By Amanda Blas , Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
From THE BEACON
Meet the bands that are rocking The Bluff
Take two UP students, a couple of Portland State graduates and a love for the band Radiohead and you have the band Focus Motel.“Aside from music, we also love going out and getting pancakes late at night,” junior George Brockett, keyboard and vocals, said.Made up of Brockett, UP grad student Gordon Ashby and PSU graduates Jeremy Ward and Matt Tabor, Focus Motel was formed last August. The band evolved from Brocket, Ashby and Ward’s original band, Fallen Parrot, which played a different style of music.“We decided to start a new kind of project,” Brockett said.Brockett describes Focus Motel as a balance between guitar andsynth, which refers to algorithm-generated electronic tones played through a keyboard.“It’s a dance rock kind of thing,” Brockett said. “But we definitely try to make it as musical as possible.”Focus Motel’s unique sound can be attributed to its wide range of musical influences. They pull keyboard influences from electropop band Lali Puna, vocal influences from the alternative rock band The Pixies and some guitar influences from singer and songwriter St. Vincent.
“It’s a nice hodgepodge of influences, but I think we’re all on the same page when it comes to influences,” Brockett said. “It comes together nicely.”
Focus Motel has played at venues such as Backspace, the White Eagle, Ella St. Social Club and Mississippi Pizza. Their song “Fire Door,” Brockett’s favorite, has even made it onto 107.1 KZME, an alternative radio station that emphasizes local music.
“It was really gratifying to hear it on the radio because it’s a lot of work,” Brockett said.
UP students may be most familiar with Focus Motel closer to campus.
“We played at a lot of houses around campus and it was a lot of fun,” Brockett said. “We have a really crazy time every time we do a house show, and we really like playing for UP guys because it’s always a lot of fun and they always come out and support really well and really get into the music.”[nggallery id=5]
The Harm’s start can be described as a musician’s version of love at first sight, when seniors Jeff Makjavich, lead vocals, and Joel Nightingale, lead guitar, were playing as The Gun Racks at the UP Coffee House last September.
“I walked in and saw these guys playing and I looked at them and said, ‘The Harm’,” junior Brendan Rice, the band’s drummer, said. “I told Jeff to get some tight pants and Joel to grow a mustache.”
It was with this love story and Makjavich and Nightingale’s joining with UP ’12 alumnus Drew Mclauchlan shortly after Coffee House that The Harm was formed.
“[Drew] came and blew our minds and the rest is history,” Makjavich said. “We all haven’t looked back.”
Makjavich describes The Harm’s sound as “swanky blues rock,” with Rice attributing the band’s classy sound to Makjavich and mean twist to Nightingale. Nightingale takes a unique approach in describing this mix.
“It’s a combination of smooth and crunchy,” Nightingale said. “It’s really like peanut butter.”
While each of the band members has different musical influences, they all share a rock band as their inspiration.
“The four of us totally love The Strokes,” Makjavich said. “But we only sound like them to a degree.”
When The Harm is not out playing or practicing their music, the band stills finds themselves making it all about music.
“Honestly, we go to Eastside Deli and talk about music,” Makjavich said. “It’s super nerdy.”
“We decided to offer [our EP] for free because it was more important to us that people could be exposed to and share our music, unhindered by the detriment of money,” Makjavich said. “But by offering to give the physical copy with donation, we give listeners the opportunity to also take part in the shared history of our musical journey.”
How did four science majors and a business major win UP’s Battle of the Bands last school year? Because, Science. That’s referring to the band, not to the explanation.
Last weekend, UP students had the chance to hear senior Celia Gendron and juniors James Lange, Brendan Rice, Michael Sather and Kirk Balbfleisch play as Because, Science at Pilots After Dark’s Fall Fest last weekend. However, some upperclassmen may remember the band’s start as part of a Villa Maria dorm tradition.
“James and I started playing music together when we put something together for the Man Auction,” Rice said. “We were called Sonic Death Monkey.”
Lange and Rice met Sather, bassist, from Villa, and soon after, Gendron, violinist and vocals, became a part of the band after meeting Rice through their Biblical Traditions class.
“We were studying one day and I started singing and he said you should just sing with us,” Gendron said.
According to Rice, it was more than Gendron’s musical talent that got her into the band.
“I thought her hair cut was cool too,” Rice said.
Balbfleisch, the drummer and lone business major of the band, became a part of the mix while taking lessons with Rice’s old drum teacher.
Gendron describes Because, Science’s sound as a mix of indie folk and rock because of the way they each draw inspiration from different bands. However, the band does have its shared influence.
“I think our biggest influence is the xx,” Rice said.
According to Lange, Because, Science got its name not only because all but one of the band members are some sort of science major but also because of one of the band’s inside jokes.
“It’s meant to be like an answer to an open-ended question. Like, ‘Why is the sky blue?’ Because, Science. It’s just something we can say a lot,” Rice said. “It’s also the first name that we came up with that everyone agreed with so we had to deal with it.”
According to Lange, the band has a noble goal.
“We’re not in it to be famous necessarily,” Lange said. “We’re just all about having fun.”
So what does this UP band do during their down time from band rehearsals?
“We do band sushi,” Lange said.
According to Rice, there is only one place they go.
“Sushiland,” Rice said. “It’s just so cheap.”
Discover UP bands
You can check out Focus Motel’s music on their BandCamp page: focusmotel.bandcamp.com Catch The Harm’s next performance at Ella Street Social Club on Friday, Oct. 12, or check out their BandCamp page at wearetheharm.bandcamp.com. If you choose to download their EP and donate $5 or more, The Harm will hand deliver a limited edition physical copy of the EP.