Blues attracts The Magnatones

By John Benson

Warren native Pat McLaughlin spent years singing and playing guitar in local bands.

The genres ranged from metal and hard core to even Southern rock. But for the longest time, McLaughlin didn’t feel at home.

“I was in Miapollo, which was more like a Lynyrd Skynyrd vibe,” McLaughlin said. “I was always kind of searching for something that really made me feel how I’ve always really felt. It turned out that was the blues. It just caught me. It’s more of what I always wanted to do.”

Being caught by the blues took place earlier this year when McLaughlin crossed paths with old acquaintance and bassist Zack Lovitz. One day, the friends wound up at a late-night waffle joint talking about music.

“Then we started jamming; we just started playing music,” McLaughlin said. “We both loved rock ’n’ roll and soul music, so that’s kind of what happened. I’m real big into blues, and he had a lot of punk influence, so it all works out. We just started about four months ago, kind of coming out of nowhere, actually. We got drummer Shawn Kashay and just started making music. And we made it fast.”

Meet the Magnatones, which is still early in its existence but has been busy working up its set. This includes new (well, they’re all new) song “40 Long Days,” which is upbeat, and the party tune “I’ve Been Out.”

Then there’s the band’s cover of James Brown’s classic “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” which McLaughlin said is one of his favorites.

“It’s such a great song, and he’s one of my favorite musicians, but I don’t think it completely represents us,” McLaughlin said. “The other half of our sound is a little bit faster. We definitely have a soul vibe, but we definitely have more up-tempo stuff. We have a bunch of influences.”

Those influences range from The Ramones to Black Sabbath. However, the one band McLaughlin eschews linking The Magnatones to is an archetypal legendary group.

“It doesn’t sound like Led Zeppelin,” McLaughlin said. “When people say rock ’n’ roll or classic rock, that’s where everyone goes, and I’m kind of tired of that. We’re not rock ’n’ roll. Our lyrics are a little bit more dirty than soul music, but it has a soul vibe, more like Al Green and James Brown. It’s the blues sped up. I don’t want people to get that idea when we say we’re playing rock ’n’ roll.”

Invariably, there aren’t too many bands playing Northeast Ohio that cite Al Green and James Brown as influences. Still, The Magnatones aren’t having any problems getting gigs. The trio plays Friday at Cedars.

McLaughlin said, “I’m not trying to sound cocky, but yeah, I don’t think there are any other bands doing exactly what we’re doing right now. People see what we’re doing. They seem to be enjoying it.”

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