Interview with Root Shock at Funk & Waffles- Syracuse NY



If you happen to live in the central New York Region and haven’t heard the Funk, Rock, Dance, Reggae magnificence that is Root Shock then I dare say you have been living under a rock.  On any given night it seems as if these guy have a show somewhere in the CNY region. That’s because Root Shock might just be the hardest working band in Syracuse NY.  We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the members of Root Shock to talk about what they have planned for the rest of this year


Dan (Chimera): What’s going on? How are you?

Bill: We are great! We are busy. Two three, four times a week. Lot’s of Festivals,  A lot of regional and out of town stuff.

Phil: Pretty much playing every weekend until forever.  

Derek (Chimera): So what festival are you most excited about this season? 

Bill: Grass Roots..

Jess: Grass Roots..

Phil: Grass Roots

Derek (Chimera): What is so exciting about that one? 

Bill: Grass Roots is probably the big daddy festival in the region man. It’s been going on the longest, it’s the most well known, it’s the biggest. It’s also hard to get a slot there. We were surprised they invited us. So it’s really a big honor to be invited to that. So that is probably the big one for us this year. The other would be the Reggae fest a few weeks ago in Ithaca. 

Dan (Chimera): What is your favorite place to perform? Favorite venues so far? 

Bill: Ya know, this place. Funk N Waffles has really been our home for the last three years in Syracuse. They are our friends, It’s like we are playing in our living room. It’s always been a really supportive place. So from that aspect this is really our home. 

Jess: The outdoor  stuff is great. The Westcott is a nice place to play. The Buffalo Iron Works is a cool place. 

Dan V: Ray’s brothers. They have such a unique stage. The acoustics at that place. All wood behind you, coming down into a cone. It just sounds great. It’s out in Bouckville.

Bill: Ray brothers is a really unique venue because it’s not in the city. It’s out in the middle of the country in a corn field. These guys just wanted to have good music so they built an amphitheater, they fenced in the corn field behind their place and they booked the bands they wanted to have. They feed you well, they treat you well. It’s just a great night to play music.

You can definitely get the sense that Root Shock simply love performing. On top of constant touring, they practice at least two times a week. They have at least 3 hours of material on any given night and never play the same set list twice.  So theoretically you can see them 3 days in a row and never get the same songs. According to them, they usually don’t know the set until the moment they take the stage.  This definitely speaks to the talent and musicianship these guys have as a band. According to them, one of the hardest things isn’t the constant performances, it’s not being able to see their favorite bands perform.

Dan V: The biggest and most painful aspect of this is not being able to see the bands I want to see. The people who are all our friends. So if they are over here playing at Funk, we are off somewhere else. That sucks. Although when we get to do a festival and see 3 of 4 of them in one shot that is always great. 

Phil: It’s cool to have this social scene of bands. We are all friends and it’s cool to have camaraderie. These bands we have known for years hitting the same circuits that we are. Even the band playing right now, West End Blend we have made really good friends with. They are based out of Hartford Connecticut and they are insanely good, We are doing a three night run with them and we are going down to New England to do some shows with them. 

Bill: We sleep on their living room floor out there and if they want to stay here with us they can. 

Dan (Chimera): So with all this non stop singing and travelling, is there ever down times where you don’t feel inspired to play or write music and how do you snap out of that? 

Jess: Yes, That definitely does happen. Sometimes things are flowing and sometimes things are a struggle. For me, performing…even if I am sick or exhausted or I don’t know, Even if I have had a bad day and I just kind of feel like sleeping on my couch right now.. As soon as I get up there on that stage everything just dissolves. I put all of my energy into everything. My stress or anger or sadness, I release it from my system and it gets absorbed into the music. It works every time. And if I am not feeling inspired, that’s what the other people are. 

Bill: I feel like half the battle is getting out the door. Once you get up and out you are up and out. As long as you have momentum you can just do it.  We have had a bunch of times, three gigs two hours of sleep in 48 hours. It’s just kind of like the job when you get down to it. We are just blessed to have the gigs. I remember when it used to be, “Hey we have a gig in a month” That is when it’s hard to keep motivating yourself to keep practicing. Getting everyone together in the room and really push it. When the gigs are coming, you are just rolling. That is the easy part. 

Dan (Chimera) : So what are you guys working on right now? Anything you can share with us? Other than the set list? 

Phil: New Album! 

Jess: Jessica is currently working on the set list as we are talking. 

Phil: July 1st we went in and started laying down the second album, the principle tracks. It will take a while but we are working on it. 

Bill: Somewhere between 13 and 17 songs depending on how it pans out. 

Phil: We are stoked, It’s a lot more musically diverse record than the last one. Just a wider variety of grooves and sounds. I think we are a better band than we were going into the studio last time. So it’s gonna be a really cool album

Dan (Chimera) Any different or Specific inspirations to this one or motives that would cause you to change up the style that you had?  

Jess: Just bands I like to see that are really amazing. Bands that really we were like ”Damn, they really stepped it up” like Damn, I want to step it up and getting inspiration from other music. Like, We still got the Reggae thing and we still Reggae but we want to be good at a bunch of different things. We don’t want to half ass Reggae and we don’t want to half ass funk and don’t want to half ass soul. We want to be authentic to all of those genres. We would like to soak up all of those styles and just do our own thing with it. 

Bill: I think we have even more textures than Reggae, Funk and Soul going on in the new thing. I think part of that is that there is more confidence in the band, both in the writing and the performing. We were talking earlier about how everyone in the band has pretty wide ears. We can listen to anything from Jazz to metal in the van when we are travelling places. So with that diverse musical interests it’s hard for that stuff to not start sneaking in in different ways.  As long as we are confident about doing it and doing it well it will still sound how we sound. 

Phil: I’d say we are at least to a contrast to the last record, which is pretty straight forward Reggae with the exception of one or two songs. We have more rock and more of the soul thing happening. Dipping into that bluesy vibe. You are going to hear a lot of different genres working its way in. 

Derek (Chimera) Are there any musicians locally or nationally that you would like to try to get on the album? Collaborations? 

Phil: We have talked about it,  but nothing really conclusive yet.

Dan V: All of them!

Bill: Everyone that we have really like nationally we would like to come in and do a song with us haha! I am sure we will have some people or guests on this album. We did one or two of those on the last one. I think that will just unfold as it unfolds and we won’t know until we get there. 

I think I can speak for all of their fans when I say we are eagerly awaiting that new album. Be sure to check out Root Shock on one of their many tour dates this fall. 

For more information on Root Shock be sure to check out

Also be sure to check out their performance at this years Folkfest 2017 

Video by : Martin James


Root Shock is:

Jessica Brown: Vocals & Percussion
Bill Eppel: Bass
Nick Czarkam: Keyboards & Electronics
Dan Valvassori Guitar 
Phil Grajko: Guitar & Vocals
Cix Nyne: Drums & Vocals


Interview by:

Daniel Ware and Derek Jones