Emergency Service: Music With a Message

Spending a Sunday morning at Central Park supporting the fight for breast cancer can’t be a much more beautiful and moving event. Unless you did so this year, in which case the guest musical performers, Emergency Service, made the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure moving in a bit of a different way.

Photo credit to Shanna Gibbs

Comprised of core members Sam Rivers, Ed Matos, Chris Norton and George Oberndorfer plus additional members as available, Emergency Service prides itself on what can be described as a catchy and wide-reaching combination of rock, pop and reggae influence.

Rivers, guitarist and vocalist for the band and Matos, vocalist, sum up the band’s style and influences in a direct and effective manner, their speech coinciding throughout my time with them only driving home the fact that they work together as a team.

“A lot of reggae influence for sure,” Rivers begins. “Ed and I met in college. Most college kids listen to a lot of reggae, but we never stopped. Reggae is definitely a big influence in our music. It always has been. It just kinda goes with our vibe which is like good times, we want people to dance. Our music has a good message.”

Though they admit the undeniable influence of reggae music on their sound, both Rivers and Matos are adamant towards the idea that Emergency Service is not confined to reggae and should not be brushed off as a group of “white boys” parroting from the islands.

“Sublime is just another example of a band that kinda took reggae and did their own thing with it. I wouldn’t say we tried to do it just like them, but they’re definitely music we grew up with,” the guys admit. “But also we don’t wanna be white boy reggae. It’s like rock, pop with that reggae feel.”

They also maintain that their music is created with a deeper meaning in addition to the catchy tunes and dance-worthy beat.

“I think we write a lot to different themes, and having songs that are socially conscious or about coming together for a better way,” the guys say. “Which is kinda what brought us to an event like this. It kinda ties in. We’ve done shows for a lot of charities. The name Emergency Service, the idea of emergency service is coming to the rescue. Our music is a vehicle to share our message but also to bring a positive message to people.”

Photo credit to 2012 Emergency Service Band – Outlet Media

Following their introduction at Tuft University, Rivers and Matos have been working together for six years to write and compose the music that keeps their message alive. After Matos transferred from Tuft to NYU, Rivers soon moved back to New York as well, and the two moved in together and began the journey that has resulted in Emergency Service. From here, Rivers and Matos brought together a band consisting of Norton on trumpet, Oberndorfer on bass and most often Drew McLean on drums. The musicians in Emergency Service are immensely talented and involved in their crafts, and for this reason, McClean and additional members of the band including the keyboard players, often rotate back and forth depending on the schedules of their other opportunities.

Trumpet players are not always a solid component of rock and reggae bands, but Matos maintains that as soon he and Rivers heard Norton lay it down, they were hooked to his sound and feel he is an “integral part” of the band.

“Chris, the trumpet player, is a huge part of our band and really has become the third voice,” Matos notes. Rivers confirms this sentiment with an explanation of Norton’s birth into Emergency Service. “Truth of it is that we had a song called ‘Crying’ and I came up with a line, but I was like I don’t wanna sing that and I don’t ’want it to be electric guitar. I met Chris and was like, holy shit the trumpet would be so sick. We knew right away once we heard the trumpet that it fit so well with our style.”

From their charity shows, traditional shows and upcoming EP release, Emergency Service is staying busy, and fans are reaping all the benefits. Scheduled to release their second EP in addition to a track record including two full-length albums, Rivers notes that sometimes an EP just does the job better.

“It kinda goes back and forth. There’s a lot of factors,” he says. “How many songs you have that you really wanna do. With this EP we were working with a really great producer and he and I just sat and worked on the songs. We felt like instead of trying to do a bunch of songs, let’s do like five that we felt really strongly about. There are four originals, and one is a cover of an Offspring song.”

In addition to feeling more strongly about the songs on this new release, Rivers and Matos share that they are also very excited about the actually release as well as the team they’re currently working with.

“We’re releasing a new EP on November 13,” the guys explain. “We have two full length albums, and this is the second EP. But our best. We got a team that puts it out there and lets people know it’s the best.”

As an indirect part of that team and witness to live performance of a few of the new songs, we feel that November 13 is a great date to try something new, and Emergency Service is a great prospect for that title.

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