Netherfriends takes over Tobacco Road

You’ve certainly heard of a one-man-band. But you haven’t seen anything quite like Netherfriends, aka Shawn Rosenblatt from Philadelphia, who crafts songs by looping sounds – guitar chords, vocal melodies and beat-box – into a sweeping wall of sonic bliss. Catch his mind-blowing act on Tuesday and Wednesday night at Tobacco Road. He talked to about the show and his legendary James Brown dance moves.

What inspired you to loop all those sounds together?

I got tired of touring with band members – it’s expensive, and it’s hard to find musicians who are excited to play songs that are not theirs. And so I didn’t wanna just play acoustic guitar – I just wanted to come up with a unique way of playing live. And I’ve used a loop pedal before, and I’ve started to use it more, with drums and my voice and guitar and keyboards and stuff.

So every live performance of every song is kind of built from scratch then?

Yeah, pretty much. I kind of feel like one of those hibachi chefs, where you cook something as creatively as possible, to entertain your guests. I really don’t like watching people loop – I really don’t like loop artists that much – so I try to do it in a way that’s very tasteful and not like “Wait for it, guys – it’s coming!”

Was it difficult to master the technology?

Oh yeah. It was terrible when I first started doing it. I really didn’t know what I was doing. It was kind of like a year of touring that way before I finally figured it out.

You’re in town for two shows – how different or similar might they be?
I’m gonna play different songs both nights.

Are you gonna break out any James Brown dance moves?
Yeah, I always have to – that’s the crucial part of the performance.

What does the name Netherfriends mean?
It’s just a play on words from the Netherlands – I was trying to come up with my own word. I wanted to name a band after a country. It was either that or Sing-a-Whores, but that’s not very appropriate.