The up-and-coming Grand Rapids band will stage a CD-release show Thursday at The Pyramid Scheme after its frontman spent two ‘grueling’ years recording the debut album. Check out the story, videos.THE BAND: Conrad Shock & The Noise
THE MUSIC: Fetching garage rock that charts new territory in blues, soul and folk
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE BAND: 8 p.m. Thursday at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids with The Zannies and Devin & The Dead Frets
The debut album from Grand Rapids’ Conrad Shock & The Noise has a long and arduous history – and more than a few unusual twists.
Frontman John Conrad Schaak, 22, started writing songs for the project while in high school, first performed them live as the duo HENF and eventually spent “two extremely long and grueling years” recording the rock-edged material at Mark Rehl’s The Center of the Universe Studios.
It was only after the album was completed that Shock actually formed a band to play music that he views as “simultaneously creating and destroying traditional blues, folk and soul.”
“I just want to create something that sounds like you have heard it a million times, and at the same time, make something that sounds like it is encroaching on new territory,” says Schaak, a multi-instrumentalist who’s attending Aquinas College for a double major in music and business.
“I want my music to be raw, but clean. I want chaos, but structure. I want groove and enough syncopation to make your head spin. My music is really all about spectrums and how I can fit all of the extremes in a single song without totally botching it.”
Suffice to say, the album that emerged, “Red Skys and Pyrrhic Minds,” accomplished that in impressive fashion, reflecting influences as wide-ranging as The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack White and Rage Against the Machine. Schaak ended up playing all the instruments on the album except for violin and saxophone.
“I had a finished album for a band that disbanded and I wasn’t sure quite what to do with it,” he concedes.
Eventually, he formed Conrad Shock & The Noise with some fellow Aquinas students – guitarist Michael Pierce (Long Term Access), pianist Olivia Vargas (who has her own solo album) and drummer Bailey Budnik. He met bassist Chris Foote (Ars Nova) at an open-mic night.
The band made its on-air debut this week for Local Spins Live on News Talk 1340 AM (WJRW), performing some original material and talking about its music. Watch the video for “Murphy’s Law” here, with the video for the band’s on-air performance of “Reach Back in Time” below.
VIDEO 1: Conrad Shock & The Noise, “Murphy’s Law” (Local Spins Live)
Conrad Schock & The Noise host the CD-release show for the new album at 8 p.m. Thursday at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids, with The Zannies and Devin & The Dead Frets also on the bill. Tickets for the all-ages show are $7 in advance or $10 day of show. Doors open at 7 p.m.
“We are doing our best to build as many lasting bonds as we can with both the Grand Rapids and Michigan music scenes,” Schaak says. “We just want to play more festivals and shows, and eventually tour to share the music with as many people as we can.”
Initially inspired by the protest-propelled music of bands such as Rage Against the Machine, Rancid and The Vandals, Schaak eventually discovered The Black Keys, Cage the Elephant, White Stripes and Arctic Monkeys.
“I was hooked from the minute I heard it,” he says. “They took the angst I loved in punk and put it in their tone rather than their lyrics or composition.”
That also helped spark even more creative energy from the ever-prolific Schaak.
“I have at least two albums’ worth of songs scattered about my room on scrap pieces of paper,” he says. “As long as my lungs have air in them, I’ll keep writing, recording and performing. I just want to give my all, be honest with my music and let the universe decide where that lands me.”
VIDEO 2: Conrad Shock & The Noise, “Reach Back in Time” (Local Spins Live)
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