Since its establishment in 2004, Gravity A has been a staple in the city’s vibrant music scene, captivating audiences with its dynamic energy and innovative sounds.
A transformative period marked by the infusion of new members led to the creation of their 2013 studio album, “New Beginnings,” a release that catapulted the quartet into an era of extensive touring across the United States. The years 2013 and 2014 saw the band gracing renowned venues such as Cervantes in Denver, Boom Boom Room in San Francisco, and Nectar’s in Vermont, solidifying their presence on the national stage.
After a four-year hiatus from live performances, Gravity A will triumphantly return to the stage with a late-night reunion show on Saturday, December 2, at Toulouse Theater. This eagerly awaited event promises to be a spectacular showcase of the band’s evolution, drawing on their eclectic influences and pushing the boundaries of their unique sonic identity.
In an exclusive interview with Gravity A’s Michael Fouquier, we delve into the band’s journey over the years, exploring the impact of their New Orleans roots, the transformative period leading to “New Beginnings,” and what fans can anticipate from their upcoming performance. As torchbearers for New Orleans’ late-night musical ambiance, Gravity A’s commitment to live instrumentation and improvisation ensures that the night will unfold as a spirited and adventurous musical journey, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of their audience.
River Beats Interview with Michael Fouquier
River Beats: It’s been four years since your last live show. What inspired the decision to come back together for this reunion performance?
Michael Fouquier: Sometimes, it takes the right person or situation. In this case, Reeves Price of Winter Circle Productions contacted me and specifically requested a reunion for the weekend of the Pretty Lights shows. While this is our first public appearance in four years, we reunited on stage at an underground Mardi Gras Ball in March of 2023. We are all still very involved in music, though some more than others are involved in live music specifically.
RB: How has the band evolved musically and personally during this four-year hiatus, and how will that evolution be reflected in your upcoming show?
MF: I think that we are all at the top of our games as musicians right now. Both mentally and physically. Personally, I am very happy with where I am at both in my playing as well as my career overall. After we shelved this project, I was in a weird place. Boom, that’s when the pandemic hit. While many musicians did live streams and got creative, I used it as an opportunity to pause, strengthen the bonds with my family, and look after my children. I went months without touching my instrument or looking at it. And when I came back, I hadn’t lost a thing.
I approached drumming with more mental clarity. Fresh ideas were flowing. My mind was at peace after months of rest. Then, at the start of 2023, I made a promise to myself to say yes to just about any gig that came my way. Before that, I had been picky and choosy about what I took. The result has been a phenomenal year. Playing with various groups in many different situations gained me more versatility than I had learned by playing almost strictly with Gravity A for 15+ years. I can’t speak too much about the rest of the band’s experience over the last four years, but I can say that time yields knowledge and maturity. We are all four years better—four years of honing our craft and instruments. I also think the excitement of returning to this home within our music catalog with a fresh mind and set of ears will automatically breathe new life into songs we’ve played for so long.
For this show, fans can expect the same sound—the same songs, but with new life breathing from them.
RB: Gravity A’s sound is known for its fusion of New Orleans funk and electronic elements. Can you give us a glimpse into what fans can expect from this show regarding your musical influences and style?
MF: Our music is a lot of fun. Things are happening live. We have to stay hyper-focused on what we are doing. Our fans know what to expect, and I know they are just as excited as we are to be back with each other in that space that we create.
For those unfamiliar, however, I would ask to picture a blend of, say, a Galactic/ Medeski Martin Wood funk group meets a Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) / LOTUS/Disco Biscuits kind of vibe. But it is far more original than that description sounds… it’s just a good time. I found my place in my musical goals after attending two major events in my life. One of those events would be my first State Palace rave produced by the one and only Disco Donnie. The second event that changed my life was when I moved to Lake Tahoe in Northern California. My buddies and I piled into a pickup truck and drove up to the High Sierra Music Festival on a whim for the night without any tickets. We hopped a fence, climbing on top of an old VW bug parked right next to the fence. Long story short, I found myself at STS9’s legendary 2003 late-night barn performance. Witnessing a live band with a drummer create the sounds and vibe I had seen at the state palace was life-changing. I always say that was the beginning of Gravity A, or the idea, at least.
RB: The band has toured extensively in the past, playing in various cities across the US. What excites you the most about returning to the stage and performing live for your fans?
MF: Just the chance to play these songs again–creating this blend of music we made our own was our life’s work for over 15 years. It was my dream. I’m very proud of it and can’t wait to create that sound again for a live audience. A family that we are very close and connected to.
RB: Could you provide some insights into the journey you’ve taken as a band over the years, from your early days to now? What have been the key moments that have shaped Gravity A into what it is today?
MF: After High Sierra 2003. The next step would have been moving home, back to New Orleans. The initial band formed was Jon Solomon on bass and a guitarist named Carter. This was only the lineup for a few months. The next member of Gravity A was Aaron Lind. He played guitar, though initially, he was a keyboard player in the band. We had no idea that he played guitar. He had been playing gigs on the keyboards with us for several months, playing places on Frenchmen Street like the Blue Nile or the hi ho lounge.
Hurricane Katrina hit in the summer of 2005, and we all evacuated. When we all returned in November, following Katrina, he told us he wanted to play guitar in the band. Around this time, our current keyboarder, Andrew Meehan, let it be known through some friends that he was interested in playing keyboards in our band; he was a perfect fit. I always consider him an original member, as these first few configurations were figuring things out.
After some years with this configuration and recording an album at Piety Street Studios entitled “Naissance,” Aaron Lind decided to move on from music and pursue a career as a yoga instructor. This was when we enlisted Danny Abel as our guitarist, and he has been there ever since. Danny was also the perfect fit for this band. Not long after that, John Solomon (of the local Afro band Kumasi) left Gravity A and was replaced by bassist Bru Bruser of the local Afro band Government Magic. This was the configuration for some years, and eventually, we parted ways with Bru and hired Devin Karagan to finally complete the perfect lineup and sound that Gravity A has been looking for all these years.
In 2013, we recorded our next studio album, “New Beginnings.” We were really proud of the studio effort, and it was a great representation of the sound we sought. We toured all corners of the country, from New York to Colorado to northern and southern California. We made a real effort to keep this band together, working and playing as many shows as possible in a city like New Orleans; however, it takes a lot of work to keep band members engaged in just one band. Financially, musicians have to gig with several different bands and groups, which made it hard to write music, plan tours, and work together to make all of these goals happen. After some years of the band falling into some bad habits of complacency, we found ourselves not necessarily breaking up but putting the project on the shelf so that everyone could pursue what they felt was the next step in their careers.
That should answer or at least give you a rundown of the timeline of the different lineups we’ve had, but it leaves out many of the highs and, you know, some of the lows. But let’s throw out some of the highlights, like performing at camp BISCO in New York, at Wakarusa in Arkansas, or even opening up for artists such as Pretty Lights before he was too big to play clubs like the Blue Nile. We got to open up for some of our favorite bands, and we got to share the stage and have Jess sit-ins with some of our favorite musicians. We felt like we were in a very special moment playing every Wednesday night at the Blue Nile for several years; we felt like we were on top of the world. We were having the time of our lives, and I don’t even think we realized it at the time, but looking back on all of those times now as I answer the interview question, it leaves me with a sense of accomplishment.
RB: New Orleans is known for its rich musical tapestry. How has the city influenced your music, and how does it shape the band’s identity and sound?
MF: The influences are everywhere. From the State Palace in the early 2000s to Galactic Tipitinas sunrise sets on Lundi Gras to a jazz set at Snug Harbor. And then there’s jazz fest and the influx of musicians from all over the nation/ world. Some of the best bands come through for the fest. There is plenty of live music to pull from. The culture itself is inspiring–the colors and the flavors–the laissez-faire attitudes.
RB: Finally, what message would you like to send your dedicated fans eagerly awaiting your return to the stage? Is there anything you’d like to say to express your gratitude and excitement for the upcoming show?
MF: Just thanks. For showing up, for continued support, and for letting it be known that there was a demand for our music in its absence. We are here for it. Let’s make this night unforgettable.
Gravity A will triumphantly return to the stage with a late-night reunion show on Saturday, December 2, at Toulouse Theater.
featured image by Rick Moore