Stream of Consciousness Interrupted: Geo Trio and its Streaming Singles

In a world where algorithms and short attention spans impact our ability to listen to a full-length album, the band Geo Trio — led by George Leonard III on guitar, with Alex Chapman on drums and Garrett Campbell on bass — has figured out a way to outsmart technology and make us listen. They are releasing a series of unexpected singles monthly, from now until fall. This is the first time in this local band’s history that they’ve released what they describe as “transformative covers.” Though the band plays mostly original compositions, it also covers songs, both known and obscure, keeping the avid music lover on their toes. Having just seen them play at their monthly Nick-a-Nee’s residency, I can attest that their unique chord progressions and ever-changing time signatures will probably make you put your phone down. Read on for a preview of how these new releases came about, one of which is a David Hasselhoff song that you never knew you needed — it’s so good!


Mayté Antelo-Ovando (Motif): You mentioned that Geo Trio has been around for a long time, but with different people.

George Leonard III: Geo Trio technically started in 2010 and then took a long hiatus until 2017. It’s a band I started so I could play original compositions that live somewhere in-between funk, country, and prog rock, with a jazz overtone… When someone is listening, they might say, “Oh this is country or oh wait, this is ripping off Zappa.” For about a year and a half, the band has been Alex on drums, who is a “first-call-kind-of-drummer” for a lot of the cover and jazz bands. We have known each other for about 20 years — he is an extraordinary jazz drummer and creative improviser. Also in the band is Garret on the bass; he is a solid bass player who is also a middle school jazz band teacher, is in the musical theater scene, and is the interesting dresser in the band!



MAO: I can’t wait to see that! So why cover songs?

GL: For the most part, we try to cover songs and make them sound nothing like the original, and hopefully one in ten people who like the original song will be able to recognize it. Last year, we decided to create transformative covers starting with Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time.” We started it out as a jazz waltz, then it went into a funk song, and we ended it [with] metal. The melody is retained but there are jazz re-harmonizations as well. One of my big influences as far as composition — because of its great harmonies and chords, is Steely Dan. For these covers, Alex and Garrett helped a lot with the arrangements. Although I generate the ideas for stuff we do, they go through a pretty surgical realignment at band practice — usually led by those two. The fun thing about these new singles is that they’re all over the map. “Oops” (to be released June 28), is just a straight up instrumental punk rock tune, which you never really hear. “Rooster” is jazz fusion funk (released in May), and the theme from Mike Tyson’s [1987 video game] Punch-Out! (streaming in July) is shred metal. The last song (although there may be more!) to be released sometime in August/ September will be a cover of David Hasselhoff’s “True Survivor” from the movie Kung Fury (a song the Nick-a-Nee’s audience really responded to and recognized).

MAO: Why stream singles and not an EP or album?

GL: We’re trying to redefine the landscape of how music is released, and I’m trying to get out of the ’90s in my head (in terms of how music is recorded). A lot of people aren’t listening to full albums anymore. I’ll say to my students, “What album is that song on?” And they’ll say, “Oh I don’t know, I don’t even know the name of the song. I just really like this band.” An album of covers doesn’t make sense to me, singles do.

MAO: And why instrumental music? No one sings?

GL: Nobody sings… it’s instrumental, always been this way. We started the band with jazz and fusion musicians, and the music [has always been] very guitar driven. You might hear the influence of Wayne Krantz, Danny Gatton (a guitar virtuoso), and even Medeski Martin & Wood (a jazz fusion band). I like guitar, bass and drum solos, you know? A singer kind of gets in the way of that.

MAO: Oh, I see! I’ll try not to get offended as a singer, haha!

Geo Trio is outsmarting the algorithm by delivering unpredictable sounds — like they do in these new singles — which were recorded at the Rocktorium Records by Ray Gennari. Find the trio on Spotify and Instagram (@geotrioband) or go see them live at their monthly Nick-a-Nee’s gig, which is the second Sunday of the month from 4 – 7pm. When I was there a sweet fan came up to them and said, “The music is wonderful.” I agree