Artists You Need To Know: The Ultra

Photo Credit: Mary Slowey

There are so many amazing up and coming bands throughout the world that very often it is easy to miss the ones right in your backyard. Boston band The Ultra is not one that should be overlooked. The band is made up of vocalist Alec MacGillivray, guitarist Sam August, bassist Pat Lyons, and drummer Shaqed Druyan. I stumbled across the video for their song “Lights Go Down” and was amazed by the energy. You would not be able to guess that their recently released self-titled EP was their debut based off of the maturity and quality of the music. I have also gotten a chance to see them perform live when they opened for Black Stone Cherry at Wally’s in New Hampshire. They had great presence and were a lot of fun. This is a band that has the potential to achieve great things.

To get to know them further, I sat down with vocalist MacGillivray to chat about how the band got started and more.

Concert Crap: How did you guys all meet and get the band started?

Alec MacGillivray: We met through a weird series of coincidences.  I met Sam playing a Gillette Stadium tailgate a few years back for a mutual friend who put us together.  I met Shaq just through the music scene of Boston, he was working sound at one of the venues that I was playing a lot during my solo career.  After a year of knowing him, I found out that he was the worst drummer out there.  I’ve known Pat the longest, he lives down the street from me and we were in a band together in middle school.

CC: The EP came out in February. How did those songs come together?

AM: We were playing my old original stuff and some covers for about 6 months before we started talking about writing some songs just for fun.  It really didn’t start out as much more than goofing around to write some songs to make rehearsal a little bit more fun for us.

The first song we wrote together was “Lights Go Down,” and we knew right away that it was going to turn into more than we ever expected.  As soon as we wrote that one, we pretty much lived in Shaq’s basement until we had the EP.  At the time it was exhausting, stressful, and all kinds of emotions were flying everywhere – but looking back on it, it really is a great memory.   I think I speak for everyone when I say it was an experience that we wouldn’t trade for anything.

CC: What are the main influences for the band?

AM: Our influences are way over the map which is what I think is one of the really interesting things about our band.  You can really hear all of the influences in the music, which makes it unique.

Some of our biggest influences include Royal Blood, Aerosmith, AC/DC, U2, Green Day, Good Charlotte, My Chemical Romance, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Dua Lipa, and Eric Johnson.  It really is an eclectic and strange group of artists you wouldn’t necessarily put together at first, but that’s what makes us who we are.

CC: You just came back from recording in L.A. with Courtney Ballard for your new album. What was that like? What’s going to be on the album?

AM: It was really a defining moment for us I think.  Courtney is an absolute monster in the studio.  When you have a guy that gifted at what he does leading the charge things just feel good.  We’ve never had more fun in our lives and we’ve found a sound we really dig and we’re really excited for people to hear what we’ve been cooking up.

CC: You have a headlining show at Brighton Music Hall in July. What’s the setlist going to be like? Any support bands?

AM: That show is going to be the biggest possible party we can throw.  There’s going to be an excess amount of partying, dancing, drinking, singing, and good vibes and we wouldn’t have it any other way.  We want people to come ready to have the best night of their summer.  We’re going to play the EP, our new material we’ve been working on and some covers that will get people moving.

CC: Where do you hope to take The Ultra?

AM: Right now, we’re just going to buckle up and see where this roller coaster goes.  We’re having too much fun to ask too many questions!

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Post by Karen Shalev

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