It’s nearly a necessity for anyone who has spent time in Myrtle Beach in the past decade to have heard of The Necessary Band.
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This omnipresent party band has played nearly every venue, bar and hole-in-the-wall the Grand Strand has to offer, making a name for themselves first as a premier cover band and now as part of a resurgent group of original acts in the area.
With their second original album set to be unveiled Sunday as part of a CD release party at the Dead Dog Saloon in Murrellls Inlet, the band is looking to further solidify its transition to making original in a variety of different styles.
ListenUp sat down with bassist and vocalist Mark Necessary recently during one of the band’s energetic live sets to talk about the album, the business of making music and more. Here’s a look at what he had to say:
How long have you been together as a band?
Me and the drummer, Dan, have been together 10 years. We started things out as The Necessary Brothers and it was me and my brother and him.
We’ve had this lineup since my brother went up to Pennsylvania about 5 years ago and we hired Mike and Monty. We did used to have a percussion player in that transition time between bands, but that didn’t quite work out and we’ve had these guys going on four years now.
Has this stretch of having this lineup been the most productive years for the band?
Well, what you have to realize is that I haven’t done anything but play music for a decade, since I met Dan, the drummer. But, for the first 5 years of it, we were a 99% cover band.
When the rest of these guys joined the band is when we really started working on our originals and making more out of it. It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done, playing with some real talented guys who all get along. And that’s the nice part, there’s no B.S., nobody hates each other … I know everyone says that sort of thing, but I really mean it.
This will be your second full-length release. How do you think you’ve grown since the first album?
Well, I’ll tell you this. As soon as we come together as a five-piece band we started writing music and started putting it out. And the thing I can say with the first record is that we’re real proud of it. It got a good response and I enjoyed the experience, but it was really like this guy wrote that song, this guy wrote the other song. There was not a lot of collaboration and basically just everyone came with their own song. Which we’re all writers and we’re all singers.
With this album, there may have been one guy who came up with the original idea, but it was a lot of cohesiveness and that’s what’s important to us about this album coming out. Almost every song has at least two principle songwriters.
Me and Monty, the keyboard player, went through a stretch where he stayed at my house ... There’s nothing like waking up at 6 a.m. to your kids watching “Thundercats” with your keyboard player who still hasn’t been to bed yet.
But we had a stretch where we literally co-wrote 5-6 songs on the record and that, to me, is really the biggest jump from this album versus the other.
How long from start to finish did it take you to put together the new album?
The band I played in with my brother, we wrote songs and took them to the studio, we were never successful because we couldn’t even play what we wrote. Seriously, we couldn’t even come up with that many parts.
Now my policy is we write the songs, we play them live and make sure they’re gellin’. They can grow in the studio all they want, but you have to make sure you have a good viable song before you even take it there.
Recording wise, we stepped into Sea Note Recordings in March. I have known Seth [Funderburk] for a number of years and Sea Note is like a second home for us. We might have actually gotten done with this a lot sooner, but Ten Toes Up was in the recording their new album, and when their manager is the owner of the studio, they tend to get the date they want.
It was sporadically recorded, we did the rhythm sessions in two days, and the overdubs, mixing and all that was just a day here, two days there, etc. It wasn’t an atrocious amount of time, it was just lengthy because of sharing studio space.
What are your hopes for this album and what the band will do once it’s released?
You know, my hope for every album is basically the same. Number 1 the realization is, it doesn’t matter whether I think it’s good. It’s really up to the people to decide.
We obviously have tried to create and make music that we’re happy with, and at the same time, try to not draw everything out 12 minutes long so that it’s actually enjoyable to some listeners. But my hope is just that we can make enough noise in this town for as long as it takes to get to another level.
You know I started out working in the bars making $5 a night and I can now feed my family off of this, so I can see that it’s a progression. It’s just a matter of whether we’re the type of band that somebody else wants to help out.
But my biggest hope really is that we can make enough noise to entice a manager, somebody who’s got some contacts to help us get bigger festival gigs and help us grow that way.
What has been your theory on how to build your fan base and to approach the business side of growing the band?
The first professional band I played in North Carolina, we had a manager who became a mentor to me. When the band started we were all young and he was an older guy who had made it to the top — he had toured with a national act — he taught me a lot of what not to do as much as what to do.
One big thing is staying sober during the gigs— no drinkin’, no drugs. I believe in always being professional as a band. If you’re 8 to 10 minutes early then you’re late. There’s a lot of bands that think starting 45 minutes late is OK, but that doesn’t happen in this band. Period.
The other things I can say about how we run our business is that we don’t burn no bridges. Every gug we’ve ever walked away from still holds us in high regard because we don’t cancel gigs. I don’t care if you offer me three times the money somewhere else, it just doesn’t happen.
I always though to myself that if I’d do it to them, then you know in the back of your mind that I’d do it to you too. So what kind of loyalty can you build like that?
A lot of things come from respect for your audience. There’s a lot of bands that start out on 10 and get pissed off when they get told to turn it down. Our policy is to start on 3, because you know what, when a bar owner comes and asks you to turn it up a little bit, that makes you feel good!
Are there any major themes or areas where you tend to venture back to regularly with the songs on this new album?
What has been our strength as a cover band that some people will knock us on with our originals is that we play a wide variety of music. One both our first album and this one your gonna find a blues song, a jazz song, a rock song, a southern rock song, and a funky song.
It’s just, we are who we are, instead of trying to say we’re going to be a southern rock band, we just write what comes out and make the best of it that we can.
I laugh sometimes and I like to say this about our band “Everybody in the world likes one of our songs.” There may not be a lot of people that like all 10, but there’s going to be one on there that gets you thinking “Man, that’s my style of music!”
Is it a natural thing that everyone in the band sings and writes?
I learned a long time ago about folks that I like to call freeloaders. I figure if you can’t do two jobs you ain’t good enough.
In our cover show, we do everything from “You Dropped the Bomb on Me” by the Gap Band all the way to the “Whipping Post” by Allman Brothers, we do a wide a variety, but we move. With some of our funky stuff, we’ve got choreographed routines and all that.
I’m just a big fan of giving it your all. If all you can do is play the guitar that’s fine by me, but with singers, I have a hard time with those guys who just sing. It’s like they don’t set up half as much stuff, come to the gig and think they’re the man. I think well I could do my job, your job and somebody else’s all at the same time.
I personally think of it as mandatory for our band that we all do as much as we do.
What have you seen locally over 10 years of playing here? Is the local music scene any different now than it was then?
As a musician, I’ve heard the term music scene be thrown around so much. But I won’t lie, I never felt as much a part of a scene as I did going and playing with Ten Toes Up at their CD release party and seeing four, five, six hundred people show up to see an original band. That’s big stuff right there.
I used to be wowed by what Tim Clark could do or what NTranze could do, and I modeled alot of the business after being successful in that direction. And then to see a band do the impossible in Myrtle Beach, making some noise with their own music that’s great stuff.
I feel like the music scene is picking up here in Myrtle Beach and I’m just glad to be tagging along. We pull our own weight, 4-5 years ago I created the Homegrown Music Festival. I’ve done it three times now where we put on a festival giving artists a chance to come out and do a set of all their own original music for someone other than just a bar crowd.
So I’ve tried to do things to help with the music community around here, but sometimes it just is what it is.
How tough has it been to adapt from being a cover band to making your own music?
Seeing what Ten Toes Up has done, I think they are a model that I’m seriously looking at for how to go about making the transition from covers to originals.
We started out as a cover band and right now we’re about 40 percent original material in every show. That’s a big leap. But now how do we make that leap to 70 percent or more. And I’ll be honest, you could put us in the coliseum in front of 200,000 people and I’m still gonna do a James Brown cover song.
I’m not trying to say “Oh, it’s original music or nothing!” I enjoy playing “Brown-Eyed Girl” because people enjoy it and my policy is that if we’re having fun up on stage, they’re having fun out there.
And the only thing that I’ve learned is this. We’ll go out to talk to kids for career day and I’ll tell them this: “If you get into the music business to make money and be successful, you’re never going to have any fun. But if you get into the music business to have fun, hell, you might make a little money.”
Why should people check out the new album?
Well, it’s good music. We enjoyed writing it and we hope to get a good response from it. Our strength has always been the variety of what we play and in our influences.
Our guitar player brings in lots of different influences, but he’s obviously a rock ‘n’ roll and blues guitar player. The drummer, started playing drum corps when he was four years old, he’s big into drum corps and Steely Dan. The keyboard player, he’s all over top of Dave Matthews and things and that’s what he got into music for. And then me, I’m a James Brown and Motown sort of guy...I love rock and I love it all, but give me some soul music and I’m happy.
So we bring all of that to the album and just try to make it shine. I tell people all the time “we got funk, soul and rock ‘n’ roll” and we just hope they like what we got.