Chris Gangi of Cornmeal

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Chris Gangi and the traveling musical outfit of Cornmeal have navigated and performed across the country a dozen times over, not even standing still long enough to record a studio album in six years. Fans coast to coast have been eagerly waiting to get their hands on a new album, but these fans are the very reason the band has remained nomadic for so long. "The audience definitely drove us to want to keep doing more and more on the road...Music is definitely a communal relationship. I really adhere to the whole give and take of energy, exchange of energy between audience and musician. I think that's what drives alot of my vision, is that connection between performer and audience."

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With an enthusiastic fanbase that is often willing to travel a great distance to see the band (said fans can frequently be found donning badges of honor notating their "Cornstalker" status), some bands may run into problems of repition but Cornmeal isn't like most bands. Much of their live set is based off improvisation and though they haven't had a studio album in many years, their material is constantly being adapted and added to. Chris elaborated on their songwriting process saying, "The songwriting really comes, we just practice it on the road and in soundchecks and stuff and just play it on the road really. It's not like we go home and work out the songs, they kind of get put together in a live setting. A lot of the arrangement happens off the cuff and a lot of melodic stuff happens live as an improvisational thing, find an improvisational piece or a thought or a storyline and take it from there...our music is constantly evolving...We've been arranging a new tune the last two weekends and today and this is the fourth time we've practiced it and the fourth different arrangement. And it will probably go through, once we start playing it live, it will probably go through another four to five different arrangements in the next year and then when we feel like it's ready, we'll probably go record it. That's kind of how we do it. We sort of work out arrangements and stuff like that in a live setting." Fortunately for the band, this constant flow of creative energy has allowed the band to continously remain fresh for the ears of their audience while cultivating an aura of experimentation that has created a strong bond between bandmates. "We try not to, we try, and this is a hard thing because you have five people with different opinions but we try to not pigeon hole people's creative energy. If someone has an idea, we'll try it out. Since we play so many live shows, we don't mind trying out something we never might play again...it's that open atmosphere as a band that keeps everyone's creative energy up and keeps us on our toes because that chemistry then is always in check and we always have to concentrate on it. And it's just something, you know, playing together for eight years, it's something you can't even practice, it just happens. I don't have to look over, I know JP's there behind the drums. I know Chris.. You know who's there and what they've got."

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Cornmeal's transforming stage sound never loses the underlying spirit that ties their music together. Chris spoke of using goals and deadlines to maintain unity within the group, but what may really be fostering their intention is the attitude of adhering to their own vision. "What I've pulled out of alot of this, is it's a difficult business. Just do not try to compare yourself to other bands out there. Every band is unique and this is probably the biggest thing I still try to focus on is that every band is different and their goals are different and the way they acheive it is different. And if you try to follow someone else's path, it's not gonna happen. It's like lightening striking twice. Everyone who wanted to be Nirvana never got to be Nirvana 'cause Nirvana is Nirvana. They ended up being someone else, whether they made it or not. You have to follow your own path. It's good to use other bands as a guide but not to try to be them or follow their path. You've got to follow your own path; do what works for you and the band."

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Check out Cormeal's music and tour schedule on their website.

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