by Sarah A. Peterson-Camacho
Community is the name of the game for Merced’s Avenue 28, which is a relatively new band who came together in January of 2016—made up of vocalist/bassist/pianist Jay Wheeler, drummer Eric Beltran, and guitarist Nathan Ramirez. From the name of their band to the title of their debut EP, Neighborhood, this trio relishes the connection between music and audience.
Kings River Life caught up with Avenue 28 ahead of tonight’s concert at Fresno’s Full Circle Brewing Co.
KRL: What is the meaning behind the band’s name?
Eric Beltran: The band’s name is derivative of an address; we found home with our music in Jay’s garage. We wanted our name to be a destination for our fans and supporters. Avenue 28 is meant to ring a sense of community. Taking care of one another and making sure that we are all okay and that it is okay to not feel okay, that you’re never alone. You have a community that understands how you feel, and you have a support system that will be there for you.
KRL: What genre of music does Avenue 28 play?
Jay Wheeler: It’s very difficult to pin point exactly what genre we play because we tend to play whatever we feel.
Eric: No two of our songs really sound all that similar, but if we were to generalize all the music, the appropriate would be alternative rock.
KRL: Who are the band’s biggest musical influences?
Jay: Silverstein, Twenty One Pilots, Deftones, Paramore, and many more.
KRL: Whose music did you all listen to while growing up?
Eric: Growing up I listened to a lot of rock, but as I got into high school, I started exploring more and grew more towards jazz and orchestral/film score types.
Nathan Ramirez: I grew up with a wide array of musical attractions, including Led Zeppelin, Journey, Guns ‘N Roses, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, Biggie Smalls, Outkast, and truly so much more.
KRL: Did you always want to be musicians?
Jay: Definitely not. I was always drawn to the unknown. That being said, I wanted to be an astronaut or astronomer; the stars and space caught my attention.
Eric: No, when I was younger I loved building things, and I had a bunch of Legos, so naturally I wanted to be a Lego designer.
Nathan: Being a musician was never on my list of career choices. I’ve always like helping people—being a nurse or going the ultimate distance and being a soldier were my first picks.
KRL: What is Avenue 28’s song-writing process?
Jay: It varies, but the common one is jamming, and if we all mutually like the direction that the music is going, we make it a song.
KRL: Where have you played locally?
Jay: Gottschalk Music Center and Hangar BBQ in Merced, The Twisted Pig in Modesto.
KRL: How long did it take to produce your EP? What are its themes?
Jay: Collectively, the EP took us a couple of months to fully grasp the concept. We wanted to embody who we are as people and our every-day struggles, and reach out to those who face similar struggles. Once we were able to communicate that, putting the EP together was a walk in the park.
KRL: What is the best part about making and performing music?
Eric: When you get a cool idea and have it continually grow into something bigger and better, then are able to share it with other people and get a positive response from them…it’s just an amazing feeling. It’s like, hey, this idea came from my head, we all worked on it, and it makes people feel good; it’s a rewarding feeling.
Nathan: The best part of making music is seeing so many ideas we have, that have no structure, fall together into something wholesome and fun to play for us. Three minds with three different thought processes flowing in connection with one another is affinity at its finest. The best part of performing is seeing people enjoy what we put forth; the bobbing heads, swaying bodies and happy faces when the sounds hit them. I put everything I have inside of me into my guitar and seeing people enjoy what they hear is the ultimate satisfaction gained.
Jay: Man, it’s hard to say what the best thing about creating music is exactly. There are so many things to appreciate and love about music itself. My absolute favorite thing about creating music is my bandmates’ reaction when we make a song that just hits home for us…also the excitement on everyone’s faces when we just know our friends are going to enjoy the song as much as we did when writing it. As for performing, the best feeling is connecting with the crowd. Getting them involved in what we’re doing is such a satisfying feeling because I know that they’re enjoying themselves as much as we are.
Check out more local band & musician profiles in KRL’s music section.