Fly Phoenix is a five piece band made up of Brandon Rizzo (vocals), Nicholas Jacob Lacy (guitar), T. Berry IV (bass), Bryant Polk (keys/piano) and Ben Cofresi (drums). Together they blend elements of funk, jazz, rock and hip-hop into a steady, heart-pounding groove, worthy of any soul enthusiast’s attention. In one instant Fly Phoenix conjures up feelings of old school funk and in others they break through with a remarkably fresh and forward thinking contemporary vibe. The risk of being an all encompassing band is that the music can become convoluted in trying to pay homage to too many styles, but for Fly Phoenix it couldn’t be further from the truth as their signature sound always manages to resonate. Recently they’ve been busy performing at some of Chicago’s finest venues, and they seem to be carving themselves out quite a niche. Centerstage connected with manager Phil Rizzo for a proper introduction.
How did you guys meet? Were there any other variations of Fly Phoenix other than the group we see today?
The group was formed by Brandon Rizzo and Nick Lacy. They met randomly in Chicago and Brandon was introduced to two of the other members. At that time the band consisted of a different keyboard player who was a good friend of ours. The final piece was added months later when Ben was introduced to the band by another random occurrence. The newest member was added in 2010 to take the spot of the keyboard player.
You mix together a multitude of genres. Who are some of your inspirations?
The band has an array of inspiring artists that impacted them both collectively and individually. A few of those are The Roots, Robin Thicke and Incubus. Many of the styles that make up the band are a direct result of the kind of depth that inspires the band; soul, rock, funk, jazz, and hip-hop.
When blending together various genres and elements you run the risk of losing focus and sounding watered down, how do you avoid the trap of being an “everything” band?
For us, it’s more a matter of providing the spark that is the Fly Phoenix sound. When you hear it, it’s a recognizable mark of our music and the challenge is making sure that it is there in the songs we create. We feel united on what the music is and the challenge for us has always been getting that mark to come to the surface of our music.
What are some of the things that inspire Fly Phoenix?
Fly Phoenix is a mantra for finding newness out of the monotony, whether that means music or life in general. Inspiration is everywhere and the great part of this band is we draw from the experiences in life and the marrow that comes out gives us inspiration. People, love, change, unity, and respect are things that inspire us.
Describe your sound?
Alternative soul; mixing elements of rock, funk, jazz, and hip-hop into what essentially at the core is soul music. The alternation of musical elements from those presents a different flavor to that soul vibe.
In addition to playing experience you also have experience on the business side of music, how has that helped you?
It helps you grow as an artist and as a person. Managing that part has helped us develop our niche. You get a better understanding of how to market and book shows the right way.
You’ve been performing quite a bit lately; do you have any favorite venues?
We have enjoyed playing all over the city of Chicago, and are making way to step into other cities but we always love performing at places like The Shrine, Reggie’s and the Metro.
Other than performing do you have any other favorite Chicago-centric activities?
We love attending city festivals and events, hanging out and exploring the city. We definitely love the beach.
What else can we expect from you guys in the near future?
Fly Phoenix will be releasing their first single "Glory" on I-Tunes. It was recently used by ECHO fashion magazine in one of their promotional videos. We will also be filming a show for a PBS special on March 25th at Mayne Stage. This event is a fundraiser for the Chicago food bank. Columbia College will be awarding Fly Phoenix a special achievement award on March 11th during the Columbia’s got Talent event, too. Fly Phoenix will also be doing a benefit for the Camp of Dreams benefiting under privileged youth on May 12th at the Chicago Cultural Center.