With the breadth of musical talent in this city, it isn’t surprising that some of the bands in town have a lot of overlap, with players turning up in various bands at the same time or in regroupings later. Many musicians meet as young kids, as early as high school or even elementary school, with school, marching or jazz bands being their first opportunities to check each other out. Because of those early connections, it isn’t hard to find a band with a lot of experience individually and collectively, even when they’re still remarkably young. That’s pretty much the story of Earphorik, a progressive jam band that is a merging of members of different groups and a product of schoolmates finding a way to play together and with new friends they meet along the way. Members Chris Treesh, Austin Robinson, Nolan Opper and Ryan Moreno first formed as Earphorik in 2013, but the band’s beginnings came years earlier.
“Nolan and Chris had already been friends for years when I met Nolan in music theory class,” says Robinson, who attended Dekalb High School. “Ryan and Nolan had played together in a band called Miles High, but Nolan, Chris and I were starting to jam together, and Ryan eventually started moving our way and eventually quit Miles High to play with us.”
They found a common focus in time to record their debut CD, A Year from All Angles, released in 2014, but since that time Robinson says their sound has continued to evolve.
“Our older songs had a lot more rock in them, so our first album was a little softer and shows the multiple genres we like to play. But through a lot of experience together and being able to play with some great musicians, we’ve made a lot of progress in the last year or so. We’re growing by leaps instead of hops.”
Among those experiences has been the opportunity to play with some well-known musicians like Jake Cinninger, one of the guitarists from Umphrey’s McGee who is producing their new as-yet untitled album for release later this spring.
“When you get thrown onto a stage with great players like that, you can’t help growing faster,” says Robinson. “To play with someone you’ve looked up to, to find yourself in the studio with someone from Umphrey’s McGee, it just makes you a better player.”
Earphorik have started taking off at a time when the young men who form the band are still juggling work and school duties. With studying for exams still a part of their daily routine, they’ve brought in some help with their booking and publicity. Pat Davidson, a friend of the family, has stepped in to help them with some non-musical matters.
“I kind of took them under my wing in January 2015,” says Davidson. “They had released A Year from All Angles in 2014, and they started working on the new album in February 2015, working with Jake Cinninger at Boondock Studios in Michigan. I’m just helping them out so they can focus on their music more. I’m a dad of three myself and really like how focused and driven they are. They were obviously raised right. I’m just helping them to juggle all the things they have going on right now.”
The band does stay busy, and Davidson says that more than half of 2016 is already booked with shows, giving fans and those who may want to become fans a good chance to see them play in Fort Wayne and beyond.
“The CD will be coming out before the festival season this year because we’re already booked until the middle of the year and will be booking more festivals this summer,” says Davidson. “As it is, they already tour Wednesdays through Sundays every week, and with work and with practice every night, they’re really grinding it out right now.”
Having been on board since before recording of the new album began last year, Davidson says the new music is more rock, a little less funk-driven than A Year from All Angles. Robinson agrees, saying it’s all part of the evolution of their sound as the quartet plays together more and more.
“We’re all open to liking the same kinds of music,” says Robinson. “But we also have completely different tastes. We each come from different kinds of music, and we meet somewhere in the middle. It’s kind of a collision of genres.”
Anyone who wants a little taste of that collision can check out a couple songs and videos on the band’s website, artistecard.com/earphorik and in shows throughout the year. Davidson is impressed with the men and the musicians in Earphorik, marveling at their skill level despite no classical or formal training. Each brings his own individual talent and dedication to the mix, and given the lofty company they’ve been keeping, there’s reason for excitement about their future.
“They’ve really begun to flourish in this last year or so,” says Davidson. “And now they’re starting to skyrocket.”