Crown & Anchor in New York ... sounds good
Bandmates Chris Finsness and Oscar Deuss found one sure-fire way to test whether their music's any good — playing their sounds for hundreds of passer-bys in the bustling subways of New York City.
The musicians — who make up two-thirds of local band Crown & Anchor, along with drummer Will Tucker, recently ventured to the US to take a music production course at Dubspot.
The course gave them the opportunity to soak their feet in the international music scene by playing at clubs and bars near to the Lower East Side of Manhattan. They also bravely took their music underground by busking in the city's subway system.
Lucky for them the reception from commuters was extremely positive.
“We made $80 in an hour and a half, just by having an open saxophone case and letting people throw money in if they liked it,” Mr Finsness, the guitarist and lead singer, said.
“It was mainly for practice because in New York, you are living in close quarters with a lot of people, so if you are practicing day and night you're going to disrupt your neighbours, but it was a good experience as well.
“People would approach us and give us business cards and I even had a producer come up once and listened to some of my songs. He is remixing one right now called 'Plight of Squid', a song I wrote with my buddy Steve Smith.”
Mr Deuss, who plays the saxophone, said his favourite part about busking was setting your own schedule and creating your own atmosphere.
“There is no stage. I have to find a nice little corner and set up,” he said. “Then I start playing music and everyone turns to you and you get so much positivity back.
“It's amazing how you can take this subway, this dirty, grimy place, with nowhere to create music and you create these vibes and positivity.”
Crown & Anchor are known for playing everything from Mozart pieces, to jazz, reggae, rock, folk, country and pop. Their music is described as “a soundtrack for summer vacation”, thanks to an acoustic sound and Island vibes.
The band members, all aged 28, attended Saltus together as youngsters before going on to play for different groups around the Island.
Mr Finsness and Mr Tucker, on the cahon, started their first band called Duty Free at age 13, before going on to play alongside The Kennel Boys in 2003. Mr Deuss played in a band called Secret PoPo.
Crown & Anchor was first formed in 2011, when Mr Finsness was working as the pool supervisor for the Fairmont Southampton. One day his boss learned about a talent event happening at the hotel and encouraged him to play something for the guests.
The Bob Marley tune he performed received such great feedback that the general manager invited him to play at The Cabana four times a week.
Crown & Anchor are currently in the process of creating a self-titled album, which they hope will be released sometime next month or in September.
Mr Finsness and Mr Deuss are producing the album themselves — which has its pros and cons. In addition to providing vocals and instrumentals, they are working on the recording, engineering and editing for the sound.
“We have to be super critical and creative at the same time,” Mr Deuss explained. “Doing it ourselves is a great exercise, but it's tricky and difficult.”
The band's ultimate goal is to take their music far and wide, but they all agree it's not something they want to rush.
Mr Deuss said: “I think we would love to be touring internationally, but it's only one step at a time. For us it's more like 'Let's make the music the best we can, put it out there and see what happens'.
“It's so tough to have a game plan in the music industry, so we are just trying to make the best product we can.
“We are doing music because we love it, not because we are making money, so we would rather do something we can be proud of.”
Mr Finsness echoed the sentiment and said they didn't want to put pressure on themselves to sell scores of records or become some kind of household name.
”What it comes down to is it's the product that matters,” he said. “So whether it sells zero copies or 100,000 copies, it just matters on how we feel about the product at the end of the day.”
They are proud to say it's an entirely home-grown product, but believe their sound to be different from anything else produced in Bermuda.
“It's a little different, a little bit of reggae and hip hop in there, but pretty much acoustic and alternative,” Mr Finsness added.
You can also hear some of Crown & Anchor's music by visiting www.soundcloud.com/finnybda.
You can catch Crown & Anchor — a multi-genre acoustic band from Bermuda — performing live at the Fairmont Southampton five days a week.
They will be at Cabana's Happy Hour on Thursdays from 3-6pm and Cabana's Sunset Barbecue every Sunday from 6.30pm- 10pm; Ocean Club Terrace Bar on Mondays and Fridays from 3-6pm; and The Dock at The Waterlot Inn on Saturdays from 5-10pm.