I met The Ward Eights last year at Stephanie and Tom's wedding at Searles Castle. Stephanie had mentioned that she found this amazing wedding band and that I was going to love them. Well, she was right. I recommend The Ward Eights to every client looking to hire a band. They play everything from Motown to modern rap music without a flaw. At Stephanie's wedding, they put together a ska medley for her and her family (they are huge ska fans) and rocked it. I even stayed longer than I was contracted to because I wanted to see what else they were going to do! I was lucky enough to talk to Dave, the bands lead singer, to have him answer some questions about the band and what an engaged couple might want to ask when interviewing a band for their day.
How did The Ward Eights get together?
The initial group of us formed having worked together at Harmonix, the video game studio behind the Guitar Hero and Rock Band video games. Others joined through connections with that initial core group. Everyone has a strong musical background, coming from some of the top music programs in the country (Berkley, NEC, etc.).
How long have you been playing weddings?
Our first wedding was in 2011, about 5 months after we initially formed. Weddings and events were always at the center of what we wanted to do with this band, so we've focused our efforts in becoming the BEST wedding and events band we can be.
What is the number one question you get from couples?
The number one question we get from couples is "what do you guys do for music during your breaks?" This is a great question! Typically, we only take a single break during the dance set and it's usually a time when your guests need a break too! During our breaks, we often throw on a song or two requested by the couple on an iPod. In my experience, guests usually take it as an opportunity to take a break from the dance floor. Don't worry, that's okay!! People don't usually flood out of the party. After a brief bathroom break and/or another drink, your guests are even more invigorated for our second set!
What is the best song request you've ever gotten?
We've had TONS of great requests over the years, but one of the best requests was for us to put together a "History of Rap" similar to what Justin Timberlake does with Jimmy Fallon every time he goes on The Tonight Show. This was not a simple request, but we took it very seriously and BLEW AWAY the couple that requested it. We saw the value of having something like that in our set beyond this wedding, so we went all out and put together a 10 minute medley! We've done this for a number of requests we've gotten, including a Ska medley and a TLC medley... both super fun and things we keep in our rotation.
What question should couples ask when interviewing bands that they don't always ask?
One of the things we hear from people is that lots of wedding bands are sort of thrown together on the day of the wedding, meaning that they haven't really rehearsed together before and just show up to the wedding to play. Sometimes they haven't even met each other before! This seems crazy to me, but apparently it's very common. Couples should ALWAYS ask about how stable the line-up of the band is and how often they rehearse. The difference in performance quality between an actual band and group of musicians thrown together for a single wedding is tremendous. Make sure your band has actually played together before! If you have a chance to see the band play live before hiring them, you should absolutely do that. If they're not playing anytime soon, see if you can crash in on part of their rehearsal.
What makes you stand out from other wedding bands out there?
I guess this answer plays to the last answer a bit. I think the thing that makes us stand out is that we have a very consistent line up and we rehearse every week, even throughout the slower winter months. Keeping up with regular rehearsals gives us the opportunity to keep our large repertoire fresh and helps us to learn lots and lots of new music. There's a lot of musical talent out there, especially in the Boston area, but the difference between a good wedding band and a great wedding band is making sure you stay sharp! Another advantage is that we run our own business. When you contact us, you're not dealing with an agent or an agency that handles multiple bands and hundreds of couples. You're dealing with, well ME! I love having the opportunity to strike up a fun working relationship with couples to help them bring their musical vision to life on their wedding day. There's nothing I enjoy more than showing up to a wedding and feeling like we're playing for old friends!
If you have a non-dancing crowd, or see that the dance floor is empty, what is your tactic to get everyone back out there on the dance floor?
First off, empty dance floors are quite uncommon for us. That said, sometimes people are a little more shy. One thing I do is ask the people who are having a ball on the dance floor (there's always at least a few crazy dancing types!) to go and grab somebody who's sitting down and seems disengaged. This tactic works like a charm because people LOVE an excuse to get their more timid friends to cut a rug. Best part, though? If guests go get their friends, it means I can keep singing!
Are there certain venues or types of venues that are better/worse for acoustics?
Definitely! Spaces with high ceilings or lots of stone can make finding the right sound challenging for us. Echoing and reverberation in these types of spaces can be problematic, though not un-solvable. Your band should leave plenty of time for a soundcheck, that way they can properly tune their system for the type of room. The best solution for any space is a full dance floor! Human bodies help to soak up the sound and actually help make the acoustics better in a space! That's just another reason we like to keep the dance floor packed at all times.
Are you still booking weddings and events for 2016?
We sure are! We did nearly 20 weddings in 2015 and next year is shaping up to be even busier! We still have at least 1 available weekend in every month next year, but some months (June and September) are almost sold out. Hit us up before we're fully booked for the year!