The Distorted Waltz

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Artist Feature,   From Issue 789   By: Matt deHeus

17th April, 2014     0

“Our little group has always been and always will until the end …”

-Kurt Cobain, Smells Like Teen Spirit

There is nothing like being in a band.  The stories.  The inside jokes that no longer require words.  The sharing of good times and bad that alternatively build and smash your self-esteem.  The friendships that help cement your place in the world. 

It’s even better when everyone is in it for the same reason – love of music, “getting girls,” making money or – best of all – practicing a collaborative art.  Being in an original band offers some proof that Maslow might have been wrong and a person can reach for self-actualization before solidifying every step on the Hierarchy of Needs.

I don’t review music.  There are a few reasons behind this.  The first is “who the heck cares what I think.” Writing about music is like talking about flavor.  In both instances tastes vary.  The bigger reason is that every time I sit down with the artists the conversation almost immediately becomes something more than a critique of the songs.

When I met with The Distorted Waltz (Andy Jeglic – vocals / guitar, Matt Miller – vocals / guitar, Matt Hoffman – bass and Sam Shaw – drums), it was clear right away this was the direction the interview was going to go.  Our conversation quickly turned toward the process of creating, performing and promoting original aural art.

The energy of this group is personified by lead vocalist and founding member Andy Jeglic.  It makes it all the more interesting when he describes the band’s humble beginnings.  “We were just awful.  I thought I was going to faint on stage.” 

Luckily he had a big shoulder to lean on in the form of bassist Matt Hoffman, whose first gig with Andy was actually playing mellophone in the Bay City Western marching band.  This relationship eventually led down a well-travelled path of starting a garage band.  The rest, as they say, is history.

The current version of the band began to take shape when Jeglic graduated from MSU and teamed back up with Hoffman, who said, “Andy had been developing his songwriting and I had also been doing my own thing.”

Like many groups, it took a bit for the lineup to solidify.  One thing, however, stayed the same – they featured original music that is developed in a very collaborative fashion.

As Andy puts it, it usually starts with someone saying, “I have a riff.” 

This process, which these days might begin with a few bass or guitar licks recorded on Hoffman’s cellphone and sent by text to the band, usually takes the turn of Jeglic working through a basic arrangement and the beginnings of a lyrical structure.  Add percussion and, as Hoffman puts it, some of Matt Miller’s “sweet little noodling” and – voila – you have a song.  It should be so simple, huh?

Jeglic also makes a very relevant point when he talks about the Waltz’s approach to writing – one that is at odds with that practiced many frontmen.  “I think the whole band should get credit for creating a song.”

The point of rock and roll is not to create perfect little works of art, however.  The point is to turn it up and give it a serious rip on stage.  To this end, the band largely credits the addition of drummer Sam Shaw as the point that the band really clicked as a live act; his combination of energy and playing style the perfect complement to the grunge inspired hard rock being produced by the band.

The 2013 ISMA Gorilla Warfare Tour gave the band a platform to hone their skills.  As Matt Miller puts it, this was also the point where they learned “it doesn’t matter if you are the sweetest band if people don’t want to come see what you are doing.”

The band is very proud of the fact that they have worked with Andy Reed to document their work, with their self-titled debut already available and a second pending release upon the completion of “cover art” and a few final tweaks to the recordings. 

Shaw makes a great comment on this point when he states, “Not everyone has musical talent and an even smaller number has the discipline to capitalize on it.”

“Capitalizing on it” appears to be the plan for the band for the foreseeable future.  Their plan for 2014 is to continue to gig relentlessly, finding and building an audience from the grassroots.

Just as he opened our conversation, Jeglic put a period on it when he said, “If you can’t believe in yourself, no one else if going to believe in you.  We don’t do this for the money.  There is no ceiling to what we can do.”

You gotta love that spirit.

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