“In all honesty, UMan ERA was formed by just that; a series of human errors,” said lead vocalist/guitarist Joe Longo of the Newfoundland trio UMan ERA (pronounced ‘Human Error’). “My original music was performed by me and a friend under another band name. As members were added, internal conflict developed as to whether or not the band would stay as an originals band or steer more toward cover music.”
UMan ERA has just released a debut disc titled “Bad Decisions,” landing somewhere within a sub-genre the band likes to call blues-metal (“I’m not sure that’s a recognized genre,” Longo jokes, “I never see it listed.”) Inspired by diverse sounds like Clutch, The Doors, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and filled out by bassist Slug Yankowy and drummer Tom Koop Sr., the band is conceivably, firing on all cylinders right now with the current lineup.
“In late 2013, I asked Slug to play bass for the band when the position opened up; same deal for Tom Koop Sr. on drums, joining UMan ERA in early 2014,” Longo said.
“The present line up of us three is perfect as far as I’m concerned. I had tried it as a four-member band earlier in 2013 and that did not work out. Slug, Tom, and I are happy as hell as a three-piece band and don’t plan on changing that.”
According to Longo, the primary songwriter in UMan ERA, the “Bad Decisions” record was a long time coming, as far as the material was concerned. The album’s eight tracks were worked on in some form from as far back as 2007.
“Over that span of time some of the songs developed and were adapted to the new band sound,” Longo said. “Slug and Tom added their own parts on bass and drums. We also worked hard on us all singing together and developing vocal harmonies. I think it’s great that we all do our vocal parts in addition to the instrumentals. It makes the band so much more dynamic.”
With pre-production in the bag, the band chose Old Forge’s SI Studios to record the album; a process of which Longo admits was “plain and simple.”
“We decided, together, to record it live, as we would play the songs on stage – with very little added effects or over-dubbing,” he said. “’Bad Decisions’ is us, UMan ERA. But, something awesome happened since we did these recordings this past summer. Just the experience together of recording that music has made us a tighter band and our playing has advanced dramatically. While we are happy with the results of ’ Bad Decisions’ our second CD to be recorded this spring will reflect much that we have learned and our improvements as a band.”
Listening to the album, the band’s knack for a fuzzed-out boogie and rough groove is uncanny. Cuts like “3 Steps Back” are prime examples of the band’s ability to strike like lightning within the pocket.
“I’m glad that you single out ‘3 Steps Back,’” Longo said. “That song and ‘Everything Bad’ do have a boogie feel and we love that tempo. As a matter of fact, we are working on our first original rockabilly-metal tune that takes it a step further for CD number two. And yes, I’d say it is a trademark vibe, tempo and sound of UMan ERA. The sound results from our tunings on the guitar and bass and our equipment configuration. We like playing songs that are upbeat and have a swing or boogie feel.”
So, does band chemistry have anything to do with that locked-in tightness of their music?
“We are brothers,” Longo enthusiastically answers. “These guys have brought this music to life. Slug is a genius on bass and puts his heart and soul into what he plays with this band. He has added dynamics I never imagined and he makes it work for us as a three-piece band. I am playing both rhythm and lead guitar and when I’m cutting over to a lead, Slug keeps it going for rhythm as well a bass, so nothing is lost; nothing drops out.”
Longo is equally complimentary when it comes to his drummer, “the heartbeat of our music.”
“Tom is the most supportive person I have ever worked with in a band,” Longo said. “His enthusiasm has kept me going at times of discouragement or doubt. And, he is the best drummer I have ever worked with; stable, creative, and always reliable. I’m especially looking forward to some of the new material we are working on, as both Slug and Tom are now more involved in the creative process.”
UMan ERA is a band that does not take its attention to equipment lightly. Longo is a self-proclaimed ‘DIY’ enthusiast, who is known to experiment with things like speaker configuration in search of that perfect tone.
Longo said it’s been tough to get the UMan ERA name out there as a startup, “Especially if you’re coming into Scranton or Wilkes-Barre from the outer-lands of Wayne County,” he laughs. He said some bands and individuals that have been supportive thus far in getting the word out.
“I’d have to say the reception has been great for shows that we have done at places like the New Penny, the V Spot, the Otherside, the Factory Underground, Renegades Saloon, Lyrics, and more, to name a few,” he said. “We also owe a debt of gratitude to some of the bands who have invited us to open for them like Fireball, Militia, Skin and Bones, The Russello Project, and Governing Murphy.”
For Longo, the success of UMan ERA will rely on nothing short of doing what they do best – playing live. Longo notes the burgeoning receptiveness to original music in NEPA as key to future prosperity, and continued collaboration between bands, fans and support staff high in importance. This is a band that appears to be chomping at the bit.
“We just love to jam and to be out there ’ in the scene’ as a part of it all,” he said. “And, we like to have a good time doing it. We have some cool shows coming up this spring and we are going to be playing some in New Jersey maybe New York City and Philly too.”
Visit this article on THE WEEKENDER