Although a number of local bands have seen their fair share of success and fanfare during the past year, perhaps none has done so in such a quiet, yet public manner as My Solstice. The band has cruised just below the public radar until just recently, however, building upon a solid fan base and a growing repertoire of songs. Granted, My Solstice did just win the "Up and Coming Band" award in UTW's Absolute Best of Tulsa awards (which was decided by the votes of our readers).
With all due respect, though, it's past time for Tulsa to take notice. Since the group made its full band debut a year and a half ago and released its first EP Beyond the Horizon in June of 2007, My Solstice has sold a couple thousand copies of the disc while playing locally on a regular basis and building its following with limited regional touring. Along the way, the group has opened for bands as diverse as Sparta, Switchfoot and Sick Puppies. It landed singles on the 2007 DFest compilation and The Edge's 2008 Homegroan CD, made a cameo on the CBS "reality" television show Wife Swap and earned showcase spots on consecutive DFest events.
As the band views things, these experiences were stepping stones for what's to come. As lead singer Brandon Davis told me, "We accomplished so much on just six songs. How much more should we be able to do with the new record?"
A New Season
The group has evolved during the past year and a half as membership has shifted and the band has found its identity. Shortly after recording Beyond the Horizon, My Solstice saw bassist Todd Shaver leave the band to join Congress of a Crow. Tom Pritner filled the slot, bringing an additional swing to the band's compositions as he attacked the instrument from a guitarist's point of view.
Most recently, after completing the latest disc, Persistence of Vision, founding drummer Ely Gattenby left to fill the drum position in (yet again) Congress of a Crow. The significance of that transition isn't lost on the remaining members, however. In fact, it's all the more ironic as former Congress skinsman Nathan Lindley recently stepped in to fill the void.
"Nate definitely brings a new life to our live shows," guitarist Dustin Howard expressed emphatically, a sentiment that has been shared by many fans who have witnessed either (or both) of Lindley's two appearances to date with the band.
"We've jammed with Nate for a month now and the vibe just keeps getting better," Davis shared, with agreement from the rest of the band. "The trust is definitely there."
And the commitment is there as well, according to Lindley. As long time friends and brothers in arms, the rest of the guys in My Solstice are understanding, yet ready to get the machine up and running again with Lindley on board and a new CD in hand. "I'm excited where we're headed," said Howard in anticipation. "We've got nowhere but up to go."
Focus on the Horizon
That statement might seem foreign to other bands that are yet to see similar successes, but My Solstice's vision hasn't changed during the past year.
"The biggest thing to focus on," said Davis, "besides the markets we've already established, is to work on radio--to get this record on satellite and college and internet radio. There are a lot of Midwest stations that are not part of Clear Channel or a big conglomerate. If we can get in at a few of those stations, it can start to grow."
"The major labels may be dead, but radio is not," Howard chimed in emphatically. "If a station has a listenership of 40-50,000 and you get even five spins a week, who knows how many people may hear your song?"
"It's all about name recognition," continued Davis. "Five spins a week may not be much, but there are still people that hear your song. If they see your flyer and know the name, there's a better chance they'll come to the show."
In a landscape that has turned to shun record labels and anything deemed commercial, it's somewhat refreshing to interact with a band that understands the dynamics of the marketplace and isn't afraid to tackle the machine for fear of being labeled a sell-out.
Fellow UTW music writer Josh Kline wrote, "These guys make commercial modern rock look good (as much as that's possible). Though they've been around for a few years, they're just starting to hit their stride and now's the perfect time to honor them with the 'up-and-comers' award. The sky's the limit from here."
While Kline's comments were apropos, it wasn't lost on the band that they were also somewhat backhanded. Somewhere along the line, terms like "commercial" and "pop" have become dirty words when, in fact, they originally meant to convey the fact that a band or its music was popular and getting airplay in the mainstream marketplaces, not just independent and college radio.
Although the band's sound has been polished to a radio-ready sheen, don't make the mistake of lumping My Solstice in with bands like OKC natives Hinder. "We like to have fun and party, but we also want to talk about shit that matters," said Davis.
"The last record had songs like 'Pass By' and 'Art of Growth' and 'Rock Bottom,' which all had a positive message to better yourself," he explained. "With the next record, we've expanded on that. It might come off as political at times, but that's only one facet of the social consciousness we're trying to convey."
"The thing is," Lindley added, "Brandon has a message--and it's nice to play with a singer who has a message and believes what he's saying."
A few simple love songs are thrown in for good measure, ala "In the Clouds" and "Agenda Worth Revealing." But even those are introspective, hinting at the message of self expression and realization that "Separation of Mind and State" hammers home to close the disc.
In the end, everything comes full circle and revolves back to the band's origins. "The meaning of solstice," Davis reiterated, "is a changing or a turning point-an evolution or an emotion. By putting 'My' in front of it, it just makes it more personal.
"One girl I met was a cutter and she told me she felt like one of the songs on the last disc helped her get through some things. That's what this is all about. It's not 'my' solstice; it's his solstice and her solstice and whoever else the music speaks to."
A Launching Point
Essential to My Solstice moving forward is the release of the band's latest CD. The CD release party for Persistence of Vision is Saturday, August 9, at the Blue Dome Diner on 2nd Street. Doors open at 7pm and the show will start at 8pm with openers Your Final Thought, Max and the Marginalized, Motive For Movement and On Wings of Wax. Admission is $10 and includes a copy of the CD at the door.
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