Monday, January 13, 2014

My Favorite Unsigned Band - Hey Sandy

In another life I was a Sales Manager that spent a good amount of time on the road with my sales reps.  That meant that I attended every industry trade show from Chicago to Boston to North Carolina.  One of my favorites was Columbus, OH.  It is a fun college town, and I liked our sales rep in this area (Which isn't always a luxury in this business).

The Salesman was a music guy so we had a lot in common.  He had even set up a small recording studio above his garage for his 14 year old son that he would bring to the shows with him.  I liked to talk music with him as well.  I had just gotten into Death Cab for Cutie and he was the first to tell me about The Postal Service.  The kid had good taste for 14.

That same year, while travelling by taxi, he had accidentally left his entire CD collection in the back of a cab.  They were lost.  Knowing that we had similar tastes, myself and a co-worker had promised to burn him some discs.  Discs of things he had lost and some things he might like.

Over the next couple of weeks I would send him discs and he would mail some back to me.  He introduced me to At The Drive-In and The Mars Volta.  We talked about Ryan Adams and My Chemical Romance.

It was right around that time that he had started a band with his school mates.  He would be the lead singer and they called themselves Hey Sandy.  Surprisingly, it wasn't a fad and they kept with it.   Within a year or two they won a local battle of the bands.  Of course it was partially on musical merit, but the crowd was won over by its front man, Josh Bolin.  He was a straight and shy kid but when the music started he came out of his shell, much like I picture Ian Curtis at the start of his career.  He was a force.  And people recognized it.

As winners they were given studio time and armed with 12 originals they went in and recorded their first demos entitled K.

They were 14 to 16 years old and they were recording.  It was a great first effort with limited studio time.  It was adolescent yet complex at the same time.  They wore their influences.  They did local gigs with recording artist Colour Revolt.  But even more than that, it was a glimpse of what was to come.

They continued to play and record even after they started to head of to college.  It became increasingly difficult as their colleges took them further away from home.  During break they put together a 5 song EP entitled, You Brought Me Here.

This time, at college ages, their sound had matured.  Even the bleak but somehow magical imagery of the front cover speaks volumes as to their transformation.  You could hear their influences but their sound was their own.  They were five solid songs, messing with time signatures and flirting with new genres like alt-country.  This is track 5, You Brought Me Here.

It's when they hit track 3, Black Hole, that they are hitting their sound and you start to see it.

The years of being band mates and friends and growing up together were starting to really pay off.  They were maturing and so was their sound.  The many live dates they played were taking them to the next level.

Track 4, Restless List, is my favorite.

The first time I heard this song I got the chills.  The lyrics were beyond their years.  Their sound was much older than they were.  So was the pain.  You get the feeling that their chops hadn't quite developed in a way that they could show completely what they were capable of.  Only time could do that.

Shortly after this, time and space made it difficult for them to continue.  They played a few for more shows and bid adieu.  It's quite sad actually.  These boys were meant for music and all of this was over before drinking age.  I hope that music finds them.  For our sake.  This is what music is supposed to do to us.

I'll see you when the next needle drops!


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