Love Lust Wonder: Band with CFHS grads tastes success

By Andrew Alemao 2007

You can be pretty sure you’re going somewhere when you’re scheduled to play a gig in Jamaica, even if it never materializes. No one knows this better than a Waterloo band which include two CFHS alum called the Beat Strings.

Guitarist, vocalist and chief songwriter Adam Bolts (CFHS class of ’02) commented on the mishandled tour date. “The travel agency didn’t sell enough tickets. There were 13 or 14 other bands that didn’t get to go (either).”

Such unfortunate mishaps might put a damper on things for any other band, but not for the Beat Strings. Despite being disappointed about not getting to play their intensified brand of punk and glam-influenced rock on the beach alongside dreadlocked Rastafarians, the band continues to look forward.

After all, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t; their album Love Lust Wonder, released in November of 2005 has already sold a thousand copies and shows no sign of petering out al the milestone, despite that their live shows are the most convenient place to purchase the album on CD.

The first track on the album, “Starlight,” even earned them a blurb in the Feb. 10 issue of Entertainment Weekly. “We don’t even know hw that happened,” Bolts bewilderingly said.

Bolts first formed the band in the summer of 2002 while he was still in a Tennessee band called The Shape. He and original Beat String drummer, Tom Kelly (CFHS class of ’02), would jam on songs that Bolts had written with members of the Heart Attacks as well as All Rattle and Dust and eventually began recording them at local recording guru Chris Brown’s (CFHS class of ’04) house. Bolts’ songs deal with topics as vast and different at love affairs (“Starlight” and “Stranger to Love”) to the methamphetamine addled neighborhood he currently resides in (“I Am Meth”).

The songwriting process seems to be relatively fluid and unanimous for the band. “It’s not just the lead singer’s crush; it’s everyone’s thought process,” Bolts said. “The songs are so identifiable,” agreed the bands lead guitarist, Cody Brown.

Bolts recalled when he realized that what he was writing had great potential: “I had friends who were willing to commit to my songs.”

One such friend was Chris Brown (no relation to Cody Brown), who not only recorded the band at his house but also joined it soon after. He now plays keyboards and sax for the band live as well as on the record.

“I’ve always love them since I recorded their four-song demo,” Chris said. “Then they called me back to record their full length, which blew me away.”

Besides Brown’s addition to the band, several other line-up changes have occurred since the band was originally formed. Kelly, who played drums on the debut album, left the band to pursue his own material and was replaced by Landon Strause. More recently, Jack Christensen has replaced bassist Steve Wilson who has relocated to California.

The new mix of band members allows for quite a diverse draw of musical influences. Seventies glam rock artists such as T-Rex and David Bowie have had a major impact on the band’s style as well as other seminal acts like the Velvet Underground, the Breeders, Depeche Mode and lots of early punk rock. Songs like “Osiris” and “Strawberry Knees” also hint at reggae and, dub influences, which would have made them an easy favorite on the beaches of Jamaica.

When a band is able to combine stellar songwriting with the right musical influences, it doesn’t surprise anyone when they are signed to a record label. The band was signed to New Jersey based XOXO Records two years ago, and ever since then have been learning what is expected of them. “You’ve got to read the fine print,” Cody Brown said. “It’s business.”

But on the brighter side, not only has the band learned that record label can save them from a lot of legal trouble, they’re also handy when booking a tour. Currently, they are scheduled for a tour that kicks off at the Reverb on May 11 and then proceeds toward the East Coast, Gulf Coast, Southwest, Northwest and finally ends in the Midwest again.

The band is exceptionally looking forward to one particular show in New York City. “I’m really excited about the facial hair competition at the Knitting Factory, a venue, because the show is documented on ESPN for the facial hair competition,” laughed a clean shaven Bolts.

With a bright future ahead, it might be too easy to slack off, but Bolts and company know that that isn’t an option for them right now and have started working on writing songs for their next album.

Not one to spoil a surprise, the only clue Bolts offered is, “It’s going to be a heartfelt mindscrew.”

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