FridaysUpdate: Mutant rock: 6 Day Bender melds rock with a C'ville influence
For local "mountain rockers" 6 Day Bender, it all started "with a dream," according to frontman Luke Nutting. Well, perhaps not. The real story behind the bluegrass-infused rock of the Benders could be one of convenience– after graduating from UVA, the members decided to move in together to save money and have an accessible practice space– although we'd prefer to think of it as savvy.
Don't dare confuse Bender with any of the previous Fridays After Five headliners. They may be a former college band and they may live together– but their sound and style is uniquely their own. After breaking into the C'ville scene as a bluegrass band– conveniently, after Nutting was left with only a banjo when his guitars were stolen– the guys of Bender have spent the past two years blending their signature roots style with the plugged-in energy of rock 'n roll. Their version of folk-influenced rock has found a perfect niche in the local music arena.
"We're rock n' roll with a C'ville influence," guitarist Clayton Avent says.
Drummer Corey Gross agrees. "Labels are tricky. We used to concern ourselves with what we were– we're right in between southern rock and mountain rock," he says.
With the convenience of a moldable genre– some songs on their self-titled debut scream bluegrass while others rely more on the tradition of rock– Bender has moved from cookie-cutter musical creation to a synchronized songwriting effort.
"The best song comes naturally– living together lends itself to that kind of song-making," Nutting says. "In college, living separately, we'd bring our own song, structure, outline. Now, we can go to the basement and start playing– it's a much more collaborative seed."
After garnering more than a few positive reviews for their debut album and inclusion in The Hook's 2008 Under the Radar music issue, Bender has expanded their experience as well as their sound. Looping around the south and northeast for shows– not counting a mere 15-minute stint at a Texas battle of the bands and 20 minutes in a Nashville venue– Bender is currently in post-production of their sophomore effort, an album that promises less "trial by fire" and more musical exploration. Hoping to release an EP in the early summer, the band plans on hitting a southern tour after headlining Fridays After Five for the second year in a row. With their mix of old-school Americana influence and modern British-American rock, Bender has a created a sound uniquely Charlottesville.
"There's a lot of original music here, whereas somewhere like Nashville is a wash," Avent says. "There's a sound here too– it's just the right size so you can establish a crowd."
Whether they have claimed C'ville as a home base out of convenience or the culmination of a dream, 6 Day Bender has allowed its sound to mutate along with members' various inspirations– so much so that they will take their rough-and-tumble roots rock to the Pavilion on Sunday as well, as part of the Virginia Discovery Museum's Discoveroo Music Festival.
Mountain rock for children? While Nutting insists on keeping their set hush-hush, Gross slips a hint: "I want to do the Jungle Book song, 'Bare Necessities'." Perhaps we'll see a new sound influence Bender's next performance.
6 Day Bender plays Fridays After Five on 5/1. Ali Marcus opens. Show starts at 5:30 pm and admission is free.