A Conversation With Benny Pezzano of Sol Seed
Nate Gartrell, EDN
Benny Pezzano is a bass player and singer for Sol Seed, a funk-reggae band that originated in Southern Oregon, but is now based in Eugene. Sol Seed has six members, including a saxophonist and didgeridoo player, which Pezzano said puts them apart from other reggae bands. They’re known to frequently play gigs at local clubs and other venues, and have released an EP, called Rising Roots, on iTunes.
Eugene Daily News: Can you explain the background story, of how you all got together?
Benny Pezzano: Sol Seed originated in Medford, between the lead singer Michael Lennon and the drummer Michael Sorensen. They were playing at Jackson Creek Pizza Open Mic Night, hosted by Frankie Hernandez, a local musician who was instrumental in creating Sol Seed. He was like our grandfather; he brought us together at the open mic.
About a year and a half ago, we all transplanted to Eugene at the same time. Here in Eugene, we recently picked up percussionist, MC, and didgeridoo player Sky Guasco. We most recently picked up Greame Pletscher, who’s our sax player. That was a huge step up.
EDN: Not a lot of bands have a didgeridoo player…
BP: Yeah, it’s a pretty unique and original instrument. It’s really cool.
EDN: How’s it been since you came out to Eugene? What’s the music scene like here, in your opinion?
BP: When we were fresh-eared, green musicians in Southern Oregon, we thought: “Eugene, dude! Reggae! Lot’s of reggae, huge of amount of bands, huge amount of music, it’s gonna be the perfect place.”
Then we get to Eugene, and in one sense, it was a perfect place, because there’s a lot of culture. But the music scene is a tough nut to crack, and there’s very little reggae. Even though we don’t play traditional reggae, it’s still really surprising that, aside from Medium Troy and a couple others, we’re the only ones. But now, we’ve figured out how to network. We’ve gotten a name amongst the local bars, local venues. A lot of people know the name “Sol Seed” by now.
EDN: It seems like you’re trying to push the boundaries of reggae a little bit. Can you talk a about your musical influences, and what your group is trying to accomplish musically?
BP: What’s cool about Sol Seed as a whole is that we all draw from really different influences. I draw from a lot of funk. Mike Lennon, our lead singer, he draws from a lot of folk and classic rock. Our lead guitar player, Kenny Lewis, is a huge blues guitar player. Mike Sorensen started out as a jazz drummer, Greame Pletscher has been playing jazz for a while on sax. But reggae serves as kind of a backbone, which comes out naturally. None of us were reggae musicians before we started playing in Sol Seed. It’s the brew that came out of our mesh of musical influences. I couldn’t imagine having more fun playing any other type of music.
We don’t like to fit into a genre. We’ve had to call ourselves a bunch of different genres, like, “Psychedelic Rock-Reggae,” or, “Reggae-Fusion,” but whatever it is, it’s not your typical reggae.
EDN: Anything else you’d like to say?
BP: We’re going on a spring break tour in the Bay Area, and a Northwest tour lined up for summer. And just recently, we were invited to this year’s Tayberry Jam. We got a good slot, and we’re looking forward to it.