There is more than meets the eye, or ear rather, when people see and think of Tech. Underneath all the tech-savvy nerdiness there exists a rich passion for music. To highlight and celebrate musicians in our engineering world, the Technique interviewed six different bands, each with current Tech students or graduates. Below is a profile of three very interesting bands that you can catch performing at a venue near you. For the extended articles and profiles of more, visit www.nique.net.
“When we came together it was an interesting collision of worlds but somehow they intertwined nicely,” said David Krislis, the guitarist and vocalist for his group, Cicada Rhythm, about himself and the other half to the band, Andrea DeMarcus.
Despite the immense differences in musical background, Cicada Rhythm possesses a cohesive unity that is rich in timbre and full of character. DeMarcus graduated from Juliard just last year, while Krislis is in his last year getting a ME degree here at Tech. Demarcus lives in Athens, and as a result the pair play about half their shows in Athens and the other half in Atlanta.
Krilis is a self-taught musician and is very involved with music here at Tech, in addition to Cicada Rhythm, he performs with another group, Midnight Revival, participates in a Jazz Ensemble, and works at Under the Couch.
Their acoustic blue grass sound has been rapidly developed; the two started producing songs together only five months ago. Most of David’s influences on his writing style are local artists like Sean Costello, Nate Nelson and his Entertainment Crackers, and Joe McGuiness.
Their songs have a wide range of topics, “I don’t write love songs, that’s one thing, so I try to write about everything else” said Krislis, “I like to write about things of substance, and stories.” Their tunes have a very welcoming tone that is entrancing between the harmonies in the melody and the detailed guitar picking patterns.
“Each time we play it gets better,” said David, after reflecting on his past shows with Cicada Rhythm. He plans to continue playing throughout his career, following the music wherever it may take him.
They have several shows coming up, December 1st Cicada Rhythm will be playing with Shovels and Rope in Athens at the Caladonia Lounge. They will be playing Friday December 9th, at Under the Couch. You can hear their songs on their website cicadarhythm.org, in fact they will be uploading two new songs this week.
Pillage and Plunder
Unlike the name might suggest, this band neither pillages nor plunders the sounds of anything already in Atlanta. The quirkiness of these three artists translates directly to their music; “It’s a really goofy pop rock sound,” Says GokulParasuram, a guitarist/vocalist currently at Georgia State. But don’t let their light spirit mislead, the band is very serious about their business in the music industry.
Parasuram along with his two band mates, Hsiang-Ming Wen, guitar/vocals, and Noah Kess, percussion, have been together as a band since 2006. Wen, a 2010 architecture graduate, met Parasuram in grade school and have been performing together since. They typically do a show at least once every two weeks at various venues around Atlanta.
“The biggest influence on our band is that really hilarious 70’s prog rock like Queen, Yes, and King Crimson,” Parasum says, while describing what factors they pull into the music creating process. Their songs have rich diversity, despite having three members, Wen and Parasuram can switch off between a variety of different instruments.
Pillage & Plunder’s lyrics, which are typically brought a new song last, are very straightforward with meaning; “It’s all very honest,” says Wen, “We’re just saying what is already out there,” says Kess. Currently they are about to start recording for their first full length album, in which they will be expanding their lyrical content.
Granted the group has faced challenges as most emerging artists do, “You can have a terrible period of five or six months but if one person comes up to you and says, ‘hey, I really love your music,’ and mean it, it’s worth it,” says Parasuram.
In the future, the band plans to keep pursuing their careers as artists, “We’ll keep doing it until we don’t have anything else to say,” says Parasarum. They rely on the reception of the audience as long as it continues to be positive, they will keep doing what they do best!
Their next show will be November 30th at the Drunken Unicorn at 9pm. You can check them out on facebook, or their website, wearepillageandplunder.com.
The Seven Handle Circus
“Life’s a circus if you have seven handles of whiskey, one for every day of the week.” said Shawn Spencer, guitar player and MGT ’10 grad, smiling from across the table at Cypress Street Tavern. For The Seven Handle Circus however, it seems life is becoming a circus whether whiskey is around or not.
The “Bad-ass Blue Grass” band has been attracting significant attention in the southern music scene; just recently they performed at the Fox Theater with Mumford and Sons. The big name band had wandered into a pub near the Fox where 7HC was playing a show, and quickly asked 7HC to join them.
Seven Handle Circus was, for lack of better word, “born” in the basement and on the front porch of Sigma Nu Fraternity, where several members were brothers. “It was so impromptu and informal for the longest time, we didn’t expect this,” said Steve Bledsoe, mandolin player and current ME student.
Having six people in a band, the group has diverse individual influences, yet are unified by a shared passion of both 90’s rap and, of course, old blue grass classics like Doc Watson, New Grass Revival, Yonder Mountain Stringband, and Ricky Skaggs. “Everybody was getting into classic blue grass; a lot of people want to put us in the category: ‘oh, did you listen to Mumford [and Sons] and then get into blue grass?’ but no, we all listened to good old stuff,” said Matt Norris, a MGT 04 and bassist for the group.
Recently they participated in the Albino Skunk Blue Grass Festival in South Carolina, where they enjoyed the enthusiasm of other blue grass bands, hanging out, making friends and doing what they love. “It was a good environment, people and families just having fun,” said Norris.
A big moment for the band was this past August, when the band played at the Buckhead Theater with Lera Lynn. The show’s promoter decided to have 7HC headline, recognizing the crowd they could bring in. The band sold out presale advance tickets, bringing in over four hundred people.
“It was the first time when I realized, I might not only want, but be able to do this for a long time and be profitable from it, it was just unreal,” said Richard, a BC ‘13 and fiddle player, about the show.”
The songs have topics that are easily relatable to any listener, with no sharp statements that might be discomforting. “What I sense in Shawn’s music is a lot of overcoming obstacles for love and philosophical enlightenment, just life stuff,” said Norris about Spencer’s Lyrics.
Georgia Man, a song that highlights the band’s true passions to play music no matter what opposition and challenges they face, has become quite the local hit.
“Having people sing your lyrics, having every member of the crowd sing your lyrics, it’s really cool I don’t know why.” Said Spencer when asked what was the most fulfilling part of this experience has been.
The band’s next show will be New Year’s Eve at Peachtree Tavern, and get your jewel cases ready because their newest EP will be released that night! In addition they have a show at the Buckhead Theater in the spring, that they promised would be “BIG,” How big I wondered? “Wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tubeman, big.”
If you haven’t already, be sure to check The Seven Handle Circus out online or on iTunes. These Tech boys are bound for greatness; they’ve engineered a sound too good not to notice.
Qurious (pronounced “curious”) is a space noise- hyphy band that incorporates elements of nature and incorporates ethereal elements in their songs, weaving stories from collages of music environments constructed by the two musicians. Catherine Quesenberry, A senior STAC major, is the vocalist and synthesis for the group while Mike Netland, a senior illustration student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, creates, edits and develop beats for the tracks.
The two have been making appearances in the music scene of Atlanta since 2009 when they first began working together and producing. “We explore a lot within the synthesizer to construct an environment for people to listen to,” said Quesenberry, “There are two parts to our songs: the comfortable, familiar, melodies and beats, and the more exploratory textural environments.”
Their latest album, “Planet Plant,” takes the listener on a journey of exploration starting at a planet’s deepest point and ascending into space. The album was named on of the top 20 Atlanta releases of 2010 by Creative Loafing, in addition awarded a “Best of 2011” award for “Best Ambient Composers.”
During their shows, there are no breaks between songs, and all transitions are made up live, adding a functional creation element to each show.
“A lot of success in the industry however small or big is based on how your friends are doing and who is thinking of you,” said Catherine as she relayed gracious tidings for her friends in Wowser Bowser, Reptar, Street Violence, and Tesserect. The network built by interacting with other musicians can radically change a band’s dynamic.
The pair is working on a new album focusing on elements of language and communication that will be distributed by Stick Figure Records upon completion. Their next appearance is Friday, Novemeber 11th, with Youth Lagoon at the Drunken Unicorn. In addition, they will be playing at the Georgia Theater on New Years Eve with Reptar.
The Great Daner
“We put on a hell of a show, come see us live,” said Ryan Fourde, a fourth year EE major when I met the band on the roof of CULC. Foarde is one eight members of the lively blues funk band, The Great Daners. This impressive collection of all Tech undergraduates have been jamming casually together for some time, and are now establishing themselves an official band.
The “beat laboratory” basement of Sigma Nu fraternity has been their experimental playground as they develop their sound and group dynamic. They are fairly close friends with The Seven Handle Circus, who had similar beginnings.
“One of our strengths is definitely playing together and being able to improvise and read each other,” said Joe Gammie, Sigma Nu President. The group never has trouble finding something to play, and enjoy blues as a go to staple for their sound. They have learned to play for their audience, incorporating several covers into their repertoire and adding their own style to each.
“We’ll take a song and put our own spin on it, for example our next show we’re going to do a cover of Love Song that will be far less corporate.” Said Gammie, “We want to reach as many people as possible.”
“No one really knew what to expect our first show… but afterwards it went really great and everyone wanted us to play until about 2 o’clock, so we did.” Said Foarde. Their big band instrumentation lends itself to such an enthusiastic and full sound, there is no question that they bring the house down each time.
“The biggest obstacle is getting together and making decisions as a group, on anything from set list to our band name,” said Gammie. Not only do the members of The Great Daners have to balance their schedules between classes, each member is also active in other extra curricular activities that must be factored into the equation.
They’ve been starting to write their originals and are working towards recording these sometime early next year. As they solidify their sound they are trending towards a more blues sound, since there are so many options and flexibility within the genre.
Their next show is coming up on November 17th at Georgia Tech Night at the High Museum. The band has an open door policy so if you want to stop by and check them out during rehearsal, you’re encouraged to do so. In addition they have a facebook page and bandcamp, where you can listen to some of their tunes. Here’s the full band list:
- Ryan Foarde fourth year EE major on Guitar and Vocal
- Jackson Esoda, fourth year CE on guitar
- Joe Gammie, third year ME on drums/percussion
- Dylan Richards, second year BME on keyboard
- Brian Palmer, fourth year EE on bass
- Radhi Ladd, third year STAC on vocals
- Pete George , third year IE on alto sax
- Boice McGrew, third year CE on tenor sax
Mixing influences of jazz and blues, W.L Bishop, a third year industrial design major, and his band mates James Lavender and Johnathan Jenkins have been bringing new intriguing new sounds to the Atlanta music scene. Bishop’s raw and earthy sounds reflect the many influences he’s had on his life as well as the true stories behind his lyrics.
He has been playing music since he was a young child; at the age of 13 or 14; he was gifted an electric guitar and vowed to learn to play. In addition to guitar, Bishop plays the mandolin, harmonica and piano.
“I try to convey how emotions and life experiences shape us and add to our life story,” said Bishop when asked what he likes to write about in his songs.
Bishop’s plans for the future are to continue making music, no matter what challenges he is forced to face. Currently he is working on his first EP which should be released sometime next year.
“There are a lot of songs that have changed the way I look at things in life and death, and I hope my music can have that same effect on my listeners,” said Bishop. If you have yet to hear Bishop, check him out www.WLBishopmusic.com.