Holy Pinto and Fuzzysurf Play The Highbury

Holy Pinto.

The Highbury is a soccer bar in Bay View that does not typically book live music, however they had a special treat on Wednesday night with booking one of their regulars, Ayman Saleh, to play in his band Holy Pinto alongside Fuzzysurf. The USA-Jamaica game had been going on in the background, bringing a blend of soccer fans and music lovers together in the crowd.

“It was alotta people I hadn’t seen in awhile,” Saleh said. “I do actually come to The Highbury at six-thirty on a Saturday morning – that’s no joke. There’s alotta people I’ve been drinking with for a year and I never talk about my band…it’s just not my vibe. I don’t like to be the guy that brings a guitar to a party. Eventually they caught on that I play in a band and actually showed up without me messaging them. It was like, yeah I get to play in my band, but it was also the people I actually hangout with at The Highbury, so it was a pretty niche thing. This is a kind of a one-off but it was pretty cool.”

Holy Pinto is fronted by Saleh, who also plays guitar. The band’s current lineup consists of bassist Corey Garcia, drummer Ryan Hurley, and keyboardist/trumpeter/auxiliary percussionist Sarah Bogosh (who ironically played in a band called Pinto before). Wednesday night had been their first night in their current lineup. Saleh grew up in Canterbury, England and found a home in Milwaukee from touring through the city following Holy Pinto’s debut release “Congratulations.” He has been here for about a year and a half now.

“There’s a big basement scene here,” Saleh said about Milwaukee’s music scene. “Obviously there’s a twenty-one drinking age so if you’re between sixteen and twenty-one you probably love music a lot more than when you’re older, and you need somewhere to go. A lot of great bands and music exist within that sphere and (Canterbury) doesn’t physically have basements because we have foundations on our houses. And it’s very easy to make friends in Milwaukee. The Midwest is really one of the more similar-to-England places.”

Holy Pinto released their sophomore album “Adult” this past March. Saleh describes the recording process.

“We recorded it immediately before I moved to the United States. Ryan told me he didn’t want to continue playing drums and touring as much, so it was kinda like a parting gift. We went into the studio for ten days and then I decided I would go to the States. It was like the last hurrah of my life in England. A lot of it is about my life growing up in Canterbury. I actually cut songs from the record I didn’t think fit in. A lot of it is really nostalgic about my time in high school; it was like a coming-of-age thing. Seeing Ryan leave to be a more responsible human being and me just not choosing to do that at all was kinda how I felt.”

Ayman Saleh plans to write and record more songs with Holy Pinto soon. He plays Summerfest at 3pm Friday on the Johnson Controls Stage.

Fuzzysurf is a psych-pop-rock band consisting of vocalist/guitarist Sean Lehner, bassist/vocalist Ben Giddens, drummer Mike Roy, and keyboardist Corey Murphy. Roy had not been present for the show; he had a medical emergency earlier in the day – the band did an acoustic-electronic hybrid of their sound. The band’s album “Fuzzy & the Surfs” came out this past May – the follow-up to their debut release “Hometown Feeling.”

“Last summer I was writing some songs, and our last album was like a 90’s alternative type of thing,” Lehner said. “I was thinking we should do a 60’s type sound for this album, so I brought up the idea with Corey and we were brainstorming what to do. We started getting crazy ideas and did a vintage puppet feel for the artwork. We were inspired by The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Zombies…stuff like that. We recorded most of it ourselves except we recorded drums at a studio.”

“A lot of bands will do an old throwback sound but it will be very polished…(we mixed it) very meticulously,” Giddens added. “You kinda get that feel where this is an album from yesteryear but instead of it being a tribute it’s polished by today’s standards.”

The band describes the chemistry between the band’s members.

“I personally feel songwriting is our strong point,” Lehner said. “As long as we have good songs it doesn’t really matter what you kinda do with them. Once you make a good song you get to make an aesthetic choice. We put a lot of thought into the ranging and frequency spectrum so that we weren’t stepping on each others’ toes.”

“Sean does a lot of writing from the get-go,” Murphy added. “I think that he’s very good at identifying what things we wanna go for and things to pay homage to. He executes it pretty authentically.”

“We do have Weezer-esque guitars in there that are built behind the 60’s surf-pop-rock kinda feel,” Giddens said. “Every single one of us all have similar taste in music but have very different backgrounds with what we write. I think that helps bridge this gap between our influences.”

Fuzzysurf is in the process of recording their next album.

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