A Sit-Down with Jacob Galdes of Wop Street Bass Ritual
By Ryan Coleman
“Bew-beoww-dumm-de-dumm-dee-be-bum-bum.” These were the sounds of Jacob Galdes air-playing his imaginary guitar.
He rocked out a thirty second air-guitar show for which I was the only audience member. It was something. Jacob Galdes, 19, is the lead guitarist in the band Wop Street Bass Ritual. It was clear via his faculty for mimed riffage that he had a passion for playing the real instrument too, but that wasn’t always the case.
“Getting started with music was a painful process,” explained Galdes. “As a 5th grader, I didn’t think that playing music was cool, but eventually I got more and more into it. When it comes to inspiration, my first one is Django Reinhardt, who is a jazz guitarist from the late 20s, early 30s who can only play with two fingers but he absolutely shreds.”
Playing guitar since the fifth grade eventually landed him a spot in Bienen. Galdes quickly met so many different musicians and began playing with them almost every single day. And with the Battle of the Bands deadline fast approaching, Wop Street Bass Ritual was born.
“[The band] was thrown together pretty last minute. Maybe four days before the battle of the bands application deadline we were like ‘Okay we’re a band. What’s our name?’ Eventually we agreed on Wop Street Bass Ritual, because we play a lot of Stevie Wonder and Roy Hargrove music. Our bassist, George Estey, thought of the acronym We Only Play Stevie Tunes But Also Sometimes Some Roy Hargrove To Spice It Up A Little, which was WOPSTBASSRHTSIUAL, and we fine tuned it to Wop Street Bass Ritual.”
This creative conglomeration of a band got their registration for Battle of the Bands in and rocked out in the pre-Dillo Day event hosted by Mayfest. The reward of winning Battle of the Bands means a chance to play at Dillo Day, the nation’s largest student run music festival. When the news broke on who won Battle of the Bands, the young guitarist remembered exactly where he was.
“I was eating lunch and started getting texts saying ‘Congrats, bro’ and stuff like that, and I was confused. I didn’t even know we won. Then I checked the Facebook page and saw the results and I was like holy shit. So I texted everyone in the group telling them how we needed to start rehearsing now because it was like a week before Dillo Day.”
The week passed and Wop Street Bass Ritual rocked out on the Dillo Day stage. They performed six songs in total: five covers and an original. I asked Jacob to explain the entire experience in one word. His response? Whirlwind.
“I’m so used to being told to play in a corner of a restaurant and be the background music. But this time we had our name behind us on a big screen. We were the act everyone was listening to on this enormous stage. When we played our original song people seemed to enjoy it.” Galdes’ experience on the Dillo Day stage was not just a one-off, crazy story, but rather slots in with his life goals pretty nicely. “Playing on a festival stage made my dream a possibility. I love music festivals, I love the experience, and Dillo Day made me realize I can do it. I can write music. I can get on those stages.”
Jacob has a unique approach to songwriting: he focuses more on sound, rather than lyrics, motivating emotional responses. This feeds into what makes the band special, as Galdes explained to me.
“Every song we play has improvisation in it. It’s not a regurgitation of something we’ve memorized, it’s about adding something new to the piece. Everytime we play it’s a blank slate, even for something that we have played 100 or 1000 times. When we’re all creating something together, I think the audience can feel it.”
Wop Street Bass Ritual is playing at Evanston Rocks this Friday night. Doors open at 9:30 with Wop going on stage from 11:15-midnight. The event is 18 and up and there is a $5 cover at the door.
But why should you go?
“Everyone I talk to tells me how they wish there was live music when they go out,” explained Galdes. “This is an opportunity for that to happen. It’s just like a bar night, but with more energy and fun, and we want people to get up and dance.”
Wop Street will be performing two new, original songs Friday night. What are they about? That’s for you to find out.
If Jacob’s air-guitar playing was entertaining for me, then it would make sense to me that his real-guitar playing would be too. Maybe, just maybe, even more so.