Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 01:01
A new folk-rock band, The Ripples, has made its way onto Georgetown’s music scene this year. Tyler Pierce (COL ’15), who heads the group, is described by his fellow musicians as the band’s “music mind.” After playing as a solo artist for several years, Pierce was inspired to form a band after spending last summer working on an album in Long Island with his high school friend and former Northwestern student Will Heuser (COL ’15). The two spent much of last year collaborating on songs via email, with Pierce sending his initial work on melodies to Heuser. who acted as a “free-lance lyricist.”
“We realized that we were going to take it a little more seriously,” Pierce said. “But [Will] was still in Chicago. It sucked to have to work with each other from across the country.”
Heuser ended up transferring to Georgetown. “I transferred for the band,” Heusen said.
Pierce and Heuser worked for months with their friend Matt Parker, who plays multiple instruments, to record a self-titled album, The Ripples, which was released in November. Although the two learned about producing music and are proud of their first record, they realized that they wanted to work with other musicians going forward.
“About two weeks in, we decided that we didn’t want to be a two-piece folk band,” Heusen said.
Currently, The Ripples are a five-man band with drummer Anthony Albanese (COL ’16), bassist Ben Suarez (COL ’14) and local guitarist Zach Fore.
With more contributing members, the song-writing process has moved in a direction that has pleased the original duo.
“The only reason we were doing 100 percent of the work,” Heuser said, “is that we were 100 percent of the band.”
Suarez referred to Pierce and Heuser as the nucleus of the band and noted that a song usually starts with the two of them. From there, it becomes a group effort.
“We write the songs, but the way the songs sound is based off of how everybody plays their own thing,” Pierce said.
“I think it’s the autonomy we have with our own part writing. Everyone can kind of write their own part and then we’re all open to suggestions and whether it works or not. If something doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. That person is told and we move on,” Suarez said.
In regard to their general style, The Ripples draw much of their influence from ’60s music. Heuser has aimed for their general sound to be reminiscent of The Band, a rock group popular between 1964 and 1976, in terms of the instrumentation and how multiple vocalists are featured.
The Ripples have no specific target audience.
“We appeal to anyone from 16 to 70,” Suarez said.
“Older people like us because they remember this type of music, and younger people like us because they don’t realize that everything they listen to today is still a derivative of the classic stuff,” Albanese added.
The Ripples have a great group dynamic and are very enthusiastic about the band’s chemistry . They have found it to be a defining part of their college career.
“Communicating through music has got to be the coolest part,” Heuser said. “When you can tell everyone where to go with the song by just switching up the rhythm a little, those are the moments when you’re like, ‘We should do this. We should be a band for the rest of our lives. I don’t know why we would ever not do this.’”
To date, The Ripples have mostly played bar circuits, but they seem to be quickly moving toward their goal of becoming a self-sufficient, well-known group.
“We started in September and we’re already playing the Rock & Roll Hotel, so we’re pretty satisfied,” Suarez said. “We’re shooting high still, but I think we’re all pretty happy with how rapid the process has been.”
“I’m confident with the members we have and that we’re going to have an awesome sound. I’m excited to just keep moving forward,” said Pierce.
The Ripples will be headlining at the Rock & Roll Hotel on Friday, Jan. 31. The show starts at 9 p.m., and The Ripples will be playing alongside several other up-and-coming D.C. bands. Tickets for the all-ages show are $12 and can be purchased on their website or at the door. The Ripples encourage all students to make it to H Street.
“We want Georgetown to know about and be proud of its music,” Suarez said.