Stay positive

Grow keep it real on livin lovin learnin
By CHRIS CONTI  |  January 6, 2009


Chatting with Grow songwriter Matt Odabashian and resident rapper Sneaktechniks about their livin lovin learnin debut and upcoming CD release party, it was clear that the band has taken an admirable and ballsy approach to their music — expressing a positive aura without overtly preaching like an afterschool special.

"When you listen to the lyrics, it isn't always a positive, happy-go-lucky vibe," Providence native and Grow's resident wordsmith Mankato Saloio, aka Sneaktechniks, said. "Grow is a testament to real-life experiences.

"Songs like 'The Rain' and 'Take from the Innocent' are perfect examples. They express feelings of pain and betrayal. However, our main message is to keep fighting and stay positive."

It sounds like a unique stance, particularly for an emcee who has shared the stage with the likes of Method Man and Jedi Mind Tricks. But Sneak takes the "keeping it real" mantra to a literal level: "My whole objective is bettering myself and my life through music. That is the very essence of what I'm doing with Grow."

Combining Saloio's wordplay with the blue-eyed soul of twin brothers Mike (drums) and Matt Odabashian (keys and lead vocals) is a novel approach; add in a serious dose of saxophone (Ian Katz) throughout the full-length debut and the Grow sound could be deemed as "mash-up for grown-ups."

"One day I was hanging at Matty's apartment on Wickenden Street and he asked me to freestyle over some grooves he was playing on his Fender Rhodes," Sneak recalled. "There seemed to be something that just clicked, so we talked about the idea of combining our styles together in the form of a live band.

"Our whole approach was to not be so easily identified by one genre, and being different was a key ingredient in our formula," Sneak said. After two years of personnel juggling, the six-man lineup is solidified and the Grow sound is, well, still growing. "It took a while to develop our sound and I don't feel we've fully manifested it in its entirety yet."

Matt Odabashian noted that "the rap and soul thing connected right out of the gate," and sees nothing wrong or far-fetched with delivering a message of hope. "I don't think it's a hard sell to a person who lost a son in the war or someone sick of cops fucking with their civil rights, or even having a girl dump them. All these songs you could say are in real time in my life and its something we, as a band, believe in."

From post-breakup heartache on the Hall & Oates-flavored "She Walks Right Through that Door" to the daily trials of "Everything," "Low Down," and "Keep Fighting," livin lovin learnin provides an audio exercise in keeping one's head up, which sounds fine and dandy, but how about selling that to a promoter or potential A&R record label dude?

"First off, we may have an edge with promoters because we've shared the stage with a lot of different acts and I think we can match up with all of them," Odabashian declared.

Said Saloio: "Just call it high-energy, motivational music from a group of talented performers boasting a positive message with a signature sound, something everyone can enjoy regardless of musical preference."

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