Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cedar Avenue

Cedar Avenue is a goal driven acoustic rock band. “Someday Soon I’ll do the things I been saying…but all I need is a possibility” is the main focus of the debut album Someday Soon. Originating from Minneapolis MN, the band got their first gig in a Tiffany Sports lounge, a college bar in St. Paul, getting a percentage of the door according to Shawn Burtis, drummer of the band. This helped guide the band to where they wanted to be, realizing they didn’t excel in the bar scene, but found that their music was pleasing to listen to. The band opened for Augustana, one of their influences, to a sold out crowd. And ever since, they have been working towards their goals.

Cedar Avenue’s members are:

Kyle Wacther - Bass, tenor bass
Jesse Mathews - Acoustic guitar vocals
Shawn Burtis - Drums
Derrin Mathews - Keys vocals
Jarod Evans - Guitars, keys
Chad Copelin - Organ, keys

Similar artists include: Augustana, This World Fair, Snow Patrol, and Civil Twilight

Excerpt of Radio from Cedar Avenue on Vimeo.

An interview with Shawn Burtis, the drummer of Cedar Avenue:

How did the band form? Who are the band members and what do they play?

The band originally consisted of just the lead singer, Jesse, and bass player, Kyle. They have been great friends since high school and they began writing music many years ago under the name Cedar Avenue. Once Jesse was done with college in California, he came back to Minnesota and brought a wife along with him. She joined the band and plays keyboards and sings background vocals. Jesse was randomly reunited with a high school friend, Shawn (the drummer), at a Copeland concert one night. They began chatting, Shawn joined the band soon after, and the rest is history.

What was your first paid gig? What did you learn from that experience?

Hmm... we got a percentage of the door when we played at Tiffany Sports Lounge. It is a pretty small college bar in St.Paul. Other than that, we played a college show at Concordia in Moorhead which was a blast. It was tons of fun playing for an attentive crowd. So what did we learn? That we're definitely not a bar band.

How did the experience change the band?

It helped guide the direction of the band. Depending on any bands musical style and goals, musicians can head down hundreds of different musical paths. Lots of people do very well in the bar scene but we quickly realized that is not where we excel. The college scene however is one place where our music is very well received.

Did the chemistry with the band work immediately?

It did. Once the four of us were together, we all clicked immediately. Besides just being in a band together, we all love hanging out and being around each other.

How did you get your start?

Once Shawn joined the band, he really hit the ground running and started booking shows for the band, sending out promo, and all the miscellaneous tasks that usually hidden in the shadows. The band kept playing shows in the Twin Cities area while slowly finalizing all 10 tracks for their album, Someday Soon.

What is the story behind the album “Someday Soon”?

Someday Soon is the product of hard work, careful critique, and perseverance by all 4 members over the span of many years. The songs on that disc were being written, re-written, and rearranged in the bands "musical laboratory" for a long time. The album title itself was taken from a song on the album. We felt it was indicative of our collective goals as a band: "Someday soon I'll do the things I been saying..."

How did you come up with the album art?

The album art was created by the drummer, Shawn. We sometimes joke and say the boy on the cover is a scientific mesh of all our faces but in actuality, it's just a random civil war soldier. We felt the imagery was reminiscent of the optimism presented in the album.

Who are your influences?

As individuals, we draw from a wide variety of musical influences which helps add some interesting elements to our music. Some of our personal favorite artists and musicians include Jimmy Eat World, Augustana, Imogen Heap, Victor Wooten, and Blink 182.

Are you going to be touring? Are you limited to a specific area? Or would you be willing to come to UW Oshkosh?

Now that our album is finally released, we plan to tour much more. We want to get outside the Twin Cities area a lot more and would love to come to UW Oshkosh!

What is the band’s aspiration?

To recoup all of our recording costs and play in front of large, enthusiastic crowds.

What are you doing when you’re not playing music?

We all have our own individual interests: rock climbing, computers, Spanish culture,  and of course quality time with friends and fam.

What’s the most interesting audience you’ve ever played for and or unusual experience you have had while playing?

Most interesting audience was when we played in front of a sold out crowd when we opened for Augustana. We got great feedback and it was so great to play for a huge crowd of people that came to do one thing - listen to music. I'd have to say the most unusual experience was probably when we were added to an absolutely random bill setup by a venue on a Monday night in St.Paul. Numerous bands cancelled and somehow an internationally touring experimental rock group, whose songs were usually over 8 minutes long, closed out the night.


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