Porky's Groove Machine
photo by Graham Washatka
Q&A with Porky’s Groove Machine Guitarist and Power Ranger, Ilan Blanck
Ahead of their slot at The Majestic’s New Year’s Eve party, we sat down with Porky Groove Machine guitarist (and Power Ranger) Ilan Blanck about their recent recording sessions, what their live act is all about and winning a Guster contest. Check it out below!
MI: Thanks for taking the time, Ilan. So, Porky’s Groove Machine isn’t your typical live-music experience. Tell our readers what you’re all about.
IB: We like to bill our live show as an inside joke that the audience is immediately in on. Every band member has their own dedicated character and costume.
We do everything from covers to weird originals about spreadsheet. As we started wearing costumes, we doubled down on the improv part, as it became clear that was resonating with people. Now, we bring the audience in on jokes and play drinking games, etc.
We’ve always been influenced by 70s funk rock, mixed with the humor of Frank Zappa and Weird Al, with some 90s PBS and current public radio in there as well.
We’re really just focused on playing fun music that people can dance to and come be silly with us for a couple hours.
MI: You guys won a contest from the popular alt-rock band, Guster. What was that like?!
IB: Yes, that was incredible! They’re really open about how much they benefited from touring with other bands when they were starting out.
So, they launched a contest to feature local bands where they were touring and they picked us to open an Indianapolis show in November 2015. That’s still probably the biggest show we’ve played yet. The crowd was about 1,300 people.
Suddenly people were tweeting at us and asking questions. It really gave us a feeling we could connect with people.
MI: Wow, that’s super cool! And you guys have been touring pretty consistently since then?
IB: Yeah, over the next few years we relocated to the Twin Cities and kept playing weekend shows every few months.
Last year, we played throughout the Minneapolis area, the Wisconsin Funk Fest, which was a lot of fun and recently had an amazing time playing Madison’s Atwood Fest. We did a big tour this past summer and we’re currently touring with People Brothers Band. It’s all been super exciting.
MI: Sounds like it! And last summer you released a new studio album.
IB: Yeah! We recorded an album that released last March called Hello My Name Is.
It was our first time in a studio and we were fortunate enough to record with engineer/percussionist Jason McGlone, who has done a lot of great records with local groups.
We were in the studio about four to six weeks. We had access to incredible instruments and took our time mixing to get it right.
It was very refreshing to have something sound so good right away. We also shot a really fun music video, Double Dip, which you can see on our YouTube channel.
MI: Can you tell us about the new EP you guys are recording soon?
IB: Yeah, we’re heading into studio for new 5-song EP, working with a world-class keyboardist who has been a figure in the Minneapolis music scene for 10 years. He actually plays a little bit on the album and really takes us to that next level.
The whole collection of songs is on the funkier side of things. It’s all live singing, with five different songs done by 5 different people. We explore vital themes like SAD, traffic, ambiguity in language, and swamp ass, of course.
MI: Haha! Love it. Can people get the music digitally?
IB: You can find all of our music streaming on all your typical streaming platforms – Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, Band Camp. We also have them on our website, PorkysGrooveMachine.com, and they’re available at all our shows.
MI: You’re playing The Majestic’s famous New Year’s Eve gig with the People’s Brothers Band! Any plans for the show you can share?
IB: It’s our third time playing The Majestic and we couldn’t be more excited!!
This will actually be the first show with our new singer, Steffi. We’re going to try some different stage configurations with new antics, covers and originals throughout. We’re also really excited to jam with People Brothers Band and hopefully the other bands playing that night.
Big secret is we’re having a close friend and amazing videographer record the show to make a nice new live video to release at some point.
So, we have A LOT going on but we’re gonna try to pull out all the stops for the show and hopefully see you guys there.
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Porky’s Groove Machine Online:
Porky’s Groove Machine Lineup:
Ilan Blanck (Guitarist, Power Ranger); Larry Rivard (Drums, Lion); Nick Allen (Bass, Squid); Eli Edelman (Percussion, Banana); Matt Lowe (Trombone, Hot Dog Trombone); Marshall Yoes (Trumpet, Dumpster Boy); Shafta Tresan (Saxophone, Unicorn); Steffi Brill (Vocals, Martian)
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Porky’s Groove Machine
CD: Hello My Name Is Record Label: 688546 Records
• Download Hello My Name Is on Amazon