Local band West and Run plays The Pyramid Scheme
When it comes to the local Grand Rapids band West and Run, there are no boundaries. West and Run is not just about music, but also about their friendship and experiences.
“I have kissed (Ryan St. John) on the mouth four times,” said lead singer Ryley Grayson about their guitarist.
Original members, Grayson and James Reinhardt created the band in August 2009, but they weren’t originally West and Run. After three band members quit a year after the formation, Grayson and Reinhardt decided to start over. Taylor Robida, bassist, was the next to join the band through a Craigslist ad and a Facebook post. St. John joined later.
“(St. John) joined the band right before our CD release show, so we had a crowd of like three hundred and that was his first show with us,” Robida said. “And since it was a big show we had to learn a long set, like twenty songs in like two weeks. We were doing like seven hour practices twice a week.”
St. John and Robida, Grand Valley State University students, began as fans of the band and judges at a Battle of the Bands competition that West and Run won.
“The true background on the band is Jimmy and I, when we had our two other members, we played at Battle of the Bands and these two were judges,” Grayson said. “We won, so they picked us to be number one. And I talk to them and I was like do you guys like the new Blink 182 record? And now we are all in the band together.”
They said that it takes each member’s unique part to make the band’s pop rock sound.
“What Taylor brings is baselines, but they are not normal baselines,” Grayson said. “Ryan brings delayed guitar and atmospheric sound, Jimmy brings drums, and I bring the rest, you know.”
Each band member brings in other bands, movies and experiences to create the sound. Angels and Airwaves, Jack Mannequin, Dangerous Summer, Gaslight Anthem, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams and the Breakfast Club are just some of their influences.
But there is more to their songs than just these influences. Although the band has many mixed opinions on musician Taylor Swift, the band creates their lyrics similarly.
Grayson, who writes all the lyrics, said he must be single or go through a break up to write songs. He even said that at least one band member must be single at all times so that they can draw from the real life experiences for song inspiration.
The band promises a lively show when they play The Pyramid Scheme Jan. 19, but this won’t be the first time that West and Run will play there, or in Grand Rapids.
“Grand Rapids shows are hit or miss, they can sometimes be very packed or really dead,” Reinhardt said. “But I think the Pyramid Scheme brings enough people even if it is just people coming in to go to the bar. Plus it is an all local line up so that hopefully, if all bands do their part, will bring in a lot of people.”
The band will be playing alongside local bands The Dockside Fever, Hurry Home, Carielle, Adversary, Records and Small Town Victory. West and Run has played with Small Town Victory at 48 West and competed against The Dockside Fever at Battle of the Bands.
Although they’ve been able to book The Pyramid Scheme, The Intersection and many other places, sometimes they get denied. Recently the band tried to book the South by Southwest Musical Festival in Austin, Texas, but did not land the gig. So, they take the denial and change it into motivation.
“Sometimes you don’t really feel like you are being in a band, like right now, and you are going to hit those dry spots a lot like you feel like you are not doing anything or not going anywhere or you’re going backwards,” Reinhardt said. “But when you think about it, a lot of bands can’t say they have released two albums and have put their music on iTunes and Spotify and streaming music sites.”
The band knows how far they have come by these accomplishments and by their two albums, “Southern Heart” and “Ms. Direction.”
The band will be taking a couple songs from “Ms. Direction,” the entire “Southern Heart” album and a lot of new songs for their set list for the upcoming concert.
But before getting on stage, West and Run has to always visit the bathroom, but not to huddle.
“Huddles, we don’t huddle and we don’t do hand claps…maybe if we opened up for Selena Gomez we would,” Grayson said.
The group may not have a pep talk before going on but they say the bathroom is what gets them ready for a show.
“Ryan checks his hair and we all morally support him and tell him it is fine,” Robida said. “We must reassure him that it is okay, then we will go onstage and play.”
The band said that once their hair is set to go onstage, they hope for lots of ladies in the crowd. But it isn’t just about the applause they get after a show that keeps them going.
“People can applause or whatever, but when people come up to you and say, ‘Dude, you guys are awesome,’ like personally thanking you,” Reinhardt said. “People will always applaud for you, but it is when you get those people after the show that come up to you and buy something from you or say things like, ‘I really want your CD’ or ‘I want to hear more stuff’… that kind of stuff is when you’re like that’s cool.”
They carry the encouragement they get from applause and compliments from shows to their weekly practice. At the end of each song they play an applause recording. “It is moral support, it makes us feel like we are doing something,” Reinhardt said.
West and Run is currently working on a new album with the working title “Love Static,” Grayson said. The band is hoping to record the album with producer Paul Levitt, who also worked with All Time Low. Along with working on a new album, the band is looking to tour and book more shows.
“Hopefully we are making money from this and starting a career instead of trying to make it a career still,” Reinhardt said.
Robida said being in a band makes you reevaluate your passions. Each member said they put the band before other responsibilities. It’s that attitude that keeps the band together and growing.
The band said they invite everyone to come out to the show this weekend, and they owe thanks to their sponsors and promoter Nate from Fusion Shows, who gave all the bands the opportunity to play.
Tickets for the 6 p.m. show are $8 and can be purchased online at www.pyramidschemebar.com.
For more information on West and Run, go to www.westandrun.bandcamp.com.
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