The Rock of Ages

The everlasting phenomenon

The Rock of Ages

This is a story you’ve heard before. A group of angsty teenagers meet in high school, bond over a common love for rock n’ roll, and start a band. This is a trend that has captivated teenagers for Decades, and a recent Decatur band, Currently Nameless is keeping up the tradition.

 

So, why is this? How has this trend been kept alive since the 1960’s despite our changing cultureREAL-START-BANDSDecatur parent and musician Bill Taylor, is a prominent figure in the community of musicians. He is the lead bassist in The Bitter Roots, and toured with various bands right out of college.

“It’s always something that I’ve had with me,” Taylor said. “I’ve been in a band since i was 14. So, that’s 30 years of experience, and it’s always been something really social.”

Taylor feels that people start bands for a number of reasons, the main one being to create something new.

“There’s the social aspect and the creative aspect,” Taylor said. “It’s so cool to get together and create something that hasn’t been done before.”

A lot of people get hooked on music and their careers build from there, Taylor said.

“We made a bunch of noise, and it didn’t sound very good, but we had a blast,” Taylor said. “Six weeks later we played our first live show. there were about 20 people there, and we were loving it. I haven’t been able to put it down since.”

Taylor feels optimistic for the future of garage bands, and attributes it to modern recording technology.

“With all of the tools of the modern day like the internet, the music will be there forever,” Taylor said. “There’s a lot of lasting records that will be there. My grandchildren will be able to hear my music.”

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Despite the changing culture and 40 plus years, one thing remains a constant trend among teenagers from the 1960’s to now: starting a band.

Whether it’s 1985 or 2015, teenage bands continue to rock out neighborhood garages and basements.

There’s something otherworldly about being in a band. It’s an idea that’s romanticized and worshiped by fans and musicians.

There’s been the greats: The Rolling Stones, The White Stripes, Nirvana, Aerosmith, The Beatles and The Ramones. All household names that many people associate with adolescence and growing up.

These bands have been the forefront of rock n’ roll since they made it big, inspiring young musicians for generations.

So what makes a successful band? Why did these groups prevail while their counterparts failed? There are speculations about why this is, most of which have to do with the time that these bands released their music.

Taylor feels that the classic band’s success can be attributed to the time period in which they formed, as well as how music was being produced.

“My theory is that when those bands started, that was a time when there was a thing called record companies,” Taylor said. “The companies would promote the artist’s career, and help them cultivate several albums to let them mature. If they made it huge, they had a support mechanism behind them. That’s how those bands got to be so big. Today, we have a small amount of successful bands. None of which are successful to the magnitude of past bands,” Taylor said.

Taylor accredits this to the change in the structure of the music industry.

“Today, it’s completely different,” Taylor said. “It’s all digital and everything is about the single. You have these inexperienced artists that come out and they try and make a career off of a single songs. It’s so hard for lightening to strike twice.”

The new atmosphere is causing experienced musicians to question the success of old bands in today’s industry.

“Who even knows if the rolling stones would have made it today?” Taylor said.

Growing up around bands his whole life, Taylor has seen what makes certain bands successful over others.

“We see bands all the time where the members hate each other, and can’t stand talking to each other,” Taylor said. “The bitteroots we go out together, and we have fun together, and we’re super fortunate. It shows in the music. Bands can only be successful if they are able to connect as a group of people,” Taylor said.

BUSINESS

Garages filled with amps, broken drumsticks, and piles of trashed music turn into arenas of a thousand screaming fans. That’s the end goal, right?

From local gigs to sell out arenas it’s every band’s dream. Everyone wants to make it big, to be on the cover of Rolling Stone and get played on the radio. What most aspiring musicians don’t know is that a band is a corporation, and has to be approached with a commercial point of view.

Eric Zirlinger vocalist of Face the King, knows the importance of business.

“You have to understand that it is a business and your band has value,” Zirlinger said in an interview with The Hub. “Many bands forget that.”

Frank Hammonds, lead guitarist of The Upset Victory, makes sure that his band places a huge emphasis on their business.

“In order to be profitable as a band, one must be able to reinvest in the band,” Hammonds said. “Take the profits from shows, tours, CD sales, merch sales, etc. and re-invest back into the band. Whether using those funds to buy new merchandise or to record a new album, you will thank yourself later.”

Taylor agrees with this mindset.

“We treat our band like a business,” Taylor said. “There are a lot of bands that never get called back because they’re late or unprofessional. We’ve always treated it as another job.”

Psychology of making music

Decatur Band header copyIt’s a rainy, cold, Sunday night in Decatur Ga. All through the neighborhoods the fires are roaring, dinner is cooking, and kids are getting ready for bed. But for four high school students, it is a totally different night. The drums are pounding,  guitar and bass strings booming, and the mic is echoing loud. For Ivey Andrews, Jack Hurst, Jackson Rock, and Jake Miller, this is a typical kind of atmosphere that they encounter often.

Although all four of them are used to the loud noise and creative dynamic, they are all new to putting their talents together and making music. The band recently jumped into the garage band phenomenon after Hurst, the bassist, realized his friends had more talent than he thought. Spontaneously, they were thrown into the scene.

“So we were just boolin’ in Jake’s backyard one day and I heard this beautiful sound coming from the shed and I walked in on Jackson playing the guitar. I said hey, I play the bass, and at the same moment, drums were in the back so Jake hopped on them and started playing. After that we realized that I was horrible at singing and we needed a singer. So somewhere along the way we picked up Ivey. And that is sort of how we formed,” Hurst said.

Finding a name for their group has proved difficult because they can’t seem to decide on one that suits their unique relationship perfectly.

“We keep coming up with different names and then we always seem to find a better one so we can never really all decide on one. So for now, we’re just going to be the name-less band until we find one that fits,” Hurst said.

With the band being dominantly boys, sophomore Ivey Andrews had to adjust to the new atmosphere but she definitely loves the different environment.

“It’s fun to be the only girl…it’s sort of cool to be accepted by them because it is so much different from when I’m around my girl friends. I get to see the other side of relationships when it’s more than just girls”, Andrews said.

They all admit to having hectic lives with sports and other extracurricular activities in the way, but they still try to designate time each week to practice.

Rock and Andrews both realize that practice is a time when they can just relax and focus on what is important, the great music.

“When you step into the rock factory, nothing else matters except the music,” Rock said.

“I think it’s fun because it brings us all together. We all do have busy schedules with our sports but practice is a good time for us to do our own thing, let off stress, and make great music”, Andrews said.

However, the neighbors don’t agree with the band’s logic because the garage they practice in is located in a very tight nit community.

“It’s pretty loud. We get a lot of noise complaints. But it really is just fun. A lot of the time we don’t get a lot done because we’re doing other things and getting distracted. It’s a great environment to be around”, Andrews said.

The mood of the band’s practices is always light and goofy. They are constantly cracking jokes and it seems like there is never a dull moment.

“Usually we all sit together in a Satanic circle and light the candles. Then we pour ink in there and we say these exact words. ‘Satan, our lord and savior, come to us in our darkest of times.’ Then he helps us pick out what songs to sing,” Hurst said jokingly.

 

The band has recently come in contact with stitches the rapper in the hopes that he will come and record a few songs with them. This would be a great opportunity for the band to get their name out in the world and just gain some new experience. Of course this will be an expensive task so they are in the process of raising four thousand dollars to fund stitches trip to Decatur.

The band knows that this could just end up how it started, as four friends who met up in a garage to play music, but Hurst knows that if they had a good time, then they met all their expectations.

“Honestly I just expect us to have a lot of fun and kill it when we’re playing. And if it turns into something, it turns into something, but if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t.” he said.

band
Band members Jack Hurst, Jake Miller, Ivey Andrews, and Jackson Rock (left to right) pose for us in front of Rock’s garage after band practice one Sunday night
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Jake Miller, drummer, goofing off during practice. “We can never be serious”, Miller said. “It’s one joke after the next and we never stop laughing.”
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Close up shot of Jack Hurst playing his bass  at band practice. He’s been playing the bass for one year and is excited to become more experienced