Almost everyone has fantasized, even if briefly, about being a musician, a high-energy lifestyle full of adoring fans and freedom is appealing to almost anyone with a sense of adventure. But the few who actually take the first step toward this dream by forming a band soon encounter the most difficult realization: that keeping a band together and making good music is much harder and less glamorous than daydreams make it seem.
Kinetic, a band composed of students and alumni of the College of William and Mary, can attest to the sacrifices that making music demands. They’re well-suited for handling each small but critical task necessary to the formation of a band. After all, students are no strangers to working hard and multi-tasking. In addition, they are in the kind of environment which encourages them to find and pursue dreams, since college is a safe haven that encourages curious musicians to explore their art.
Completing the recording of its first CD, “Get Your Heavy Load Off My Pack Mule,” was a milestone for the band in becoming a serious pursuit. Although recorded in 2010, it is still in the process of going through the final stages of production.
“We actually recorded the entire thing in our bedroom in our apartment, so it was a challenge. Most of it was done then and a lot of it was done after the final weeks,” Ryan Laney ’11 said.
The process of making a CD has required them to look at their music as a series of small tasks that must be organized, managed and handled with a lot of patience.
“It’s bit of a business effort on our end because we’re not sponsored right now and not part of a label,” said Laney. “But each of us has taken on an individual task, whether that be producing the CD or publicity.”
Kinetic started when Andy Principe ’10 (drums), Ryan Laney ’11 (keyboard) and Sam Davis ’10 (guitar) met through the College’s Wham Bam Big Band.
The three decided to start a separate collaboration, later adding bassist Joe Palamara ’11 and singer Jeff DeMars ’11 to complete Kinetic. Since then, the band has solidified and developed an active presence on campus, performing at events such as AMP Homebrews, Punk Rock Prom, AMP Battle of the Bands and various fundraisers for campus organizations.
“Its always fun to play on campus because you can get anyone around interested in you to come out and see you,” Laney said.
Although Williamsburg is not known for its lively rock scene, the band also had off-campus gigs, like those at the Corner Pocket restaurant in New Town.
“We’re looking for gigs outside of campus. We need to find places to play in order to pay back the cost of making music,” Laney said. “It’s tough, there aren’t that many places in Williamsburg.”
Despite limited performance opportunities, the band members said they are hooked on making music.
“I would say [Punk Rock Prom] was kind of a turning point for us,” DeMars said. “Having professional sound, a big stage to move around in and a lot of people there was something new that we all really wanted to continue.”
Since then, Kinetic has worked to expand its audience and become more professional. Another successful milestone was winning AMP’s Battle of the Bands last fall, which is an even more notable success considering that Principe and Davis are currently living in Washington D.C.
“We didn’t have that much time to rehearse,” Palamara said. “We had a big rehearsal the week before to the point that we had blisters. We told all our friends and kind of just went.”
With two members located outside of Williamsburg, the band keeps in touch via Skype and phone calls in order to maintain its work as a group, although they usually rehearse in person weekly or bi-weekly.
“We meet up on the weekends and spend all day, sometimes from two o’clock until 10…working and discussing plans from streamlining internet sites to press releases and bios, or paying for services and what not,” DeMars said.
Although maintaining the band is an arduous process, the small successes along the way keep their motivation extremely high.
“I’m just excited to see people’s responses,” Palamara said. “It’s great when we played the songs for our friends and they ask, ‘Who is this?’ and we get to say, ‘That’s us.’”
Although they have the album release to look forward to, the future brings yet another uncertainty graduation. On one hand, without classes and exams to study for, the group can focus all its effort on music. On the other hand, finding shows, funding and a fan base will be more challenging after leaving the college environment.
“We’re trying to spend the next year seeing how far we can go, working our asses off to promote this. Ideally, we’ll try that out and then keep going,” Palamara said.
Although they are optimistic about where the year will take them, they have back-up plans if Kinetic doesn’t work out.
“If it’s totally miserable after a year then we’ll just stop,” said Laney. “But if we’re still going strong then who knows. I know a lot of us have plans to do other things. I’ve always had grad school in the back of my mind.”
Even though keeping the band afloat while balancing work or school is time-consuming, the band still prides itself on having a carefree point-of-view.
“We take ourselves very seriously as a group and as musicians, but not really as people,” Laney said.
Although it requires more planning than daydreaming, Kinetic has already overcome its fair-share of challenges in order to accomplish what many only hope to do.
“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication from everyone, we all have to put in the hours recording and we are all doing our best to sound good,” DeMars said. “But being with the band I’ve learned that even when it comes down to disagreements we all still work together and support each other…It just works, we all want the same thing — to make good music.”
Kinetic expects a full release of its album mid-April, including vinyl, CD and digital recordings. MP3s will be available through Amazon, Rhapsody and iTunes digital music services.