WILKES-BARRE — In December, Kingston-based rockers SUZE began a benchmark year by introducing old fans to a new evolution at the band’s annual Christmas show at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains Township.
Next month, SUZE will make lasting memories as the retooled quartet performs a show titled A Decade of SUZE at 8 p.m. May 12 in the Chandelier Lobby of the F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square.
In conjunction with the performance — which will showcase the funk and blues infused rock ‘n’ roll the band has gravitated toward since drummer Jason Stefanski and bassist Brian Gildea joined founding member Adam McKinley and tenured guitarist Adam Gabriel — local filmmakers will document the evening to celebrate the band’s 10th anniversary.
McKinley said the band has stayed busy since reintroducing itself to its hometown crowd in December.
“We’ve been getting back to gigging more regularly,” McKinley said. “We’ve had more venues in our rotation in and out of town.”
The primary songwriter, lead vocalist and rhythm guitar player, who started SUZE in 2007, said the frequency of performances is reminiscent of where the band was between two and two and a half years ago when its previous lineup began to dissolve.
In addition to local gigs, SUZE has booked shows in Bloomsburg and Stroudsburg and is poised for a September performance at the Ritz Theater in Scranton, which will coincide with a pop-up dinner by Peculiar Culinary Company.
As for the anniversary show at the Kirby Center, McKinley said SUZE is firing on all cylinders.
“We’re in a very good place,” McKinley said. “The chemistry is really starting to take shape. I think we’re starting to sound like the new version of SUZE rather than just SUZE overall.”
As SUZE evolved from formation through different lineups, McKinley said the band began to intellectualize its sound, taking on elements of progressive and alternative rock. Its current ensemble has found a way to maintain its rock roots while focusing on funkier, riff-centric melodies.
“Our sound was ambiguous, and now I think we’ve found a sound,” McKinley said. “We’re into making music that makes people dance. We’re really starting to hum a little bit.”
Inherent in finding comfort in its identity, the band has been writing new music and reworking previously shelved titles to fit its present style.
Hitting the studio to record new music is something that could happen as early as the summer, McKinley said.
“Sometimes its not that great to be busy over the summer, because you’re not pulling great crowds unless you’re playing festival slots,” McKinley said alluding to the lull musicians experience when competing with the travel, outdoor activity and event-heavy calender ushered in by warmer seasons.
“The studio will alleviate that time we would spend gigging in the summer.”
The concert film, McKinley said, will be part of the band’s newly adopted aggressive approach at marketing itself and operating on a more professional level than in years past — an approach that began with SUZE’s recently launched website and stronger social media presence.
But for the sole founding member, the documentary will mark a personal milestone.
“I wanted to remember this night forever and be able to look back at it,” McKinley said. “For me, it’s more of a keepsake than anything.”
Slated to be filmed on multiple cameras, the documentary will be shot by West Pittston filmmaker John YonKondy, and post production will be handled by Wyoming filmmaker Jared Sokirka.
“I wanted him to be involved,” McKinley said of YonKondy. “Early on, he did of lot of our graphic design.”
The band’s second performance in the Kirby Center’s Chandelier Lobby strikes a chord of a different kind for McKinley. As it would be for many musicians who grow and learn in the Wyoming Valley, performance in the downtown theater is a sought-after gig.
“I never thought I’d say I could play at the Kirby Center,” McKinley said. “Now, it’s our name. There’s no opener. It’s amazing, because of all the things that have happened with the band, the fact that we can keep going and do a gig like this is an honor.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.comments powered by Disqus