New bands in Knoxville are either all mainstream or all indie rock depending on who's talking and where their loyalties lie. For those not enamored with the indie flux, there is Fifth Street Saints. To this modern rock quartet, it is all about accessibility, and the band looks to widen its appeal with the upcoming release of its debut EP "Reasons to Run."
The project began in the summer of 2010 upon finding the last pieces of the group in bassist Shane Hoosier and drummer Jeremy Arangio.
"Chad (Webb, guitarist) and I have been playing music together for about seven years in a couple of different bands," reflects vocalist/guitarist Eddie Self. "(We) searched high and low for a quality drummer and bass player. After many failed attempts we ended up finding Shane on Craigslist of all places. Jeremy has a studio at his house called Northview Studios. We went there to record a demo in May of 2010. We show up at the studio that morning, and there is this massive drum kit in the middle of the room. I asked him to show off a little if he wanted to, not really knowing what to expect, so he hops on his drums and blows us away with this amazing drum solo. Chad looked at me and said, 'I wonder if he wants a job.' "
With its lineup complete, the band wrote and performed for a year before entering the studio to record its first EP "Reasons to Run." Intent on making a splash from the onset, Fifth Street Saints took its talent to Travis Wyrick and Lakeside Studios for the project, turning out an ambitious five-track EP soon to be available in physical and digital form through Amazon, iTunes and other online outlets. In addition to shopping the release to labels, Fifth Street Saints also looks to see airplay and is already getting spins on 94.3 the X and 105.5 the Mix for its first single "Dirty."
"Recording with Travis Wyrick was probably the most challenging thing that I have ever done in my life," Self admits. "Travis pushed me harder than I could have ever dreamed. Imagine putting every word of a song under a microscope and choosing only the best words to apply to the recording. On top of that I had to pour pure emotion onto every word. Even my breathing was taken into consideration. We are very pleased with result, and we think that our fans will be too."
"Mike Dearing was the engineer behind all of the tracking, and he was an absolute pleasure to work with," adds Arangio. "We recorded 'Reasons to Run' in two blocks. The first block was primarily drum tracks. Mike and I dissected each song to give it the biggest groove possible. I can remember Travis constantly shouting the word 'Pocket!' which is the feeling that makes you want to dance or nod your head to the beat. Eddie, Chad and Shane still scream the word 'pocket' at me; to this day, I have nightmares."
Without any ambiguity in its determination to go big, the band will apply a definitive approach to spreading its name to the masses following the Dec. 10 release. In addition to bolstering live-outing visuals with a light show, The Saints will schedule shows that expand their appeal radially with Knoxville as ground zero, taking full advantage of the incremental word-of-mouth range.
"We respect both sides of the fence," says Hoosier regarding the indie vs. mainstream argument. "With the direction that we are taking, we wanted to dive in head first and make it as big as possible. In order to do that, we needed that big mainstream sound. When writing we always keep that in mind. ...
"We are using a strategy. Instead of jumping in a van and just hitting the road, we are going to try something different. Imagine you are looking at a map. Now draw a 100-mile circle around Knoxville. We are going to fill that circle with as many fans as possible. When we think that we have a strong following in that circle, we are going to draw a bigger circle possibly 200 miles. We want book a show and promote it properly instead of just showing up somewhere on the weekend and hoping that someone sees us."
"We want to exercise smart marketing," adds Webb. "A ton of bands are very talented but forget this aspect of the business. We want to make good business decisions as well as good music and we are merging into the scene very nicely. One thing I have noticed about the musicians here in Knoxville is everyone seems to have respect for each other, I guess because we are all trying to do this for a living and everyone knows how hard it really is, which is really cool. We haven't had a bad experience yet."
Fifth Street Saints perform at The Ciderhouse Saturday for the release of "Reasons to Run." They will be joined by Dead Language and Skytown Riot. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show costs $5. Fifth Street Saints will also play Relix Variety Theatre on Jan. 6 with Disarmed, Afterlife and Hey OK Fantastic.
© 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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