By Kristi Kates
The Lucas Paul Band are Ann Arborites at heart, but often make Traverse City their temporary home away from home, at least on stage.
We have and always will have plans to come up to Traverse City frequently because we get the best love up here of anywhere, says the bands namesake Lucas Paul, hands down.
The band is comprised of Pete Birchler on lead guitar, Bobby Streng on sax, Mark Damian on drums, Matt Henninger on bass, and Paul on rhythm guitar and lead vocals,
In early 2006, Paul explains, he was a lost soul - freshly out of college, but with no job prospects and no band.
I would frequent Goodnite Gracies in downtown Ann Arbor every Wednesday and Thursday to watch local blues prodigy Laith Al Saadi, he explains, and every night found myself staying until last call because his band was that good.
After months of persistent begging to Gracies manager, Terry Martin, Paul got a shot to perform before one of Al Saadis shows.
Eventually, Laith handed me a few gigs of his own that he couldnt take, Paul says, so I put a band together. After getting our foot in the door, other nightclubs became interested in what we had to offer.
Pauls band quickly became a popular draw - as a cover band, playing other musicians songs. But, as he says, it soon became apparent that something was missing.
I had done some songwriting slowly but surely over the years, Paul says, so I approached my guitar player, Pete (Birchler), about the tunes. He committed to the production aspect of the album, and I was in charge of songwriting.
Recorded and mixed at Birchlers own home in Detroit, that delegation resulted in the bands first album, Hello Again, which was released in December of last year. Paul describes it as a mash up of Paul Simon, The Beatles, Maroon 5, and maybe a touch of Stevie Wonder. A quick listen confirms most of Pauls take on his bands sound, although perhaps more leaning toward the Maroon 5/Paul Simon side of things, with Pauls vocals being most reminiscent of Aussie musician Ben Lee. Its quite a pop sound for a musician who says his own skills were honed via one of country musics best-known artists.
I have to admit that I learned to play the guitar by playing along with Garth Brooks music back in grade school, Paul chuckles, but I am also hugely influenced by the Nirvanas and Pearl Jams of the world. In college I was on the Dave Matthews Band wagon, and as of late have been listening to anything from Mumford and Sons to bluegrass and folk.
Currently promoting Hello Again with a small lineup of original shows - including a stop at TCs Union Street Station - The Lucas Paul Band may venture out of state to play a few shows one of these days, but dont count on that being any time soon. Theyre perfectly happy in Michigan.
Home base is and always will be Ann Arbor for us, he says, three out of the five of us went to school here and live here, and all of us have roots here. It is such a diverse, vibrant town with great food, entertainment, and art. We have not made a big push to tour - yet - as we are all very busy. Its a tough thing to do, and I praise all musicians that go on the road to get their music out there; Im hoping someday well be able to do this.
Now that they have the record finished, Paul continues, they need to actually do something with it, hence the live shows. While he jokingly fears what he calls the train wreck on stage - that familiar band-mistake phenomenon that happens occasionally during a live performance - Paul still looks forward to showcasing the bands new music in front of the bands fans, old and new.
I think were all still in shock that it actually got done, he laughs, but nothing makes me happier on stage than when the crowd reacts with the same or greater energy than we are giving them through music.
The Lucas Paul Band will be performing at Union Street Station in TC this weekend, May 20 and 21 at 10 p.m.. For more info on the band, visit www.lucaspaulband.com.