The roots of the music scene in Pittsburgh run very deep and go way back to the time of sock hops and conk hairdos. Many musicians from every era and genre since then have made their mark on Pittsburgh in some way, and many Pittsburgh musicians continue to find inspiration in and from the city. The band members of Mega Def, a local band that prides themselves on their powerful live performance, continue the tradition of quality people making quality music in the city of Pittsburgh. CBSPittsburgh sat down with Mega Def one evening this winter and ventured to learn who they are, and what they do. The weather was cold, but the vibes from the guys were warm as was the conversation that ensued.
CBSPittsburgh: What kind of a band is Mega Def?
Critical Bill (guitar): Sub basement funk.
Billy Pilgrim (MC): We have a lot of influences, we are definitely eclectic. Different frequency same wavelength. As far as genre, I don’t think we fit into any particular box. First and foremost we are trying to make good music. Everybody wants to put you somewhere in a box; we are not that concerned about it…as long as it’s funky ya know.
CBSPittsburgh: How long have you guys been a band?
CBill: About a year and a half.
CBSPittsburgh: How did you all come together?
CBill: We all kinda meet through Free aka Billy Pilgrim. When I was asked to be a part of the band Free gave me a call. Then we got Brandon (Nick Fox) about three or four months in. We gelled instantly.
Nick Fox (MC): I saw the first show and I liked it and I have known all of these guys for a while, then I basically begged free to be in the group and he said alright. So I came down to a practice and I was real timid at first then they made me feel real comfortable about coming down and asked me to come back, and the rest is…the rest.
CBSPittsburgh: Lyrically speaking, are you guys into putting out a message, or is it about just having fun?
BPilgim: When it comes to hip hop in the general sense, personally I’m a big fan of the word. The best hip hop to me is when you have lyrics that don’t need a beat and beats that don’t need lyrics. So whatever we are trying to do, if anything, we are trying to paint a picture.
Nick Fox: There is always a focus on saying something well, but it’s not my main focus.
CBSPittsburgh: How do you guys make a song come together? Does the music come first, or do you write some lyrics, then the music?
Everyone: It’s pretty organic.
CBill: Its five people that have ideas. We come together in rehearsal and try and make those ideas a reality. Sometimes it gets shuffled around… we record most of our rehearsals to capture that organic flow.
Nick Fox: They will jam on something, then one of us [MCs] will start to hum, and then words form, then the music that they play will write the song, then we make the hook then write lyrics for that.
CBill: Most of our songs are written within ten minutes or so into rehearsal.
CBSPittsburgh: How often do you guys gig?
Everyone: About once a month
CBSPittsburgh: What should people expect when they attend a Mega Def live show?
Nick Fox: Performance!
D. licious (Drummer): We are big on showmanship. You are gonna see a performance. You are not just gonna go listen to the band do some songs and that’s it. We perform.
CBSPittsburgh: What is you guys opinion of the music industry in general these days?
D.licious: It’s a bottom line oriented industry. They are gonna listen to your track and if your track isn’t selling them within the first five seconds they will not play you [on radio]. Then on top of that, you have to grease someone’s palm to get your song played on the radio even if they like it. It’s all pay to play at this point.
BPilgrim: I really respect the D.I.Y. ethic you know what I mean? I would like to see more people move in that direction. I don’t know if it’s true but I heard that there are only a handful of record labels left and many of those are declaring bankruptcy ya know.
CBSPittsburgh: Where can people find you on the web if they want to know about any upcoming shows?
L. Denise Edwards is a freelance writer and the CMO of SitaraSocial Marketing in Pittsburgh. You can find her on the web at SitaraSocial.