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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Chet Vincent & The Music Industry

Chet Vincent has been a staple of the Pittsburgh music scene for the past 15 years, fronting bands like The Big Bend and Birdwatcher. His latest project combines members of those groups, along with other Pittsburgh music industry vets. Chet recently spoke with WYEP’s Joey Spehar about apes with no hair, psychedelic space dramas, and more!

The Music Industry are:

Rob Collier – Bass
Read Connolly – Pedal Steel
Daniel Dickison – Guitar
Dave Hidek – Drums, Percussion, Electric Piano
Rich Kawood – Drums
Marc Martinka – Drums
Jesse Prentiss – Bass, Vocals
Guy Russo – Vocals
Skip Sanders – Organ, Piano
Madison Stubblefield – Bass, Keys, Guitar
Chet Vincent – Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
Nathan Zoob – Guitar, Vocals

This conversation may be lightly edited for content, clarity, or length.

Mindi Mills

What’s your musical history up to this point?

My music journey began in 2008 with the rock band “The Big Bend.” This band was my primary project up until the summer of 2020 when the double punch of pandemic lockdowns and guitarist Daniel Dickison moving to California meant an indefinite hiatus for the group. My side project, “Birdwatcher” — which is a folk-rock inspired group — also wrapped up during the pandemic, in part due to another guitarist leaving town for California, Nathan Zoob.

“The Music Industry” is a studio band born out of the end of both those groups. “The Big Bend” intended to record one final album before Daniel moved, and I also had four or five songs written for a potential “Biirdwatcher” follow-up record. Since there were no live shows, I started spending more time in the studio with producer Dave Hidek digging through all this unrecorded material. The studio turned out to be an ideal pandemic escape, since we could all isolate in separate rooms while working.

“The Music Industry” name came from the album being performed by a mash-up of “The Big Bend” and “Biirdwatcher” members, as well as musicians I’ve met and collaborated with from other corners of the Pittsburgh music industry — other projects I’ve been involved in such as the “Randy Baumann Ramble,” Jon Bindley’s “Honky-Tonk Jukebox,” my wife Molly Alphabet and her band, and so on. I am very lucky to have made so many friends across the Pittsburgh music world. I think and hope Young Leaves reflects this unique cross section of genres in our city. Pittsburgh is a special place!

How do you describe your sound?

My music is almost always inspired by 60s and 70s rock, folk, and psych.

"Young Leaves" is an evocative name for an album. How did it come to be?

"Young Leaves" refers to the fact that trees are really amazing organisms. As they get older, their trunks and branches get sturdier and their roots grow deeper — but they also get this amazing opportunity to reinvent themselves every spring when they grow their new leaves.

Tell us more about the song “Guerrilla Love.” What inspired you to write it?

“Guerrilla Love” is a song about radical love. I think most people have the realization at some point in their lives that there isn’t really that much different between us as individuals. At our core we are all just weird hairless apes launched unwittingly into consciousness, looking to slightly older hairless apes for answers about ‘what it all means’ — but those older apes don’t really have the answers.

What we have in common is empathy for our shared situation and fundamental lack of understanding. For me this is a powerful realization, but I find it’s hard to keep it top of mind though the grind of day to day living. “Guerrilla Love” is, for me anyway, about the mental battle of keeping an open mind about the world and empathy for other humans sharing this experience. Also, I think it’s funny that Guerrilla Love sounds like Gorilla Love.

What was the first album that really changed your life? 

I can’t pinpoint any single album, but bands and artists like The Beatles, The Kinks, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Petty have all been very important to me.

Which Pittsburgh artist(s) do you wish more people knew about?

Andre Costello, Dan Getkin, Sweat, Danny Rectenwald, Mirabelle Skipworth, Mark Dignam, The Commonheart, Century III, The Redlines, Meeting of Important People, Molly Alphabet, Ol’ Whitetail, Jon Bindley… the list goes on and on. There’s just so much great music in this town, pick a show and go and you’ll probably love the music!

Any other super interesting things we should know about you?

I co-wrote a movie with my long time friend and director Jason Georgiades called “Beneath the Green” that just came out. It’s a psychedelic space drama about astronauts stuck on a planet. Check it out!

Check out previous Pittsburgh Artists of the Week here.

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.