Troy: Music is Universal
Written by Tamara Styer | Photographed by Kali Fisher
It’s the night of Troy’s label showcase. The Ugly Mug is packed with an all ages crowd of well over 300. And the band is sitting upstairs in a tiny little room that resembles something like an office, chatting with Deitra Mag about the show, the debut of their new video and their new album.
“Tonight is a doorway that could be opened up,” says drummer Chris Mau.
Doorway, indeed. As the winners of the Ozark CW Rockstar Search Contest, Troy’s single, “Out There” landed a music video with air time sponsored by the CW Network.
“If anything happens with us,” says lead singer and guitarist Cord Bishop, “We want that to happen to Springfield. We want to make this our home base.”
“This town has made us what we are,” says guitarist John Bledsoe. “Springfield has had a very trying time as of the last six or seven years, ever since we came into this music scene, and been faced with bars closing down, with bands breaking up, with the minor bar ban taking effect, and not even being able to have anyone under the age of 21 come and listen to your music. And to be able to have a show like this where people are kind of bending over backwards to accommodate the minors, and there’s been so much support from people in the other bands and the community that there’s like a transformation coming over the Springfield music scene, and its kind of reviving itself. And I think not only are people here to see this show, but they also want to be a part of the scene, because this showcase is good for Springfield music.”
Troy has been through a lot in the past six years, first having started the band in high school, then working their way up to traveling to venues in other cities in the mid-west.
“We started because we all loved music, and I think we’ve always kept that,” says Bishop. “The only reason we play is because of the music. Over six years you learn something about marketing, how to do shows and how to help yourself out playing music.”
“We were just so excited just to be able to play in a bar,” says Bledsoe. “We played some of our favorite shows in those bars like the Rockwell. We got to play the last night that bar was ever open, and it was honorable that they wanted us to play that show. We’ve seen so many bands come and go in this scene. That’s the biggest thing. Just don’t quit. We are all original members. We’ve known each other since we were wee little boys.”
“We went to kindergarten together,” says Bishop. “Rode the school bus.”
“I came in third grade,” says bassist Kane Ransom. “But yeah we’ve known each other for years.”
“If we can become an influence for somebody younger, coming into the scene, that’s beautiful,” says Bishop. “I remember going to see Happy Endings with John five or six years ago, and it was like, 'Yeah, let’s do that! Let’s do that!' And hopefully here there’s kids watching us saying, 'Let’s do that!' Because its all about getting out there and getting that experience. I like to get out and get on the stage and play music. Not a lot of people get to play music, so I think its just a great opportunity to have. We embrace it. Music is a funny thing. Personally I think we’re all on our own musical journey, but at the same time we’re together right now. To grow so much and have three awesome guys to grow with, that’s a neat thing, and if anybody can see that and get that same feeling from this that I’ve got, then it’s worth it."
“To be in a band does require a lot of work, to make a successful band,” says Bledsoe. “But at the same time if you love it, it’s not work. It’s just something that we found ourselves doing without being aware of how hard we were working, it was like the excitement overshadowed how long the journey actually was, and we were two years into it wondering why we didn’t have a record deal yet. We had to go over so many more bridges and really get torn down before we could figure out where we were.”
“Trials and tribulations,” adds Bishop.
“We’ve been through a lot as a band,” says Bledsoe, “but it’s a blessing that we have such a reliable foundation. We’re not band mates, we’re like brothers.”
“That’s the beauty of it,” says Bishop. “You learn from everything, and if you don’t, then you’re just stuck in the ground for however long, but I think we’re all capable of learning quickly and hopefully it pays off. We’ll see. Take it as it comes, you know?”
Troy's guitar-driven sound stands out in the local rock scene, Bishop's velvet voice being the focal point, moving in arresting intervals and emotionally expressive lyrics: As I try to catch my breath / Afraid that I'll be left behind / Should I change what I've become / Or should I close my eyes.
They have placed first in three regional Battle of the Bands competitions, and shared the stage with rock greats such as KORN, Three Days Grace, Breaking Benjamin and Skillet. The band says they have gotten this far through hard work and dedication, and most of all, their fans. Their recipe for success?
“I think when your passion aligns with your will power, if you push hard enough, success is the only option,” says Bishop. “If you’re devoting yourself to your passion, even if you fail, you’re going to be happy because it’s your passion.”
“Trying to keep it humble,” says Ransom. “Not thinking that you’re all that. No matter if you have an awesome show or whatever, you want to realize your source and thank that source, which is obviously your fans who are supporting you. And just keeping it real.”
“Bands really don’t realize how much work it takes to actually reap the benefits in this industry,“ says Bledsoe. “And we haven’t even begun to skim the surface, and we’ve been going out six or seven years now. One of the biggest reasons we’ve made it as far as we have is because our music is honest. And it’s resembling our lives and experiences we’ve had and it’s been our therapy, and that’s why we have a fan base. People are listening to our lyrics, and they’ve been able to apply it. So many bands start for the wrong reasons, they think a guitar sounds good or they think it’s nice to have groupies. They really don’t stop and think about how important it really is. You’re creating a community of people, you’re trying to bring people together, you better make sure it’s for a good cause, because if it’s not you’re wasting their time and your own. Just be true to yourself and honest.”
“We haven’t really scratched the surface on what’s to come,” says Bishop. “We’re always just looking ahead, you’ve got to roll with the punches.”
Troy has a large fan base in Springfield, and they have traveled and played in other area like Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia.
“We’ve formed some pretty solid relationships with bands in those cities,” says Bledsoe. “It’s impossible without the right PR and publicity to go to another city and just play a rock show when you’re not getting radio airplay, you can’t just go up there and flyer because you’re four hours away. There’s really no avenue to promote, so you’ve just got to find bands that already exist in the city and convince them that they should come open for you so you can come open for them. Just trade off and try to share fans, and that’s basically the way we’ve done it for the last six years.”
“When you talk to somebody and you realize they’re genuine…” says Bishop. “We’ve made some great friends through these processes. We’ve kept fans for a lot of years and we’re still gaining new ones. You want to be nice to people. You know, I look at another human and I genuinely want to be nice to them. You know like, 'Hi human.'”
“And truly appreciating people at the show,” adds Bledsoe. “People sharing music together is something that shouldn’t be forgotten.”
“Music is universal,” says Bishop. “We’re going to go out here and play a song, and that energy from that song is getting dispersed into the universe, and it will never come back. It’s going to be there, and it’ll get transferred to something else. But each time you play live that’s human energy going out into the universe, and that’s the beauty of live music. Because society’s push on what music is - they’re trying to get everything that’s good about music into one two minute song - I just think music is a little bigger than that.”
Ransom adds, “If all matter is vibrating, and music is vibrations, then the universe is music.”
“Ask yourself this one question,” says Bishop. “Were you really put on this earth to work a nine to five job every day, to make a piece of paper to go spend on little materialistic items? Or were you here to learn from your experiences and take in everything you can, and actually follow what you’re passionate about? Because if you’re not, I think you’re just wasting time. And I think you’re just going to keep coming back here until you get it right. And you know my passion happens to be music. I think there’s so many great musicians, there’s tons of better musicians in Springfield than I am. There’s a lot of great people, but there can be a certain variable that they’re not up on stage right now. And I would say to them, go face your fears and go do it. Because what is fear? Fear is an illusion. As far as younger musicians, play as much as possible. Lock yourself in a room for three days, you know. That’s the beauty of being a kid. Having a guitar in your hands.”
Watch for Troy's new album, due out later this year, and in the meantime, download Effective Immediately, on iTunes.
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Reproduction prohibited, permission only
Copyright 2011, all rights reserved
Photography by Kali Fisher, Severed Shadows Photography
Copyright 2011, all rights reserved