Plenty of Pittsburgh bands like to claim working-class cred, but for Chrome Moses, that's a given: Guitarist Joe Piacquadio is a member of the boilermakers union, and bassist T.J. Connolly works a bunch of part-time jobs, including union work. That backs up the trio's music, which is bluesy, genuine and shows a certain commitment to authenticity.
Piacquadio and Connolly grew up in the South Hills and met in football, but found that music was what they really bonded over. Connolly's dad had been a musician, and had the tools of the trade around the house. The two played together in Royal Jelly, and more recently have focused on the more Americana-rock band The Wheals, but they use Chrome Moses as an outlet for some of their dirty-rock tendencies.
"Some people think it would be hard writing songs for two bands, and deciding what goes where," says Piacquadio. "But actually it makes it easier — when you write a song, you've got two different bands to choose from."
This weekend, Chrome Moses releases its first EP, a collection of six songs (plus a bonus track). The band recorded it at Blackberry Studios in Lawrenceville, working with engineer Dino DiStefano, who has garnered acclaim through his work with Manchester Craftsmen's Guild.
Chrome Moses has obvious roots in the blues, especially Delta blues guitar. The EP has a gritty but well-produced vibe; it's much more stripped down than The Wheals, where the pair and their bandmates prefer to take their time and experiment with sounds. Crunchy guitars and Piacquadio's relaxed but powerful vocals are held down by a rhythm section that consists of Connolly and Clarence Grant II, the band's drummer now after a few lineup changes. (Wheals drummer Jere Bucek plays on the EP.)
Of course, Chrome Moses has range; on the EP, the song "Main Line" shows they can play power pop, and "Holy Thunder" verges on surf rock. But it always returns to those bluesy guitars — and that's what makes Chrome Moses Chrome Moses.
"There's a lot of things in The Wheals that we like," says Connolly, "but in Chrome Moses we get to do the three-piece, blues, rock thing."