Testing, Testing, In Conversation With The Russ Liquid Test

Since 2013, Russ Liquid has been making future-vintage groove music and serenading our ears with smooth rhythms of trumpet, saxophone, and even flute. You can’t help but dance along or at the very least tap your feet to the funky beats. This Summer, Russ has taken on a project that is going to change the music game forever. Enter The Russ Liquid Test, which features the guitar shredding Andrew Block, who often accompanies Gramatik on tour, and drummer Nick Mercadel; together they form the ultimate jam, funky, jazzy collaboration band of the Summer. Watching the band throw down at Summer Camp Music Festival was truly a special treat, seeing as it was one of their first shows to date.

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If you’re trying to catch one of the most funkadelic sets this Summer, you can experience The Russ Liquid Test at a select few upcoming festivals including Sonic Bloom and Shambhala. On Friday evening, it was truly a treat to catch the band kick off Summer Camp on a funky tone. Following the band’s set, I was able to catch up with Andrew and Russ about the past, present, and future evolution of both The Russ Liquid Test and their individual careers. Be sure to check out Russ Liquid’s website to stay up-to-date on tour dates and those fresh new releases coming out soon.

GLC: So you guys just wrapped up your set. What are your initial thoughts from show and how did you enjoy the crowd response?

Andrew: I enjoyed the show immensely. This is a new thing for us to bring the live shows with a drummer, and it was actually our first show featuring this drummer [Nick Mercadel].

Russ: Given all that I think the show went really well, and right of the bat we were having a bit of technical difficulties that pushed our set time back, but it was still packed out there and the fans were patiently waiting for us out there. So that was a really awesome crowd response.

GLC: Do you get nervous before performances, and do you have any rituals to ease your jitters?

Russ: Okay, So basically let me put it this way, shows that I’m not getting nervous for are a warning sign for me. Because getting nervous that means you care, and we get nervous. Especially considering today, with our technical difficulties and with our new set and new songs. But everything turned out really great.

GLC: How did each of you first get involved as musicians? Did you have very musical upbringings?

Andrew: So for me, I showed an interest in music at an early age, I started on piano, but I didn’t really have any major musical influences until I graduated college, as far as good music to listen to and guidance.

Russ: So I kind of had a musical upbringing, I had uncles who played around on guitar but not professionally or anything, and my mom played a little piano. All my family were really big music fans though so I caught on to the right things and was brought up around the scene.

Andrew: Yeah, there was no one really in our family for us to model our careers after.

Russ: Yeah we kinda started it for ourselves, we here because we weren’t afraid to go out and start finding what we love.

GLC: So tell me how you were inspired to form the band and what creative aspirations you had for the project?

Russ: I’ve always wanted to have a band, it’s always been a dream of mine. I really love making music together, and being able to collab and bring other talent to the table.

GLC: Do you feel your creative aspirations with the Russ Liquid Test have been fully realized or do you see room for it to keep growing?

Andrew: I definitely see room for us to keep growing. To be honest this is just a stepping point for us.

Russ: The Russ Liquid Test in my opinion, as in Andrew and I working together is as “The Hobbit” is to “The Lord of The Rings”. So “The Hobbit” is the precursor to the trilogy, whether that’s called the Russ Liquid Test or something else. It’s not really about the name of the band but rather those who play in it.

GLC: Does playing in The Russ Liquid Test allow you to explore new elements of playing guitar compared to with Gramatik?

Andrew: Yeah, so the stuff I do with Gramatik I come up with most of my stuff, there is always some stuff that is in place but Gramatik is a great gig because he allows me interpret his music. With Russ it’s even more so because it’s our project, and it’s really cool cause Russ and I come from different musical worlds.

Russ: We really are more than just one style of music

Andrew: Yeah so where Russ is jazz I am blues, where Russ is classical I am more funk. So we literally come from different worlds, and playing with Russ is the first project where our talents can really overlap as opposed to being on top of each other so it’s cool because we will start off with Russ and then I get to throw my interpretation on to it. So it’s called The Russ Liquid Test but it is really a 50/50 interpretation of both of us.

GLC: Is there any particular Russ Liquid Test set that is your favorite to date? If so, what made it stand out amongst the rest?

Russ: It’s today, because it is the freshest one.

Andrew: Every time we played a show to this night everything has been different, and it has always been this constant process of refining, which has, led us to here. From here we get to keep going forwards. At this point every gig we get to play is our favorite.

Russ: Yeah it’s kind of like a learning curve. We learn from each show, and so every show we are playing is our best work.

Andrew: As far as electronic sets go, it’s cool because we are able to keep it fresh and improvisational because we have more than just a laptop and mixing, we add that live element, and there are parts where Russ will cut out the track and then it’s just me or the band playing.

GLC: When performing as a band, do you tend to stick to a rigid structure or do you make room for live improvisation?

Russ: So that’s one of the new things we did today that we haven’t done previously, which is allowing the ability to jam sections out. So we are definitely leaving lots of room for improv.

GLC: Do you have plans to record and release new music as The Russ Liquid Test?

Russ: Absolutely. We have an EP in the works, I can’t say much more but just know I recently did a radio show for these people and we are working on new music. We’ll say that.

Andrew: We have a SHIT LOAD of new music for you guys. Quote me on that.

GLC: Okay, awesome it was great getting to talk with you guys!

Russ: Thanks for taking time to talk us!