hemphill of SOJA, lent their voices to the album as well.

SOJA and The Movement have toured together many times, and Mr. Swain said he considers them to be friends, along with the players from Stick Figure and Slightly Stoopid.

“It’s pretty amazing because when I started listening to Stoopid, I never thought in a million years I could ever be able to tour with them, much less, be like, yeah, those are my homies,” he said. “It’s not to say we are super close, but yeah, I consider them my friends.”

The Movement has played the California Roots Music and Art Festival—a celebration of the California Roots movement—for the past three years, and gets mixed in with the style often. But the East Coast, Mr. Swain said, has its own thing going.

“I always kind of thought the East Coast was a little different from the West Coast,” he said. “I don’t know what it is—we’re just harder.”

He also said he wouldn’t consider The Movement to be a reggae band, although they are lucky to be classified that way.

Coming to New York, much less Long Island, is something Mr. Swain said he never thought would happen.

“For me, it’s a pretty cool thing when we have more than 100 people anywhere,” he said. “If we can get a decent crowd in Amagansett, it makes us so happy to know, ‘wow, there’s people here who want to come see the show.’ It still surprises us.”

The Movement will perform at the Stephen Talkhouse, 161 Main Street, Amagansett, at 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 7. Tickets can be purchased from the venue's website at stephentalkhouse.com.

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