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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Bands we play: The Defending Champions

We've had several tracks from The Defending Champions' 2013 album "Breakfast of the Defending Champions" in our rotation for a few years now, and just last week got a chance to see them live. We were not disappointed. This seven-piece band puts on a tight, high-energy show, playing jazz- and ska-infused rock.
The Defending Champions (in poor-quality cellphone pic)
They've been playing together since 2007. And in fact, lead singer/trombonist Matt Ryan, guitarist Dean Nevolis and saxophonist Matthew Schoenebaum have been in bands together since their teens. They're joined by drummer Shawn Fichtner, bassist Eric Swiontkowski, trumpeter Jovan Alvarez and percussionist Dave DeRiso in the current lineup of The Defending Champions. (A slightly different lineup recorded the band's debut album in 2010. We're playing a couple of tracks from that one, too.)

The band is currently working on its third album. They previewed a couple of the new songs at the show we caught. We will definitely need that album!

By the way, the show was at a new venue in their home town of Montclair, N.J. -- an auditorium in a 1910-vintage building that's been revitalized by a local group as a performance space called The Old Mogul Theatre.

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