If nothing else, 2020 has certainly provided many of us with an opportunity refocus our efforts. For most, this has been a period of adaptation, reinvention, and ingenuity. Countless artists have not been able to get on stage this year. Venues across the country have been forced to close their doors. This has left many of us in the arts community struggling to find opportunities, as we’re all dressed up with nowhere to go. Our very own psychedelic-funk powerhouse, The Cosmic Vultures, have made good use of this time. They are a mere days away from releasing their second full length album, Too Many Shapes. We had the chance to sit down with Derek Smith, singer and guitarist for these buzzards of sonic bliss to try and get the inside scoop on what makes them tick!
OHR: How did you guys meet, how did the name The Cosmic Vultures come about?
DS: Steve Constantino and I have been close friends since we were 12 years old (around
September 1999). We met Jonathan Chesbro in late 2016 at Opus Underground in Salem, MA.
Jon was, at that point, in a different band. The three of us have been close friends and
collaborators since. Steve and I came up with The Cosmic Vultures name after throwing some
different names around back in early 2016. I wanted to use the word “Vultures”. I think Steve
threw the word “Cosmic” in there and we just liked how it sounded.
OHR: What is your earliest musical memory?
DS: I remember waking up and going downstairs. My father had The Beatles playing. I think it was The White Album. I knew at that point that I wanted to do that. I didn’t know what exactly…but I just knew I wanted to do whatever was coming from the speaker. It felt like home.
OHR: It seems like nearly all artists experience that feeling of ‘homecoming’. What are your biggest musical influences?
DS: The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix Experience,
The Doors, Grizzly Bear, Frank Zappa, Steely Dan.
OHR: What’s your song writing process generally like?
DS: Typically we write together. Someone will come up with a riff or chord changes…and the rest of
us will fall in and see where it goes. We have an amazing track record of coming up with a new
song every single time we get together.
OHR: What is your favorite gig that you’ve played?
DS: There has been quite a few for me. I would say that it has to be a tie between The Middle East:
Downstairs on February 1st, 2019 and Opus Underground on July 14th, 2018. Playing The
Middle East: Downstairs was amazing. What a great room and a great stage. I’ll never forget it.
We have played Opus about 5-6 times…but this specific date was when we released our first
full length record, Mariana.
OHR: What’s the greatest album of all time, in your opinion?
DS: This is a very difficult question to answer because I believe there is a large collection of great
albums. A+ albums can be hard to come by, however. In my personal opinion: Dark Side of the
Moon by Pink Floyd and Aja by Steely Dan are perfect albums.
OHR: This can be a tough one for artists, but how would you describe your sound?
DS: A blend of funk rock and psychedelic rock. When people ask me what we sound like, I definitely
tell them that we have Red Hot Chili Peppers vibes. High energy funk, psychedelic vibes and
OHR: What’s next for The Cosmic Vultures?
DS: More records. We love writing. There isn’t a valid reason for The Cosmic Vultures to stop doing
what we do. We’d love to start playing COVID-19 safe shows, but we know how difficult that is
right now. Our newest album, Too Many Shapes, will be released on all streaming platforms on
November 14th, 2020.
Well, there you have it, folks! Get ready for Too Many Shapes, coming Nov. 14th!
(Top Photo By Zach Haberern)