BASIE following musical passions through Tri-State scene
HUNTINGTON — There is a lot of local music being created in Huntington and the Tri-State, yet few bands are making the modern-sounding, layered alt-pop of the group BASIE. As a trio featuring Kyle Grass on guitar, synthesizer and vocals, Daniel Grass on drums and Bradley Hager on bass, the band adds atmospheric sounds and modern beats to its mix.
All three members of BASIE grew up in Huntington. Brothers Kyle and Daniel Grass met Hager along the way in the Tri-State music scene and decided to make original music that is bright, fun and contemporary.
“I think our sound is definitely indie pop music,” Kyle Grass said. “We create a lot of pre-production using a program called Ableton Live (a software music sequencer), and we use it to program synthesizers and percussion which helps us to make a full sound when we play with it onstage. All three of us were highly influenced by bands from the early 1990s and late 1980s. We are all fans of ‘Back to the Future’ and that vibe. I’ve listened to that stuff my whole life as my parents graduated in the 1980s. So I grew up hearing Huey Lewis and The News and similar bands. We took that music and added the influence of current pop culture and are trying to merge it all. The 1980s sound is what I love the most to play on the guitar.”
One of BASIE’s biggest influences is the music of the late David Bowie.
“When I was growing up, my Dad always loved the Bowie song ‘Let’s Dance,’” Grass said. “Because of that, I have had that guitar line in my brain since I was in the fifth grade. That
style of funk and R&B guitar has been an inspiration for me. That has also translated to my little brother on drums as well. I’m influenced on the guitar by John Mayer and the various guitar players in Bowie’s groups over the years.”
When choosing a band name, as in the case of BASIE, a happenstance moment proved to be the inspiration.
“Bradley and I were in Charleston one day in a parking garage,” Grass said. “And, we happened to see a music memorabilia display and Count Basie’s jazz orchestra had played somewhere in Charleston at some point. There was a kick drum head on the poster that just said ‘Basie’ on it. I looked at it and said, ‘Dude, that would be cool if we called ourselves that if we ever started a band.’ We kept that idea this whole time because it just was a simple and cool name. It is easy for people to remember.”
Currently, Kyle Grass is a marketing communications major at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Hager is enrolled at a recording institute in Nashville, and Daniel Grass in a student at Marshall University studying computer and software engineering.
BASIE has only been together for a little over a year, so the future looks good as more music is recorded and they tour more consistently. While they are atypical as far as the sound they make compared to most Mountain State bands, they are determined to find their niche in the scene by making music with an edge.
“We definitely don’t have a sound that West Virginia generally represents, but it is cool for us to put the state on the map in a different way,” Grass said. “We definitely embrace the culture of our area. ... But we also follow our own passions and tend to not conform. Not ... others conform, either, as they are doing their thing, and I admire it incredibly. But, it can be hard to get people to listen to our alt-pop in the Tri-State area as probably the majority of people listen to country music. I love country music, too, but my writing style is more in the pop culture vein. We hope that our music resonates with people and will get folks in other parts of the country to come and hear music in West Virginia for a different reason.”
Basie will bring their alt-pop grooves to the V Club, 741 6th Ave, Huntington, for a benefit show for the Ronald McDonald House at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 3. Also on the bill are The Dividends, The Karpet Dabs and Shenanagram. The concert is ages 18 and up, and a $10 donation is suggested at the door. Find more information at http://www.vclublive.com.