As the name suggests, brass instruments are prominent in the sound of Boston duo The Hornitz. After all, Will Lombardelli and Lee Neckritz were hired horns before they launched the act, backing headliners like George Clinton, Guster and State Radio. But the horn talent is just part of a funky stew mixing keyboards, samples, sound effects and a Human Beatbox. The sound is so big, it’s hard to believe just two people are making it.
Impossible noises flow forth from Lombardelli (stage name Friendship), reminiscent of Police Academy’s one-man sound machine Michael Winslow. He toggles between feeding clips into a mixing board and playing them back on the fly, singing and jamming on trombone. Meanwhile, Neckritz (a.k.a Stobacca Dashiki) works twin keyboards, blows his sax, provides lead vocals and waves his wild Afro like someone possessed.
Hornitz is, pardon the pun, generating solid buzz in southern New Hampshire. They’ve gigged across the Granite State since their earliest days and also boast solid support across the Vermont border. Local promoter Jordan Paul brought them to Manchester several times, most recently for a Thursday night show in January at Penuche’s.
The duo returns to the downtown restaurant and bar on Saturday, March 29.
“It’s been going real nicely so far,” Neckritz said by phone recently. “Penuche’s was one of the first places we played, and right from the start it’s been a real hot spot. Every time we’re there, it’s great.”
Neckritz and Lombardelli met while attending Boston University in the early 2000s but didn’t perform together until college ended.
“We had common friends, but never talked … then we bumped into each other at a rehearsal for a gig we were both doing,” Neckritz said.
The horn section work began soon after and lasted a couple of years.
“It really got rolling in 2008, when we started doing this full-time,” he said.
The Hornitz’ small-group, big-sound approach was born from necessity — and a few long car trips.
“A lot of bands have trouble shopping themselves as a large act,” said Neckritz. “Friendship was beatboxing in the back seat, and we thought that would be a cool thing to do. We started playing around. Basically, it’s ongoing experimentation but it’s definitely working. … Everything is live — nothing is prerecorded on any of our shows.”
A new CD dropped early this year, which the duo thinks of as a real debut.
“We tried cutting an album three years back, but when were finally done it wasn’t really representative,” said Neckritz. “We gave this one a live feel and it’s really the best quality possible.”
It’s a loose, comfortable affair. One standout track, “Money Back,” was recorded in a single take and is a highlight in their stage show.
With summer tantalizingly close, Hornitz is readying for the festival season, where their electronica-funk is a big draw. One of their first appearances was at a festival in St. John’s Bay, and they’re returning for a few different gatherings this year.
“One of them has seven to eight thousand people, one of the biggest on the East Coast,” said Neckritz.
The busy upcoming schedule includes Camp Barefoot in West Virginia.
For now, they’re enjoying a growing Northern New England fan base — they draw very well at Penuche’s in Concord too. Neckritz cites Paul’s promotion as a crucial element.
“It’s really nice finding someone like Jordan. He’s done so much work and has done such a good job,” he said. “Usually, you have to do the legwork yourself, but when you find people like that it really helps gets the word on the street.”
As seen in the March 27, 2014 issue of the Hippo.