"Consider this," says Nicolas Gingras, organ and synthesizer player for local "power reggae" artists Wolfman Conspiracy. "You're playing your music for hundreds of people, on the most exciting night of the year, at one of the best venues in the area, supporting your favorite once-local band."
For Gingras and company, that dream became a reality on New Year's Eve in Northampton.
Opening for former Valley regulars Rubblebucket and Bella's Bartok, Gingras, along with the other members of Wolfman Conspiracy, had the opportunity to play a groove-filled set to a packed house at the Pearl Street Nightclub. When they finished, they quickly left the stage to join the rest of the crowd in helping ring in 2012.
Still, with a brand new 12 months ready to be filled with more shows and merrymaking, the band isn't ready to step back and bask in such a recent success just yet.
"We are currently recording our second album at Zing Recording Studio in Westfield, Mass. with our producer Eric Arena," says Gingras. "Zing, along with Eric, is most known for recording world-class heavy metal bands such as Killswitch Engage, Underoath and The Devil Wears Prada. With any luck we'll have tracks ready to share in the spring with a full CD release to follow. In the meantime, we have our first EP, AntiVamp, which was completed in June of 2011 and which we are all very proud of."
With upcoming gigs in the Paradise City, Boston, and on both Stowe and Crotched Mountains, the Conspiracy's winter plans are no less busy, and they also come as a direct result of the "more professional and serious agenda" the group has implemented since reforming after a prolonged absence.
First coming together as a "casual college pastime" in 2008, original members of the Wolfman Conspiracy Dominic Mazzoli (guitar, lead vocals), Kyle Mooney (bass) and Gingras joined forces again post-graduation in the spring of 2010, soon adding second guitarist Alex Drenga and a full three-piece brass section consisting of Kathryn Rapacki (trombone), Ryan Emken (saxophone) and Taryn Smith (trumpet).
Gingras says, "All original material was either thrown out or rearranged—it was a pretty substantial process. Rhythms were simplified and shifted down into the pocket with vocal and brass arrangements taking precedence, carrying the main melodies."
What soon emerged was a horn-filled, up-tempo take on '90s ska with a strong rhythmic foundation and influences rooted in classic rock. Much like fellow Western Mass. acts Danny Pease and the Regulators, the Fear Nuttin' Band and Kids on a Hill, the Conspiracy has proven adept at putting a new spin on classic material.
"The overall effect is very interesting for us. It's engaging and is really a blast to play," says Gingras.
He continues, "We immediately knew that the changes made were for the better. The music that came out of practice put a sparkle in our eyes."
As for the story behind his group's unique moniker, the organist isn't nearly as forthcoming. "This is a question we are asked quite often and, unfortunately, are not at liberty to answer," he says.
Wolfman Conspiracy performs Feb. 3, 9 p.m., Bishop's Lounge, 41 Strong Ave., Northampton, (413) 586-8900. For more info, visit www.wolfmanconspiracy.com.