BY Molly Congdon
The Main Squeeze, the five-piece band with their origins in Bloomington, Indiana, blends the genres of funk, soul and rock n’ roll to create a musical mixture that’s good until the last note.
Since 2010, they’ve continued to leave audiences “Freshly Squozen.”
Currently they are based in Chicago working on their latest album.
Their resume consists of performances at some of the country’s biggest festivals, including Bonnaroo and Electric Forest; they were hand-selected to play the Rolling Stone Super Bowl XLVI Pre-Party; and have shared the stage with prominent artists such as The Roots, Jane’s Addiction and Aloe Blacc.
On July 15, they took the stage at Upstate Concert Hall and filled the place with a vibrant energy that just made you feel good listening.
The master of the keys, Ben “Smiley” Silverstein, spills the skinny about their new album, “Mind Your Head,” which is being produced by Randy Jackson, what sets them apart from other groups and how the name of the band came to be.
Q: Why does everyone call you “Smiley?”
A: It’s been a nickname since I was like 8 years old. I smile a lot, even when I sleep; if I was in person with you you’d probably know — unless you can feel my smile through the phone.
Q: How did you come up with the band name?
A: When we were first starting off, we were on our way to our first show ever and we were picking up everyone in the band and when we picked up our drummer, Brad — who was only in the band for about a month — he told us about a dream he’d had. He said: “I woke up and I was really thirsty and I walked over to the fridge to get something to quench my thirst and hundreds of oranges piled out at me.” He looked for something to juice them with and he didn’t find anything so he just picked up orange by orange and squeezed it all in his mouth. He saw a banner over the fridge that said: “The Main Squeeze.”
Q: When did the band officially form?
A: The summer of 2009 we started jamming together and did a few shows; it was a slow start.
Q: What sets you guys apart from other groups?
A: We are five people from five different backgrounds musically, geographically and just personalitywise. We decided to join forces and meet in the middle to create the sound that is now “The Main Squeeze.” We call it funk, soul and rock n’ roll; it’s a melting pot of five coming all into one.
Q: When would you say was your big break?
A: I wouldn’t say we even have had a big break yet. There are a couple things that stand out, like we won this competition in China back in 2012, which was an international battle of the bands; one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to me. There were 12 bands around the world that were chosen to get flown out and compete and we were one of the twelve; the only other band from America was a jazz group from New York. It was a three-day competition and we won.
Q: Tell me about where you’ve performed.
A: When we go on tour we pretty much hit every major city in country; we did about 160 shows last year and some of them are festivals like Bonnaroo and Electric Forest.
Q: What was your favorite venue and why?
A: We have our top-five favorite shows that we’ve played, like after a show if it was kind of unbelievable we all just kind of look at each other and say, “Yeah, that was top five.” That actually just happened at High Sierra a couple weekends ago; our second set was amazing and the crowd was super into it — you could feel the energy and we got an encore chant.
Q: What’s coming up in the future?
A: We’ve been recording for about a year and a half now. Randy Jackson — the old judge from American Idol — is producing it and we recorded with him out in LA, and that was a really cool process. It’s ten songs and it’s called “Mind Your Head” and it comes out Sept. 15.