The Outpatients are a pop-rock band from Tampa, Florida, and have been playing music on and off for close to 20 years. The current line-up includes lead singer Ken Jewell, Steve McNulty on rhythm guitar and vocals, Glen Griffith on lead guitar, Brett McInerney on keys, drummer Jim Wasenda and Tori Lewis on bass guitar. Today, Ken and Steve spoke with ETV about their musical influences, the meaning behind their songs off their latest EP “Fall from Grace,” and also the status on the completion of their upcoming new album.
Ken was born in Long Island, New York, but moved to Clearwater, Florida, when he was 9. Although he considers himself a Floridian he is a Long-Islander at heart.
“My older sisters listened to lots of 70s folk music when I was young,” Ken said. “They played guitar and sang beautiful harmonies together. I would occasionally join them at family functions as I got older. In high school, U2 and REM were always my favorites.”
Steve on the other hand was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, and his parents were born up North, making him a first generation native Floridian. He also lived in Nashville for almost five years and met a lot of great musicians who he still friends with today.
“Growing up in an Irish family, music was a big part of our daily life,” Steve said. “I remember my grandmother playing piano and my dad and uncles singing Irish songs after a big Sunday dinner. I was exposed to lots of genres. My dad loved traditional Irish music, Jazz, classical music and Opera. We’d sing Irish songs together in the car. I also had older siblings that turned me on to artists like Steve Miller, Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty, Rush, and The Police. I was also a big U2 Fan and then got into the jam band scene. Saw the Grateful Dead about a dozen times and Widespread Panic too. My influences are all over the board.”
About some 20 years ago, the band started out as a group of high school friends just jamming in Ken’s garage.
“Ken’s mother earned saint-hood for putting up with us,” Steve said. “We would listen to cassette tapes a 100 times and eventually figure out the chords and arrangements to our favorite songs.”
“We were fairly organized, although ‘green,’ from the start,” Kenny said.
The band continued to play throughout the 90s. Then in 2010, a fundraiser for cancer research became an opportunity for the band to play together once again. The one-off charity gig proved to be a success.
“I was living in Nashville at the time and the bandmates reached out to me about coming back to Tampa for the Charity event and I didn’t hesitate,” Steve said. “I couldn’t wait to share the stage again with my good friends.”
“It was a great event and an incredible thrill to have us all back together again,” Ken said. “The chemistry hadn’t changed.”
After the show, the band reunited for good and haven’t looked back since. In 2015, The Outpatients released their EP “Fall from Grace,” a collection of positive feel-good rock songs that have brought a smile to all who have heard it. Check out the up-tempo “Now You’re Gone” rocker here:
Ken said the lyrical themes of “Fall from Grace” revolve around hope and love. The album is sure to appeal to all who are looking for fresh tunes that come from relatable experiences.
“The song ‘Hold On’ speaks to individual struggles and the continued chance to overcome them, while ‘I Know’ is a more traditional love song,” Ken said. “‘Coming Round’ is a song about two people who met once, felt a strong connection but never gave up until they were reunited.”
The band has continued to play live and although they have been together for many years, they are still making a splash and continue to rise. They have had to adjust to the difference in how music is listened to these days compared to the 90s, and Ken said the biggest difference about the music scene today is the importance of social media as a tool to share music.
“There are so many more opportunities to get your music out to large audiences and keep your fan base involved via Facebook, Twitter, iTunes, Spotify, etc.” Ken said.
“I would agree with Ken,” Steve said. “The internet and social media has changed the game. I remember plastering gig posters all around town back in the day just to get the word out. Playing music and interacting with the audience hasn’t really changed. People want to hear good music and be entertained. We try to do both.”
Having released their EP last year has built momentum for their next release. The Outpatients are working to release their upcoming new album.
“We are very excited to release some new music!” Steve said. “Ken and I have been working with our co-producer Joe Kelley and have some great songs in the works. We’ve pretty much been writing non-stop since the release of our EP ‘Fall from Grace.’ Our plan is to finish up the scratch tracks we’ve been working on and then head back to Starlight Studios in Nashville later this year to record the final tracks for the next release. Our hope is to have the finished product available in early 2017.”
All the members in the band like to have fun while they record and perform, but they always make sure to take the music seriously to provide the best experience for the audience. Steve said his advice for guitarists who want to continue playing at a high level for many years is to remember that there is no substitute for hard work.
“Some of the best advice I got was to practice with a purpose,” Steve said. “When you pick up the guitar, have a plan and be focused. Practice scales, learn new songs, new chord progressions. Don’t just sit around and noodle on stuff you already know. Challenge yourself. There’s always so much to learn when it comes to playing guitar.”
The Outpatients are currently scheduled to play at the Starlight Concert Series (Dunedin) on Sept. 2, Oktoberfest 2016 (Tampa) on Oct. 20, and at Frenchy’s Stone Crab Festival (Clearwater) on Oct. 22. To stay up to date with the band, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Be a part of The Outpatients’ journey and let’s enter the venture together!