MaineList Article: Soundbender


Finally, a band capable of delivering a powerful rock performance without the egos and attitudes. In fact, Soundbender might be more easily recognized as a social group of guys who’s entertaining qualities begin long before they hit the stage.

Club Mirage FavoritesI met up with Soundbender on numerous occasions throughout the summer at Club Mirage in Old Orchard Beach. Chris and Eryn Steele, owners of Club Mirage and Oasis, have both favored Soundbender from the first time they saw the band, and keep the band on a steady booking schedule throughout the summer months in Old Orchard.

“This is my favorite band! I just know that Soundbender is gonna go places. In my honest opinion, these guys are the best band in Maine!” Says Chris Steele, who is always present at their shows. Chris typically runs “Oasis”, the club next door, leaving “Club Mirage” for Eryn to look after. But when Soundbender comes on stage, Chris is right there enjoying the band’s company and applauding like any other guest in the room.

Everyone at Club Mirage loves the band. “They have really great energy and a fabulous vibe.” Examined Veronica, one of Mirage’s lovely bartenders. Veronica has seen many bands come through the club and agreed wholeheartedly that Soundbender is one of the top original acts to perform there.

Cardboard PeopleWhen I first met the band, they were loading their equipment into the bar. One of the memories that stands out the most for me was when they pulled out a tiny little mini-bike which they refer to as “The Bender Bike”. I found it amusing as I watched Jesse, the band’s front-man vocalist / guitarist, buzzing around on this ridiculously small bike.

The guys in the band are never short on fun. On slower nights, members of the band will sometimes round up the life size cardboard cutouts that the club uses to advertise brands like “Sam Adams” and position them on the dance floor to act as a fill-in audience. Despite the silly nature of it all, the room seems to benefit from that element of comic relief from time to time.

JordanOff-stage, the guys are positive, friendly people, easy to hold a conversation with, and always interested in making new friends. But, once they get on the stage, their music and stage presence immediately animate the room, bringing the listener to a new place. These guys start and finish their sets with a lot of energy. Rotating, turning, bouncing, springing, leaping, bopping and jolting in every direction imaginable.

The most lively performer has to be Jordan, on bass. As a photographer, I have had great difficulty capturing good shots of him, because he is constantly moving. Not just his body, but also his facial expressions. It’s awesome to see this energy if you’re standing in the audience soaking in the show, but as a photographer, it’s a nightmare! Yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d rather struggle for good photos then to see a bass player standing motionless on stage.

“Photographers always tell me that.” Said Jordan, during our interview. He knows what he’s doing, and the band all understand the importance of putting on a good show. A big part of what makes Soundbender stand out amongst their peers are these stage antics. You really have to see them live to understand exactly what I’m talking about.

Parallel MotionDrew, the band’s lead guitarist, also puts on a lively show. Between backup vocal parts, Drew is also bopping around and thrashing his guitar all over the place. Sometimes, you’ll see Jordan and Drew rockin out in animated harmony with their guitars in parallel motion.

The rhythm section is solid during their performance too. You would think all of that motion would throw the clock off, but thanks to John’s precision technique on drums and the band’s close attention to structure, they are able to pull of a star performance every time.

Jesse is not short on moves either, but as to be expected from the lead vocalist, you can’t sing and play guitar and be all over the place. Jesse’s presence comes more from his expressions and emotions on the microphone. You can tell by watching, that these guys are feeling their music. Jesse helps package it all together by delivering a sense of sincerity behind his vocal impression.

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Lovin Every Minute Of ItThe band really loves the musician lifestyle. Whether it’s playing on stage, working the crowd, traveling, or whatever. “If we played seven nights a week, we’d still have a blast! We just love to play!” Explained Jordan. I don’t think the band would ever get bored or grow tired of the lifestyle, they do it without effort.

“Every night that we go out, we try to have a party. We meet people we wouldn’t ever expect to meet.” Jordan continued to explain. “Once, we met a girl who wanted us to play in Brazil!” And I’m sure they’d do it too, if it made economical sense.

Each of Soundbender’s members seem to have a positive outlook on their position with the band. I can tell that they are proud of their achievements, and aspire to take it as far as they can.

There’s a certain closeness between each member that seems to stem back to childhood. I wondered how they manage to keep it so positive. How do they stay so close and project such a positive image for themselves as a band? I mean, everyone experiences chaos, how do these guys deal with it?

Family Support“We huddle before every show.” They answered together. They prepare for the show as a band, bringing it together as a group, rather than allowing each other to deal with daily chaos on their own. This is the band’s way of removing the unwanted negative energy from their public appearances.

“We will often remind ourselves in these huddles “why” we are doing this.”

“We are really just a bunch of goof-balls out to have fun with everyone.” Jordan said proudly. Unashamed of being different, and bold enough to make it a statement. Isn’t that what rock music is all about?

The guys have had a lot of support from each of their own families throughout their seven years together. “We wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of all of our families. The “Gladu” family has been a tremendous supporter.” The band was quick to add.

“Once our van caught fire on the way to a gig. We were on our way to “The Station” to open for “Sick Puppies” in the month of February. It was John’s parents who came to bail us out of that mess!”

Lyrical OutletBut good times and laughter are not the only emotion that the band experiences, as their lyrics might reveal. Unlike their uplifting energy, these guys are singing about real things. Experiences endured, become themes for inspired lyrics, often divulging in each other’s own tribulations to paint the canvas of their own creative lyrical content.

“Our lyrics are taken from the band’s personal experiences. We write about what we know. We try to leave things open for interpretation.” Said Jesse.

Soundbender has had the focus of several radio interviews including; “WCYY”, “WTOS” and “WHSN”. They have also been written about in publications like; “The Bangor Daily”, “FACE”, “IT Rock Rag”, “Sun Journal”, and “Good Times” out of Massachusetts. The “Portland Phoenix” apparently gave the band a poorly constructed review based only on their recorded CD, rather than the reporter taking the time to come and see the band and find out where the energy really lies. But for the most part, they have been talked about in high regards.

Soundbender recently put out their fourth CD entitled; “Surviving The Fall” in which they recorded themselves at “The Furnace”, a name the band has given to their garage-based home recording studio.

Opening RosterBefore “Surviving The Fall” the band released “Victory Mile”, which they also recorded themselves. Other CDs include “High Downing” and an EP which they refer to as “2004 EP” which was recorded in Boston by “Sanctum Sound”.

There’s a long list of popular bands that Soundbender has proudly shared gigs with. Bands like; “Powerman 5000”, “Sick Puppies”, “Nonpoint”, “Adema”, “Thornly”, and “Seemless” to name a few. There’s an even longer list available on their myspace page.

“Eye 90 helped book a lot of those kinds of gigs for us in the past. Steve hooked us up! We even played for Jackyl.” The band added graciously.

I just learned today too, that Soundbender won the 2008 Battle of The Bands put on by WTOS Radio. Congratulations guys!

I’m sure I’ll see these guys perform a few more times before the summer is over. What more can I say other than.. Soundbender kick ass!


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