Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Saginaw News Article on THE PROCESS 25th Anniversary Show

Vassar's The Process band celebrates 25 years with 'a class reunion of sorts'.


Members of the band The Process, from left, Bill Heffelfinger, David Asher, Garrick Owen and Gabe Gonzalez. (Sue White | MLive File Photo)
For MLive.com By Sue White 

BAY CITY, MI – David Asher is feeling very blessed and that translates into a real holiday blessing for fans of The Process, the reggae/punk/funk/rock band he and a group of friends brought out of Vassar 25 years ago.
"David's parents would go to Florida every winter and we'd rehearse in their family room," remembered Arek Aneszko, the former drummer returning from Chicago to perform with his former bandmates at what he calls "a class reunion of sorts" Saturday, Dec. 26, at Bemo's Bar, 701 Madison, in Bay City.
"It was a style unknown and unpredictable at the time. We'd play in a place and people would ask, 'Who are these guys?' We weren't grunge, we weren't hard rock but we didn't just play Bob Marley, either. It would always leave someone in the audience intrigued and that was the fun part for me. Who would have expected it?"
For Seth Payton, among the latest round of musicians to join the group, in the studio recording a new album due for a spring release and onstage, "it's always been about the infectious groove. My band Stamp'd played with them at the old Captain's Cove in Saginaw once and David and it kicked off a great friendship with David.
"I was still doing my own thing but I'd jam with them sometimes, doing what I love. As I started playing with them more, I just brought a little of my own influence into it, a different outlook, sort of like when the new intern shakes up the office. It's really exciting; it's fun to be involved."
Asher promises to bring it all together Saturday, calling on all past and present members to step back in the groove. The night begins at 9 p.m. with Operation 13, with The Process taking the stage at 10:30 p.m. Closing the night are Ben McArthur and E.V. Duhzit and the Soul Jar.
"We're a changing group, working in all the members and maybe a few others who want to sit in," Asher said. In addition to the current line-up, which also features founding guitarist Garrick Owen and percussionist Gabe Gonzalez, who also performs with George Clinton's P-Funk Allstars, watch for the return of former bassist Bill Heffelfinger, who now teaches at a charter grade school in Las Vegas, and Sam Metropoulos.
"The funny thing, in the beginning, I listened to a lot of records from the British label that I've now recorded with in London, with Adrian Sherwood, Skip McDonald and Ghetto Priest. I'd listen to the music and I had this very naïve thought, 'This is something I could do.'"
While Asher admits he probably should have been too scared to try it, the final result was the release of "Mystery Babylon" in 1991, soon to come out again with other early albums on remastered CDs, and the start of a stage show that included a giant pig's head.
"They're still my inspiration," he said of Sherwood's stable, and it wasn't long before the eclectic cover band moved into writing original music.
"We've been working on this new album for four and a half years and it's really been exciting to watch it develop. Dick Wagner is on there; we recorded with him two weeks before he passed away. There's a real collaborative nature to the whole project. I'm really, really happy with the songwriting effort."
Aneszko is really excited.
"David sent me some music to refresh my memory and I still play enough here in Chicago to be tight," he said, remembering the benefit he did for the late journalist James Foley, who was executed by terrorist forces in 2014.
"But I haven't really played with the band much since the late 1990s. It's funny where life takes you; now my son is getting into music, studying piano and getting his first drum set. The thing about music is that it's in my roots; it's in my genes. I can slip right in."
Payton, who is back onstage after battling brain cancer, sees the show and coming album as "a good catapult into new life," he said. "It's all new material and it's very exciting. For me, it's about what I'm going to leave my daughter and future generations as my legacy. This music will live long beyond me and I want to make sure it's timeless. We've got the talent; we need to move forward."
One thing that hasn't changed through the years, Asher said, is that most of the songs still have a moral compass, embracing the visceral fight between right and wrong.
"It's our strength and inspiration," he said. "It's been a real journey and here's the next 25 years. We're doing our best right now."


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