Interview: BREAKAWAY

Visitors to this year’s Rock N’ Roll Weekend in Ellicottville are in for a treat!  The popular Buffalo band, Breakaway, will be “adding to the ambiance of the festival” according to founding member Bruce Decker by phone.  They are scheduled to play Saturday, Sept. 17 at 1pm on the Monroe Street Main Stage, located in front of the Winery of Ellicottville.
 
The five members include Decker (keyboards and vocals); Cory Klawon (lead vocals and rhythm guitar); Johnny Magnum (drums/percussion); Brian Kindzierski (guitar and vocals); and Mike Schill (bass and vocals).
 
Playing songs from over five decades of music, Breakaway was named the Top New Band in both the Buffalo Music Awards and the Nightlife Awards.
 
You name it and more times than not they play it … country, pop, rock, alternative rock, etc. Still, with playing from an extensive list of songs from all genres of music, they do receive requests from the audience, which Decker says they try and accommodate, and about 15% of the time they are able to.
 
Decker and I talked about the many years of experience the band has, who he considers to be the practical joker of the group, why one of the members is called King Smarty Pants, playing the upcoming festival in Ellicottville, and the ever growing music scene in Buffalo.
 
If you get a chance to come out and catch the band in Ellicottville during the Rock ‘N Roll Weekend, Decker has a suggestion for you in the following interview. If you aren’t able to attend the festival, you can find out where they are playing next on their website, www.breakawaybandrocks.com
 
For more information on this year’s Rock N’ Roll weekend, visit www.ellicottvilleny.com.
 
 
A CONVERSATION WITH BRUCE DECKER
 
HULICK: What a beautiful summer we’ve had, which must be great for you guys with all the festivals and outdoor events you play. Coming up soon is the Ellicottville Rock N’ Roll weekend Sept. 16-18. Have you played at that event before?
DECKER: Yes. We’re playing the 1pm show this year. Typically when you do an afternoon slot you get people wandering by … we just kind of add to the ambiance. Some people will sit and listen for awhile, but it’s not like a regular gig where people show up as a crowd to dance and spend the evening, as opposed to people walking around a festival and notice saying, “Hey there’s a band over there.”
 
HULICK: What’s good about you playing at that time is that your song list is quite extensive and you have something for every taste or genre. That lends itself to catching the interest of anyone walking by.
DECKER: That’s right. If you don’t like that particular style or genre we are playing when you are passing by, stick around for a couple minutes and we will be playing something totally different.
 
HULICK: I was looking at your song list and was wondering if you do the song “Walking In Memphis” by Marc Cohn?
DECKER: (laughs) You know … we don’t, but oddly enough someone asked us if we knew it at a wedding we were doing. I’ve probably heard it before, but we never got around to learning it. It doesn’t ring a bell.
 
HULICK: You’ve been doing this … gigging, as you say, for 40+ years and Johnny for 47 years. Have the other members been playing that long?
DECKER: Pretty much. Most of us started playing in our teenage years and have continued to this day.
 
HULICK: Were all of you born and raised in the Buffalo area?
DECKER: No. I’m actually from Syracuse and I came to Buffalo to go to school at UB, met and married a local girl and stayed. But Brian, Mike, Johnny and Cory are all from this general area … you can consider those guys Western New Yorkers.
 
HULICK: I read that Brian is called “King Smarty Pants”. Why would that be?
DECKER: (laughs) Because he’s a smart-aleck. 
 
HULICK: (laughs) Well that explains it.
DECKER: (laughs) He has a smart-ass answer for anything you want to throw at him.
 
HULICK: (laughs) Is he also the “practical joker” of the band or do you have anyone who is?
DECKER: That would be Johnny our drummer.
 
HULICK: Do you get a lot of requests from the crowd?
DECKER: Yes … basically how we run the show is … between all of us, we know a lot of songs and a lot of them aren’t even listed on our song list on our website. If someone comes up with a request we try to accommodate them of course … we want them to have a good time. Long ago I stopped looking at music and wondering who would ever play that trashy song. If it’s a good song to you … an important song to you, than that song matters. We’re basically a “try to have fun band” … we’re not trying to make an artistic statement, other than being as good as you can now. That being said … if you’re in a cover band you got two choices. You can try and emulate the recording as much as possible, or you can be like Zac Brown and kind of do your own version of cover songs. That works too.
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