By: Zachary Kolesar, In The Record Store staff writer.
This past week I spent time in between college classes and work playing phone tag with Huntertones’ member Jon Lampley (trumpet, sousaphone). However, one cannot fault Lampley, as he may be one of the most involved and active musicians I have ever heard of.
Don’t believe me? Considered that solid six-piece jazz outfit Huntertones — born and bred within the classroom walls of Ohio State University — were out in California for 10 days prior, here’s what the past week looked like for a musician who plays in the Huntertones, now in New York, backs up The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and is a touring member for O.A.R.
Sunday: Lampley headed to a recording studio in New Jersey at 11 a.m. for a 10-hour recording session with Huntertones, which produced six songs for the band’s forthcoming sixth album. He made it back to Brooklyn around 2 a.m. the next day.
Monday: Most days The Late Show does not tape live, so Lampley met with the house band for the show prior to recording at 3 p.m.
“Playing on TV for a TV show is a way different environment than playing a concert in front of people who are there to see specifically the band that's playing,” Lampley says. From 5 until 6:30 p.m., the band recorded for the show, and Lampley returned home around 7:15 p.m.
Tuesday: This is the (unplanned) day that Lampley and I talk over the phone, when he is meeting for a live taping of the show.
“Every once in a while, if there's a big event, usually politically, we'll tape the show live so that they can write jokes based on the event that has happened that day,” Lampley says.
The event is President Trump’s address to Congress. It is nearing 9 p.m. when we begin talking inside of a tight time frame that Lampley has in between warming up with the band and recording live at 11:30 p.m.
Wednesday: Lampley had a regular non-live taping and met with the house band just as he did at 3 p.m. on Monday. “Getting to play with those guys night in and night out, playing music that spans so many different genres, it's really, really fun,” Lampley says.
Thursday-Saturday: After traveling to the West Coast a week prior, Lampley headed out east with the Huntertones for shows in Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine, “Every week is different whether it be a full week at the show or a week of touring or a little bit of both,” Lampley says.
Although it was not mentioned in the above weekly rundown, Lampley will be spending two months straight on the road with O.A.R. starting in mid-May.
“Every week is a new adventure I guess you could say,” Lampley said.
The steps to get to the grind that Lampley is currently amid all started while at the School of Music at OSU. Six of the earliest members from the formative 2010-12 Huntertones years — Lampley, Dan White (saxophones), Chris Ott (trombone/beatbox), Adam DeAscentis (bass), John Hubbell (drums) and Josh Hill (guitar) — exhausted local venues and basement shows.
Now five of those six claim residencies in New York City. The move had nothing to do with Columbus’ music scene and everything to do with further exposing a sound Lampley describes as “jazz but it's hip-hop but it's R&B but it's got a little bit of the New Orleans vibe to it.”
“We all kind of just gravitated toward each other,” Lampley said. “It wasn't that we necessarily had the same musical or cultural backgrounds, it was just we all kind of had this idea of wanting to make high quality music and wanting to be around other people that were wanting to make that music and put that music out into the world.”
Things have progressed steadily for Huntertones since moving to NYC, as best expressed by an anecdote Lampley gave about the band being crammed in a Honda Civic while traveling three years ago but now being able to fly to California and afford a van to rent out west.
Three years is also almost the exact amount of time since most of Huntertones moved to New York, and Lampley is noticing an increased presence at shows thanks to word of mouth and viral promotion.
“We're not necessarily going to having a hit song per se, that all of the sudden millions of people are going to know about our song out of nowhere, but for us it's kind of been this slow grind of building a following… and we're starting to finally see all of that work we've been putting in really since college start to take off,” Lampley said.