Archive for the ‘“on.” Feature’ Category

Feature: The Pretty Black Chains

October 1, 2010

Derek Knowlton, left, and Kellen McGugan practice behind Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa last weekend.

He went from a crowd of 1,600 to an audience of two in a matter of hours.

OSU alumnus and musician Kellen McGugan sat quietly in the passenger seat of his roommate’s dusty white Pontiac Grand Am Saturday. The two left Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa for home in Oklahoma City.

McGugan is the frontman of the Oklahoma City-based band The Pretty Black Chains. Hours earlier, the rock quartet opened for The Smashing Pumpkins on Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd.

McGugan’s music career rang at high note.

It would be cliché to say he was on top of the world, but the song pulsing through the speakers suggested otherwise.

Lyrics to the Nas song “The World is Yours” belched through the stereo and bass rattled seatbelts while McGugan lifted his skinny, 6-foot-tall frame and pushed his hands through the moon roof.

The rush of wind made the car sound like a rollercoaster.

“I sip the Dom P, watchin’ ‘Gandhi’ til I’m charged/Then writin’ in my book of rhymes, all the words pass the margin/To hold the mic I’m throbbin’, ” Nas rapped.

The music and the drive home to Oklahoma City was a quiet celebration for McGugan. His band performs in Stillwater 10 p.m. Friday inside of a garage at 4820 S. Country Club Road.

  • Show business

About a month ago, tickets went on sale for The Smashing Pumpkins show at Cain’s Ballroom.

It sold out in less than a day.

Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan chose one local band to open.

His selection was The Chains, so bandmates Derek Knowlton, Kurt Freudenberger, Jonathan Martin and McGugan performed in front of 1,641 people.

“I think everything I’ve done was a stepping stone to get there,” McGugan said in an interview.

His roommate spun records on two turntables in their apartment as he connected thoughts about the night he opened for a band that has sold millions of records.

“I’m just lucky to play with who I play with,” he said.

McGugan started hanging out with The Chains guitarist Knowlton two years ago, shortly after Knowlton’s now defunct band The Stock Market Crash dissolved. The same night the two surfed the Internet for a leather jacket, they wrote a song together.

“I can’t even remember the name of it,” McGugan said.

His remark reflected the dizzying pace of The Chains’ lifestyle. This summer, the band crafted two albums worth of new material. At Cain’s Ballroom, the quartet didn’t play a single song off “Ceremonies,” the band’s debut album which was released Saturday.

After the Tulsa show, empty plastic cups and aluminum beer bottles littered the Cain’s Ballroom dance floor: evidence of an enjoyable concert. The smell of stale beer lingered in the air as The Chains were bombarded with autograph requests, digital cameras and dozens of new fans.

The soft scratching of brooms against the hardwood dance floor contrasted with the loud, bustling effort the band made in order to arrive for a sound check earlier Friday afternoon.

  • On the Road Again

Jonathan Martin driving to Cain's Ballroom.


Led Zeppelin’s 1969 track “Dazed and Confused” blasted inside The Chains’ tan minivan. The trip from Oklahoma City to Tulsa on Friday was supposed to be a two-car adventure, but nine managed to squeeze into the seven-seat van.

The car lacked air conditioning.

Inside the van, Knowlton stripped to his shorts, the kind everyone’s dad wore in those old basketball photos from the ‘60s.

“I’m used to being hot and uncomfortable,” Knowlton said. “I’m in a band. It’s fun. It’s like family.”

Everyone clutched the top of the car when Martin turned sharply.

McGugan said Martin isn’t the best driver, but he can back up the trailer better than anyone.

The Chains drummer Freudenberger talked to a roadie sitting next to him in the van about the cost of playing two shows in a single weekend. He will lose about $300 in night shifts at Oklahoma City’s Café do Brasil.

“I not about money,” he said. “It’s about playing.”

He wasn’t the only member making a sacrifice last weekend.

The Chains bassist Martin left his fiancé at home. She’s about to have twins.

Knowlton skipped a few shifts at Warpaint Clothing Co., his store in Oklahoma City’s Plaza District.

However, the band arrived in Tulsa well before its sound check, but The Smashing Pumpkins practiced too long and The Chains forfeited a sound check.

“We’ll just have to sound check like we do at The Conservatory,” Freudenberger said.

  • Making and breaking records

On Saturday, the band did just that.

It was a slightly more intimate affair compared to the Cain’s Ballroom show. A couple hundred of the band’s fans crowded into the dilapidated Oklahoma City venue to celebrate the release of the band’s first album.

Knowlton frantically lit candles and hid incense sticks between speakers.

It helped rid the venue of its stagnant odor.

“I told you I’m OCD,” he said. “It’s our show and it’s going to smell like our show.”

Martin’s fiancé sat in the corner of the venue fanning her face and waiting to hear her husband perform.

After the show, a fan confronted McGugan. He held the “Ceremonies” album and said he missed hearing the old songs.

“We do, too,” McGugan said. “There’s just a time and a place for everything.”

As the two parted ways, Conservatory owner Jim Paddack surveyed the crowd and made an announcement.

“If you’re not with one of the bands, get out now,” he said.

That’s something The Pretty Black Chains will hear again.

Feature: Sherree Chamberlain

September 17, 2010

  • If you are over 21, check out the Sherree Chamberlain Band for free Friday night at 9 inside Eskimo Joe’s, 501 W. Elm Ave. Tulsa acts OK Sweetheart and Fiawna Forte are opening. This story ran in the Friday edition of The Daily O’Collegian and The Oklahoman.

It’s frightening how quickly breakfast can turn into bedlam.

On a rainy morning in early July, Oklahoma City-based songwriter Sherree Chamberlain was driving near the Paseo Arts District.

The Oklahoma State University alumna had a full day planned.

Breakfast with a friend. A paid gig in downtown Oklahoma City with Stillwater rockers Taddy Porter and The Flatland Travelers. Dinner with her soon-to-be manager.

While pulling across traffic, a car slammed into her and knocked her head against the driver’s window. Her car was totaled, and she was stuck in the rain with a car full of instruments.

When Chamberlain snapped back to reality, she said she didn’t want a doctor.

She wanted pizza.

Her bandmates, Eric Kiner, Jonathon Mooney and Joey Morris, heard what happened and got a hold of Chamberlain.

“I was like, ‘Are we going to play or not?’” Kiner said in a phone interview.

Chamberlain said she knew the ball was rolling. Her band was getting paid for playing. She needed to start saving cash for a new car.

“It made sense to play,” she said in a phone interview.

After a trip to an emergency room and an OK from a doctor, Chamberlain’s parents drove her to the Wormy Dog Saloon. As neon signs buzzed and beer bottles clinked, the Sherree Chamberlain Band flew through a set of several songs in front of about 300 listeners.

“Sherree’s insane,” Morris said with a laugh over the phone. “When she got that mild concussion, I couldn’t really tell the difference. She’s crazy anyway … It was the perfect show. We didn’t have time for rehearsal, and we played like she had rehearsed for hours.”

Fast forward through the summer to last Sunday.

The rainy afternoon and the allure of bed sheets delayed Chamberlain from an interview, but she quickly apologized for her tardiness and began detailing her active morning.

She worked on music and prepared for the two classes she started teaching at Edmond Santa Fe High School this semester, but she got overwhelmed and hit the hay again.

She said she’s having a “24-year-old meltdown.”

“I’m feeling so old, and I don’t know what’s going on. I’m having anxiety about everything,” Chamberlain said. “I’ve been listening to music I love, lately. I keep going, ‘I wish I could be in this band, or I wish I could be in that band. Why am I not writing music I love to play?’”

She’s balancing a lot, though, teaching classes and preparing for a sophomore album.

Her debut, “Wasp in the Room,” was a gentle folk album that embellished the singer’s talents and her simple, elegant songs.

After a visit to Stillwater on Saturday, she’s taking “a little step away from the cutesy pop singer/songwriter and a little bit more toward being a cohesive band and setting a mood.”

No matter what happens, music is going to be around Chamberlain.

She lets her students at Edmond Santa Fe listen to music while they work. One afternoon a student walked up to Chamberlain and wrapped headphones around her ears. It was her album playing.

Sometimes her students aren’t the biggest fans though.

“I heard one of them the other day go, ‘Miss Chamberlain, I downloaded your stuff off of LimeWire,’” she said.

Another kid asked what she sounded like. He responded with a review saying Chamberlain’s music is weird. Something you’ll either love or hate.

If her student’s review and a car accident won’t stop her from making music, little will.

Feature and video: Electric Beatdown

September 9, 2010

This story ran in the Thursday edition of The Daily O’Collegian

  • Meet the Beatdown

Valerie Hill encountered an uninvited guest after stepping onto the dance floor.

Hill, a creative writing senior, wasn’t worried because her boyfriend wasn’t too far away and dozens of dancers surrounded her. The stranger offered his hand to dance and she took it to soften the blow of the bad news.

“I have a boyfriend,” she yelled over the music.

The stranger wasn’t discouraged.

“So do I,” he said.

Hill said she laughed and they went their separate ways.

This is a scene from the Electric Beatdown, a weekly dance party at the Stonewall Tavern, 115 S. Knoblock St. It’s across the street from Oklahoma State University’s Seretean Center Music Hall, but the tunes at the Beatdown are a departure from anything OSU music majors perform.

Every Thursday night, OSU graduate Granger Brown, better known as Danger Granger, and Justin Laughlin, or Beatpunks, exit their day jobs to play music at the Beatdown. They’ve spun weekly since summer 2008.

“It’s one of the biggest parties in the state,” he said. “We will have people come and say there is nothing like this in New York or L.A.”

The Stonewall’s turnout on a Thursday night is huge. Although a crowd-size limit doesn’t exist in the outdoor portion of the bar, bouncers have to stop people at the door when the crowd is too big. The line can stretch to the street, roughly a block in distance.

  • Breaking Hearts and Picnic Tables

Not everyone enjoys the pulsating beats at the dance party.

Ask one of the several picnic tables that have met their demise at the Beatdown.

Dancers cause more damage to the Stonewall than the nastiest termite colony could ever dream of and watching a picnic table shatter is a spectator sport.

It starts with a slight wobble from the legs of the table and the knees of those dancing. Then there’s a noise similar to what you would hear after a lumberjack yells timber. The table snaps, falls and moves on to a better place.

“Have you ever heard the slogan?” Brown asked with a smile. “‘Breaking hearts and picnic tables since 2008.’ We are going to make it onto a shirt.”

He said he has seen this happen more than a few times.

“One night last summer, four broke,” Brown said. “I’m talking, like, break in half.”

He also said sometimes he can’t resist joining people on the tables.

“That’s part of my business,” Brown said. “I’m a hypeman. I like to get there and get people riled up.”

And the picnic tables that don’t break become center stage for some of the most ridiculous Beatdown stories.

Carson Jewell’s first night at the Stonewall ended on a picnic table. At least that’s what he remembered.

The evening started with some assistance from Tom Collins.

“It was the drink special that night,” Jewell said. “It’s great, but terrible.”

He climbed onto a picnic table and began dancing. He closed his eyes and was wearing an orange jump suit when his eyes opened. Everything between was a blur, he said.

He doesn’t remember being put in a holding cell at the Stillwater Police Station, but the police do.

Jewell said he was told  he walked into a moving police car.

  • What goes up must come down

The idea of people falling like dominoes on picnic tables didn’t seem believable until it happened in front of me.

A trio danced on a table and it busted, but the three weren’t fazed. Before the next song lyric left the subwoofers, each person found another table advertising more sturdiness and resumed fist pumping.

“It is funny when you see the people fall and they get on those tables and they break,” Laughlin said. “They get right back up. I guess it’s just the power of the Beatdown, man.”

A bartender walked past the shattered remains of the table. He shouted an obscenity, similar to the way an alarm sounds at a firehouse. Two more bartenders ran toward the mess and started carrying away pieces of the table away like a battalion of wounded soldiers.

“Picnic tables are the biggest causality,” he said. “They have been broken over and over again. When you throw a party that good, everything can’t go right.”

Joe Cervantes, Stonewall’s owner, does everything in his power to keep an eye on the madness and supply enough hammers and nails to repair picnic tables. He makes sure either himself or three bouncers are monitoring dancers. On Thursday nights, his staff balloons from three to about 12 workers.

After two years, the Beatdown continues to surprise Cervantes.

“As long it was above 45 degrees in the winter we’d still have it,” Cervantes said. “People show up in their coats and scarves and still go out there and dance. Just shows how fun a gathering of people it is.”

  • Working overtime

“It is the highlight of my week,” Brown says. “It’s pure energy.

“If I wasn’t doing the DJing, it would be an exotic vacation every week in town. It’s something different that takes you away, but I have to work.”

Laughlin and Brown have to be on their toes while in the crowd.

One night a girl climbed onto the subwoofer sitting next to him.  She jumped from the speaker onto the DJ booth, which is made to hold a turntable and not much else.

Brown said she screamed while Laughlin held the DJ booth steady.

“I don’t see how she didn’t fall,” Brown said.

She jumped from the booth into the crowd and continued dancing.

Brown hesitated before telling anymore crazy stories because of the nudity involved, but he couldn’t resist telling one story.

“I got flashed last (semester),” Brown said. “Not an attractive girl. I was sitting there DJing. And there’s a tap at the DJ booth. I look up and bam.”

As crazy as the Beatdown gets, the origins of the party are completely relaxed compared to DJing on a Thursday night.

Brown used to hangout inside OSU’s Paul Miller Journalism and Broadcasting Building and work on a KXZY radio show with Laughlin. Brown hadn’t used a turntable before the radio show started and did most of the talking while Laughlin spun the turntables.

Brown said he had only touched a turntable twice before the first Beatdown in 2008, but Laughlin was a good teacher.

“He’s an ambitious little guy,” Laughlin said. “Every time I DJ, I’ll show him different tricks. He’s like my protégé for DJing. Now, we’re the perfect pairing to make parties going. That’s what it comes down to.”

Laughlin, an Oklahoma City native, has been a DJ for about a decade. He spun in high school before leaving for California in 2002.

In Los Angeles, Laughlin would record dialogue for film, television and DVDs. If you have wondered who puts the commentary on DVDs and records the foreign language version of “Frasier,” then you should talk to Laughlin because he knows all about it.

Laughlin said the sagging economy lead him to Stillwater in 2006.

Brown asked Laughlin how to spin and the duo started working house shows together.

But they wanted their DJing to get bigger.

“Let’s throw a real party,” Brown said.

They did.

Feature: Orange Peel reels back this year

September 3, 2010

This story ran on the front page of the Friday edition of the O’Colly.

  • The day the music died

Jason Aldean’s guitar strumming inside Gallagher-Iba Arena last year might be the final sound heard at an Orange Peel for a while.

The longtime student-run concert series and pep rally is canceled for 2010. Since 1996, the OSU campus event has been canceled once in 2007 because of issues with talent.

Director of Campus Life Kent Sampson said the past 13 Orange Peels have lost roughly $210,000.

“Truthfully, we’ve never been into it to make money,” he said.

Sampson advised students, handled paperwork and helped manage Orange Peel since 1997. He said student volunteers needed to raise $100,000 from sponsors this summer in order to make an Orange Peel in 2010 possible.

“We didn’t make that happen,” Sampson said.

After looking at the amount of money needed and because of the Student Union remodeling, a big effort wasn’t undertaken to collect $100,000, Sampson said.

Profits from food and textbook sales at the Student Union provided the majority of backing for Orange Peel, Sampson said. Ticket sales and corporate sponsorships were the second source of revenue. Although Sampson said Oklahoma City’s Ford Center and Tulsa’s BOK Center made it difficult to attract performers to Stillwater, it was the lowering of ticket prices for concertgoers that became a big issue.

“In terms of trying to give our students a break, we undercut ourselves and hurt our income base,” he said.

Sampson said tickets were about $40 for Orange Peel in 2009, which is roughly $20 less than a show at the Ford Center or the BOK Center. In 2005 and 2006, the Oklahoma Chevy Team Dealer donated $30,000 to Orange Peel, which brought sponsorship amounts to $60,000 for those two years. The loss of Chevy as a donor made an impact, Sampson said.

But he said he doesn’t think Orange Peel will disappear. He named several student organizers throughout the years who made Orange Peel possible and illustrated how the event’s tradition has deep roots.

  • It takes a lot to make an Orange Peel grow

Angela Courtin stood inside Lewis Field (now Boone Pickens Stadium) in 1996, moments after Bill Cosby, Norm McDonald and Dog’s Eye View finished performing at Orange Peel’s debut.

The OSU graduate student sighed and looked to her friends.

“We pulled it off,” she said in a phone interview between meetings in Chicago. “We could walk on air. Was it the most successful show? Probably not, but the fact that we were able to bring it to completion in a way that we could be proud of was an enormous accomplishment.”

Courtin and dozens of student volunteers turned an idea for a pep rally before the football team’s season opener into an event 17,000 patrons attended. Without the assistance of a booking agency or prior knowledge of how to put on a concert, Courtin created big entertainment from scratch at Orange Peel.

“I look back at my career … and it certainly was this catapult to where my career would go,” Courtin said.

Today, she’s the senior vice president of integrated marketing at MTV, and she does almost exactly what she did for Orange Peel. Courtin is producing a live performance that will air during a commercial break of MTV’s 2010 Video Music Awards, which airs on Sept. 12.

Courtin said Orange Peel gave her skills to hustle and the opportunity to throw herself completely into something. She applied classroom lessons to the real world because Orange Peel operated like a tiny business. About 200 OSU students volunteered yearly within Orange Peel’s six committees, which ranged from stage production to marketing.

Since 2003, Orange Peel organizers used a booking agency to gather talent, but this didn’t make things much easier. The 2009 Orange Peel executive director, Kristen Kenaga, said she spent an hour a day for two months talking to Eric Hening Promotions to make sure everything was OK for Orange Peel.

Months of planning couldn’t prepare her for the surprise request of a special brew of Starbucks coffee the morning Aldean’s tour bus arrived. The coffee wasn’t for Aldean. His band had the power to request groceries, so Kenaga went shopping.

The demands of celebrities and their management turn concerts into work for hosts. The 2008 Orange Peel headliner, Sugarland, had a 35-page contract that detailed the brand of water the band drank, the exact number of Clif energy bars needed and the number of hand towels required for dressing rooms.

Erika Curry, Kenaga’s marketing director for 2009’s Orange Peel, spent 40 hours a week during her summer putting together radio ads, press releases and doing everything in her power to spread the word about Orange Peel. Her pace didn’t slow down when classes began. She spent weekends at rodeos and fairs handing out flyers.

“I can’t even put a number on it,” Curry said. “Hundreds if not thousands of hours.”

Sampson said Orange Peel in 2009 lost roughly $75,000. It hadn’t broken even since Bill Engvall and Alan Jackson performed in 2006, but the event did succeed in supporting charities such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Special Olympics. The past two Orange Peels raised about $16,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

“Whether Orange Peel continues or not, it will always be a great OSU tradition,” Kenaga said.

Feature: Colourmusic columnist calls local musicians to arms

September 1, 2010

Colin Fleishacker playing at a Stillwater house show.

This column was written by Colourmusic bassist Colin Fleishacker. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a journalism degree in news-editorial. Also, he knows how to rock.

In August 2001, I was a terrified and excited freshman at Oklahoma State University. Terrified because I was alone for the first time in my life without my mother’s guiding hand, and excited because I was alone for the first time in my life without my mother’s guiding hand.

Throughout my college career, my life changed. I think everyone who is in college or has graduated from a university can agree that it is a life-altering experience, if one allows it to be.

Though most can relate to this statement, my metamorphosis came from a place outside of classrooms and textbooks: My alteration manifested from local music.

In 2001, Stillwater was a different beast than it is today. When I walked to class, I stepped on sidewalk chalkings informing those who cared of frat parties with Cross Canadian Ragweed and the Red Dirt Rangers headlining at the Wormy Dog Saloon.

Red-dirt country music ruled this fair city with a cattle-prod-filled fist.

Most of these red-dirt groups have gone on to play their music for the masses in bigger cities across the country, and Stillwater should be proud to have helped nurture them.

Having said that, for a freshman living in a musical world populated by Radiohead, The Strokes and Sigur Ros, this was utter torture.

From left is Nic Ley and Colin Flieshacker of Colourmusic. The air conditioning obviously wasn't working well.

Even on the “rock” side of the Stillwater music scene, things were just as bleak nine years ago. There was but one band with any prominence: The All-American Rejects. Blah.

Fast-forward nearly a decade to the local indie-music scene we live in today.

Other Lives, formerly known as Kunek, is recording its third full-length and Mayola is readying the release of its debut album.

Deerpeople recently released its first E.P., and Colourmusic, which I am proud to be a member of, is releasing its sophomore album internationally in early 2011.

Not too bad for a town immersed in country music nearly a decade ago, right?

Well, kind of.

I’m proud to have helped create a worthwhile music scene in this town, but one thing is definitely missing: new blood.

There was a period of roughly four years, let’s say from 2004 to 2008, where at least one new band emerged annually, enlightening listeners with eclectic shades of local independent music.

Well guess what? The artists who were a part of that four-year period are still doing what they do best. The only problem with this statement is that they’re the only ones doing anything musical in this town.

The last new band I can remember someone telling me to listen to was Deerpeople. That was two years ago.

Where the hell are the new bands in this town? I’m ready for someone to aurally assault me with a new sound created by someone who isn’t over the age of 22.

Come on kiddos, I know you’ve got it in you. It’s a good thing to play in front of people. Don’t be shy.

This column is not just an opinion, but also a call to arms to all the musicians on this campus.

We’ve come a long way from the pearl-snap western shirt days of 2001, and now it’s up to you to make sure we don’t lose what little we have to call a music scene in this town.

Get out there and play. It will change your life. I promise.

Feature: Chris Harris of Depth & Current

August 27, 2010

Norman native Chris Harris, 36, standing in his studio Hook Echo Sound. He has worked sound at numerous Oklahoma venues and recorded dozens of local artists.

Nice People making music

Chris Harris thinks small.

So, why does the audio engineer’s resume include recording a Flaming Lips album and performing with his unabashedly loud rock quintet Depth & Current?

It’s because the Norman native started early.

Harris, 36, began recording sounds as soon he got his hands on a clunky tape recorder at age 9. Today, he spends his time inside a storage area turned studio space named Hook Echo Sound in Norman. Harris will visit Stillwater to perform his frontman duties for Depth & Current at 9 p.m. Friday inside a house at 106 S. Lewis St.

He said the concert is part of an effort to build buzz for his band, which is something he normally helps other musicians do. If he’s not recording or putting to use the dozens of instruments littering his studio, then Harris spends his time on his record label Nice People, which offers free downloads of local artists’ home recordings and other songs.

“I’ve seen so many bands that I really love, that have tons of promise, die on the vines just sitting and waiting for somebody to come around and do them a favor,” Harris said. “In the end, it’s better to think small, and I’d much rather see these bands have wild local success than sit around forever and never have any success.”

And Harris isn’t one to sit around. Right now he could name several music projects he’s developing, from setting up local concerts to putting the finishing touches on a Christmas album.

Depth & Current released the EP “Arms” last year and is almost ready to premiere its biggest recording effort. Literally, the 7-inch vinyl dwarfs the band’s EP in size. Harris said he has plans to make the vinyl special. He employed his recording protégé Seth McCarroll to help paint the covers of the first 100 copies of the album.

Harris has worked with all of McCarroll’s bands.

“He’s an encyclopedia,” McCarroll said. “I can ask him any question and he knows the answer … I’m glad that he’s here. He’s done a lot for the music scene in Norman and the surrounding area.”

Depth & Current hanging out in its studio space.

The running joke

Harris thinks small, but he dreams big.

Every year he said he used to have a running joke with his wife. All he wanted for his birthday was for Flaming Lips multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd to walk into his house and play drums for an hour.
“I don’t even want to record it or anything,” Harris laughed. “I just want to watch him play.”

Ever since Harris heard the 1990 Flaming Lips album “In a Priest Driven Ambulance,” he knew he wanted to record bands. In 2009, Norman audio engineer Trent Bell needed to secretly record the Flaming Lips and Oklahoma City rockers Stardeath and White Dwarfs while they covered the classic Pink Floyd album “Dark Side of the Moon.” Bell asked Harris to help.

After sitting around for hours while the recording session began, Harris eventually started placing microphones on drums and Drozd walked into Hook Echo Sound.

“Next thing I know, he sits down next to the drums,” Harris said. “My head goes crazy.”

That was it.

That was the moment Harris joked about for years. Drozd started playing and Harris kept his face next to the drums.

Harris said it was the most “sonically visceral experience ever.” Today, he doesn’t know what he wants for his birthday.

“And I don’t know what to really shoot for in the studio anymore,” Harris said. “I’ve done what I’ve wanted to do. I can just sort of retire now.”

About a decade ago, Harris was living in a farm house in Amber with his wife Krystal Bilon. She would travel often, so Harris would plug in his guitar and practice recording until 3 a.m. He did need some sleep before starting his day job at a phone company.

But in 2000, Harris moved to Norman and started recording other bands. Recording became his day job and his home was the studio.

“When he recorded on the weekends, I just hung out upstairs,” Bilon said. “I am a great sleeper so I can sleep through drum and guitar tracking.”

Musicians take a lot of smoke breaks, so Bilon, 35, always had a chance to get food. She said she’s happy the studio space has moved out of her home and into Hook Echo Sound. She’s extremely proud of her husband’s dedication.

“Because of him, I feel like we are truly part of the community,” Bilon said.

From left is Derek Lemke, Chris Harris and Scott Twitchell of Oklahoma band Depth & Current inside Hook Echo Sound. The group rehearses inside the studio space.


Putting the band back together

Band practice doesn’t always involve smoke machines and amps.

Instead of practicing, sometimes Depth & Current will converge at Blu, a trendy bar in Norman, to talk about music and band matters.

Not much separates the band.

Scott Twitchell and Colin Ingersol have been playing with Harris for several years as members of the now defunct Subatomic Pieces. Twitchell and Ingersol started their music careers with piano lessons, but quickly moved on because of parents with musical interests. Ingersol’s folks were into church and gospel music. Twitchell’s mom was into surf punk rock such as the song “Wipeout.”

Everyone, including newer band members Derek Lemke and Joey Powell work day jobs before they can start rocking. And they all share a similar reason for enjoying Depth & Current.

“The thing I most like is playing with the guys,” Lemke said. “They’ve all been in bands I was into … before I actually started playing in bands.”

Depth & Current has spent the last year playing in local festivals and record stores. The band occasionally travels to play out of state. Harris said it’s going to take work and not luck to make it in music, but he has hope.

“I believe in this band 100 percent,” Harris said. “I think if we had one of those good luck opportunities where the right person saw us, and we got a chance to play for someone to help us out then this band could be huge.”

Harris said he’s not expecting this to happen, but he knows what can occur if he doesn’t give up.

Small or big, he will do his own thing.