With their refreshing bite and ambition, the bold Boston rockers are taking grunge to new heights.

On a windy, warm evening, I catch up with The Addition at a demo session in downtown Boston. James Karanasios, the band’s affable and charismatic frontman, greets me to let me into the studio. With his long, curly hair and a band tee, he looks like your typical grunge rocker, someone you’d see at an early ‘90s underground show in Seattle or Portland. He eagerly answers all my questions, making it blatantly obvious within our first meeting that he’s impassioned to talk about the art he makes. As we walk down a narrow hallway that leads to the recording suite, I ask Karanasios what The Addition means to him. He smiles. “The fact that we are four full-time working dudes coming together from different backgrounds to challenge the rock genre gives it some significance,” he says. “Rock is in a weird and beautiful place because it’s not popular right now the way it used to be. It allows for people to experiment. There isn’t any outside pressure to hear a specific rock sound.”

As I sit down in the recording suite, I’m introduced to the other band members—guitarists Ryan Renteria and Brendan Plesha, and drummer Pat Leary. They have all been playing music from a very young age and offer their own explosive and intriguing personalities. They’re eager to speak about the music they love and the music they don’t; we spent a good minute laughing about their hard feelings toward Greta Van Fleet, who refuse to admit that they’re influenced by Led Zeppelin

Gritty and unfettered, The Addition’s sound channels the early days of the grunge scene, with influences from Layne Staley in Karanasios’ stripped-down, aching vocals. Set against a chaotic, high-energy sound, each track pulses with fervor. Infectious riffs lurk throughout songs like “In Between” and “Rat Man.” The band finds their sound through trial and error and through understanding each other. “It’s not a conscious thing,” guitarist Renteria says. “The song is the core.” The band members all come in and add their unique parts, but they’re all receptive. By collaborating, things flow naturally. They’re comfortable with each other. If something’s a little too heavy, or a little too straightforward, they step back and talk about it. After reworking and collaborating together, they create something new. 

The band’s honesty is intriguing; they have aspirations for their unrestrained sound and acknowledge those who have influenced them, but always want to stay rooted in their own originality. “We want to sound live how we sound recorded, and sound recorded as we sound live,” Karanasios says with a smile. “While we adore Alice in Chains and early grunge, we don’t want to sound exactly like them. That era has come and gone—but that’s something that you listen to and go if that’s the place to be, we try to strive for.” 

The Addition was formed by Karanasios and Leary, who first met at AG Salesworks, where the duo worked as cold-callers. “That whole job triggered a chain of events,” Karanasios says. “Being in sales helps with your musicality. Doesn’t seem like it would, but it does. Being confident enough to call strangers helps if you are afraid of singing in front of people. It eliminates that fear.” The band was staying in a cabin when they chose the name of the band. The dining room, an addition to the cabin, provided a place for the band to consistently gather for family meals. “Anytime we had a meal, we were like, ‘let’s head to the addition.’ It took on a whole new meeting,” Leary says. “We liked the name because we as a group were an addition to the rock world. It’s a simple but meaningful name to us.”

The Addition is refreshingly blunt about the stale state of the Boston music scene. They know what they want, and what they feel is missing to make Boston a better place for artists. “It feels like a lot of the work has to be done by the band,” Karanasios admits. “When you play a show, you bring 90 to 100 people on a week’s notice. You tell the promoters, ‘I have another band that could bring in 40 more, do you have another band that could round out the show?’ And they just don’t answer you.” Their frustrations spring not from lack of musicians, nor lack of talent, but lack of infrastructure. When asked what they believe their biggest hurdle as a growing band is, Karanasios says it’s that they’re not playing music that’s popular. “While we would love to get noticed,” he says. “We’d love to have the right people put us in shows, but we get that a louder feel is not what’s ‘in’ right now.” 

The Addition is an honest band that is challenging popular music by playing what they want to play, not what is fashionable at the moment. With their music, bite, and ambition, they’re giving the Boston music scene a refreshing reminder that grunge is far from dead.

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