Grand Rapids band creates unique sound

7249_tov_presso“Everything from Bach to rock,” is cited as an influence on Grand Rapids band The Outer Vibe’s Facebook page. Consisting of Eastern Michigan Universitry alum Nick Hosford on lead guitar, Sean Zee on vocals, Lisa Kacos on the trumpet and keys, Andrew “Wonder” Dornoff on bass and Jeff Brems on drums, The Outer Vibe is pairing pop and rock like it’s never been done before.

“Writing, recording and producing all of our albums and maintaining a DIY operation in nearly everything we do is one of our biggest accomplishments,” Hosford said. They’ve even built their own recording studio located just north of Grand Rapids.

Their influences include classic musicians like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen and pop legends like Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga. They also admire the work of rock powerhouses like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and the soul of James Brown and Ray Charles.

To date, The Outer Vibe has four releases: 2003’s “Pretty Good,” 2006’s “Games We Play,” 2009’s “Monster EP,” on both CD and vinyl, and 2012’s “Hoka Hey.” The title track of the album is currently being played on multiple Top-40 radio stations throughout the Midwest.

The Outer Vibe has played for crowds as large as 35,000, sharing the stage with acts such as REO Speedwagon, We The Kings and Detroit legends Electric Six.

Hosford and Zee made music together as friends in high school, later adding Kacos and Dornoff to the mix and finding Brems on Craigslist.

EMU guitar professor Nelson Amos had a hand in shaping Hosford’s guitar skills. He taught him for four years while Hosford completed the undergrad and master’s program in guitar performance.

“In addition to his ‘wild’ stage persona, Nick has a serious academic side,” Amos said. “He was the winner of our Music Department graduate competition several years ago.”

The Outer Vibe has made appearances in Ypsilanti a few times, playing a hemophilia benefit and an EMU campus radio event at The Tap Room.

“We’d love to come back soon,” Hosford said. “EMU and Ypsilanti are great places full of great people.”

The band has a “bucket list,” starting with international travel and touring.

“We love to travel and to meet new people,” Hosford said. “It’s so cool to see new cities with their culture, architecture and unique flow of life. The more of that we get to do, the better. We’d also like to visit more college campuses and keep growing our radio airplay markets.”

The journey of The Outer Vibe has been anything but boring. When asked about some of their best stories as a band, Hosford said, “Well, there’s the alpaca sneezing in Wonder’s face, cooking breakfast on our tour bus griddle at a biker rally, riding motorcycles through a downpour mixed with hail, visiting the Chief Crazy Horse monument, TP-ing the bathroom of a venue in the middle of a set and getting the same in return to our tour bus, ferry rides in a hurricane on Lake Erie, consuming giant bags of popcorn weekly, ninja stars, stair sledding, Dance Dance Revolution, lighting the street on fire while filming our ‘Hoka Hey’ music video – and those are the PG-rated ones.”

The Outer Vibe’s music is making its way around cyberspace. With their material on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon, as well as their official website theoutervibe.com, they’re getting their name out there. You can also check them out at facebook.com/TheOuterVibe and on Twitter: @TheOuterVibe.

View the original post at the Eastern Echo.

Weekend jamming creates Congress

It was approximately 10:45 on a gray Saturday morning in January 2011 when Jim Cherewick, Eric Gallippo, Ed Golembiewski and Aaron Quillen met at Ypsilanti’s Hen House and wrote six songs. This was
the day that Congress was officially born.

“I was not entirely stoked on the idea of what I thought was going to be a random day of jamming and nothing else,” said Quillen.

“However, something magical happened, and we churned out six full, completely arranged songs in three hours or less. By the end of that jam session, all four of us were extremely excited about the music we created and agreed on our status as a real band.”

Congress is a local band based out of Ypsilanti. It features Cherewick on vocals, Gallippo on guitar and backup vocals, Golembiewski on bass, and Quillen on drums.

“We played our first show in June 2011,” said Gallippo. “We all knew each other and had all played with at least one of the other guys in some other project before, which I think made it come together really easily.”

R.E.M. and The Jesus Lizard are huge influences on the band, and they consider them when they think of a music genre to describe Congress.

“We liked to call it domesticated punk rock at first, but I think we could probably now safely call it punk domesticated,” said Golembiewski.

Cherewick described the band as, “Rock ‘n’ roll and punk. ‘Punk ‘n’ roll.’”

In the area, Congress has taken the stage at Woodruff’s, Café Ollie and the Blind Pig. They’ve also performed at Ypsilanti’s Ypsifest, Mittenfest and in Hamtramck, Mich. for the Metrotimes Blowout.

“Last year we made it out to Grand Rapids [Mich.] to play a festival and we were fortunate enough to share a stage with Trans Am, Jaill and Future Islands,” said Golembiewski. “Blown away by this fact, as it was our third show, we were amused when everybody vanished to see George Clinton when our set time started.”

They’re planning to play in Chicago sometime within the next year.
Last fall, Congress wrapped up the recording of their EP “Maker” at Dreamland Theater with Brad Perkins of Wormfarm Recordings, it was released this past September. They’re currently in the process of recording a split with another local band, Green Lights at SPUR Studios.

“My hope is that we record a full-length record before the end of 2013 as well, though interest has been expressed internally about just being a singles and EPs band. We’ll see,” said Quillen.

Before their EP was recorded, though, Congress did release 25 copies of a cassette tape that they recorded. It was very exclusive, for people driving cars that still have cassette players in them. They didn’t even get to give their moms copies.

It hasn’t all been music, fun and festivals for Congress, though. Beer has been a big part of their development.

“I’m glad that we chose the name Congress and not Beer Dads. I love beer, but I ain’t your dad,” said Cherewick.

“It bears note that we really truly miss Kid Rock’s Bad Ass beer. We almost had to break up the band when that stopped being available,” said Golembiewski. “Serious. But I think we all feel really fortunate to be playing exactly what we want to in a band of good friends. This band is a true partnership of four people with unique contributions and perspective. Hopefully we keep it up cuz being in your 30s is boring without loud stuff going on in your basement.”

You can check Congress out on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/congressband, and listen to their EP at congressmusic.bandcamp.com.

View the original post at the Eastern Echo.

The Vagrant Symphony celebrates 9th anniversary with show at Blind Pig

It’s been nine years since the idea for local outfit The Vagrant Symphony was formed on Eastern Michigan University’s campus in 2003. Chris “Chewy” Anderson, the founder, Joe O’Dell, the 12th member, Alexis King, the 13th member and Bennie Phinisee, the 14th member, are the backbone of the giant psychedelic folk band that’ll be celebrating its ninth anniversary in December.

“We wanted to call it a traveling symphony or mobile symphony, then we came across ‘vagrant,’ which was like a random thesaurus find,” Anderson said. “Vagrant’s not necessarily a term of endearment; it’s like a homeless man.”

Anderson founded The Vagrant Symphony, and over the years members have come and gone. Some have even been dubbed “honorary members” by the band. The list of past, present and honorary members of The Vagrant Symphony just recently hit 20, most of whom have been involved with other local bands, but Anderson insists that he’s extremely picky when it comes to the members that he chooses.

Everyone who performs during a Vagrant Symphony set doesn’t play a set instrument. O’Dell usually plays guitar, though, and King frequents the drums, but she’s been playing bass a lot lately.
Anderson started as a solo artist before he put the Vagrant Symphony together.

“I was like a shaky leaf on stage,” Anderson said. “I couldn’t get through a song effectively and having a band helps, hugely. You’ve got to have backing. It’s hard to be a Bob Dylan.”

Other than Bob Dylan, The Vagrant Symphony takes inspiration from Motown music, Pink Floyd and The Doors. They try to go for a low-fi, old school sound at their shows. While they hope to release a 7-inch vinyl recording soon, The Vagrant Symphony is focusing on their live show.

Having gone on a few tours, including a brewery tour that extended to Illinois and Wisconsin, they’re back in Ypsilanti, playing shows all over the area.

“Woodruff’s is one of our favorites,” King said.

“But in terms of old-school Ypsilanti,” Anderson said, “My roots definitely lie with the Elbow Room.”

“There was this one time we played Crossroads, and he [Anderson] wanted to open up the show out front, so we had an acoustic set outside opening the show. It’s all about the shows at our shows,” King said. “Chewy is an amazing visionary. He envisions these awesome shows and gets so many people booked. People are dancing, everybody’s hugging each other and things really come together. It’s a beautiful thing.”

On Dec. 28, The Vagrant Symphony will be celebrating their ninth anniversary with a show at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. Nine bands will be accompanying them, and they plan on breaking the Blind Pig’s record of most people performing on stage at once, which is currently 17.

“Our music isn’t the most important thing. The most important thing is the people we’re spending our time with at the shows,” O’Dell said. “Our music is important to us, but it’s more important to get together with the bands so they can get coverage and be seen too.”
They’ll even cut their sets short to allow more time for the other bands, or to fit more acts in at a show.

“We’re all about having fun, letting loose and being yourself,” King said. “It’s about the music, it’s about the local people, it’s about the community. Just bringing people together.”

Up next for The Vagrant Symphony is another tour. This time they’ll be with Bowling Green, another local Ypsilanti band, and they plan to hit every Bowling Green in the country, including Ohio, Kentucky, Virgina and anywhere else where there’s a Bowling Green.
You can check out The Vagrant Symphony’s music and news at http://www.facebook.com/thevagrantsymphony and www.soundcloud.com/vagrantsymphony.

View the original post at the Eastern Echo.

Joys of pop punk made music buffs

For someone who has attempted to play multiple instruments and failed, and couldn’t carry a tune if my life depended on it, music plays a huge part in my life and has for a long time. My first cassette tape was Hanson’s “Middle of Nowhere.” I was torn between Backstreet Boys and N*Sync, and my first concert was Britney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again” tour. Those days got me into music, but it wasn’t until my discovery of pop punk I became the music buff I am today.

In middle school, I spent all of my allowance on CDs that were on sale at Target. I would shout along to Good Charlotte’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” and my parents took away my Simple Plan CD when they heard “Addicted” coming from my room. It was in eighth grade I started expressing my opinions of George Bush… because Green Day’s “American Idiot” told me to.

My freshman year of high school is when “From Under the Cork Tree” by Fall Out Boy was released and I learned about the greatness of the Fueled By Ramen record label.

Instead of spending my money on Good Charlotte and Simple Plan CDs, I was spending my money on concerts my parents had to drive me to. I was a regular at St. Andrew’s Hall and the Magic Stick, and I fan-girled while trying to meet Cobra Starship (back when they still were pop punk) and The Academy Is… too many times to count.

Sure, pop punk bands didn’t have the deepest lyrics and their power chords weren’t particularly difficult to play, but there was just something so appealing about the genre, especially for high school kids. Most of the “real” punk bands either stopped existing in the ’80s or were singing about political things 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds didn’t care about or understand. Pop punk’s simple lyrics about teenage romance, boredom and dealing with friends and parents are what kids who bounced around and “moshed” in those pits could relate with.

That’s why we screamed along with them.

While at times I wish that I existed in the 1960s so I could dress like the people from Mad Men, I feel like I was a teenager at a great time. I was a teenager when all of these pop-punkers were at their peak, and I can’t think of a better way to have put off my algebra homework than waiting in line outside to see the Pink Spiders, or sweating my shutter shades off at Warped Tour.

A few months ago, I went to the Royal Oak Music Theater to see New Found Glory on their “Pop Punk’s Not Dead Tour.” While I was pumped to hear their movie soundtrack covers and “My Friends Over You” live since I never got a chance to back in the day, it wasn’t as fulfilling as I expected it to be. Maybe it’s because I’m no longer a teenager, but since I can still listen to those albums and appreciate them for what they are, I think the real reason is that, contrary to NFG’s statement, pop punk is dead.

It’s upsetting, but it’s true. New Found Glory recently released “Radiosurgery,” and Blink-182 released “Neighborhoods.” But did anyone really like them? Did they leave as big of an impact as “Sticks and Stones” or “Enema of the State”? Versions of pop punk still exist, but with variations. Synthesizers and dance beats seem to be a popular replacement of power chords (remember my snarky comment about Cobra Starship earlier?).

As years go on, music changes, genres change. While it’s sad to see your favorite bands start to stink or break up, remember the good times you had with them. Think about when you were getting ready for one of your first dates listening to “First Date,” or singing along in your first car with your friends pulling out of the high school parking lot.

View the original post at the Eastern Echo.