Employing guitar, bass, drums, keys, vocals, and computers, Former Champions alternate between structured song and extended improvisation. The resulting offering is a dancey, trancey, trip-friendly atmosphere for folks looking to get high (with or without controlled substances). They make use of available technologies and human energies in order to explore new musical frontiers and get a nice groove going. Their self applied genre is "electronic rock," but they may fairly be described as a 21st century jam band.
One notable quality of this Richmond-based outfit is that they've got good songs and singers, which is showcased nicely on their recent release, Special FX Machine. Guitarist Matt Walton, keyboardist Ben White, and bassist David Ashby deliver very sweet harmonies within well written, catchy tunes. And driving the melodic beauty is the precise, energetic drumming of Geoff Bakel, who sits at a very modern beat station which features an old-school, acoustic trap set supplemented by an analog synthesizer and sampler which tie into White's computerized rig.
One challenge for the band, says Bakel, is making use of the gadgets while remaining human musicians: "Technology gives us all these tools. You want to use them, but there is that fine line between going too far and losing the organic-ness that I think creates a lot of magic for a live band. We strive to make a hybrid of it all."More »