It sounds like a freak weather occurrence. “There’s a djenetic drift off the coast of Miami that’s causing strong rip tides.” Or, “Be careful driving down I-75. The wind is causing djenetic drifts on the road during this early winter storm.” It also kind of sounds like science gone wrong. “We were successful in cloning the frog until the djenetic drift caused an unforeseen mutation.”
Nope, none of these things are a Djenetic Drift. A Djenetic Drift is a band of seasoned music veterans who got together to see what kind of waves they could make in and around Fort Wayne. After watching the band tear through the competition to place third in the whatzup/Wooden Nickel Battle of the Bands X, let’s just say, a tsunami may be on the way.
Consisting of Jake Wilhelm, Pete Foster, Scotty “Scummy” Knepple, Adam “Mexico” Robison, Matthew Zelt and Seve Sullivan-Doyle, Djenetic Drift have brought a unique sound and musical style to the area and, quite frankly, a much needed breath of fresh air. Their sound is a combination of diverse styles that form to create pure musical chaos. On their ReverbNation bio page, they describe themselves as using colors, sounds and technology to promote an original approach to a modern musical style. Color in music? That’s actually an accurate description for this band, believe it or not.
“(Our sound) basically formed from two separate ideas,” said Wilhelm in a recent interview with the band. “Pete had been working on a dark, eerie hip-hop project, writing poetry and creating beats on his computer. (At the same time), Mexico and I were working on a project heavily influenced by funk rock, with a more traditional melody and lyrical style. We combined the ideas to form one project.
“With the addition of the beastie rhythm section of Seve on drums and Scummy on bass, our sound morphed. Both have extensive experience in various types of rock bands around town and helped drive the music to where it is now.”
The newest (and youngest) member, Zelt, uses a GR-55 guitar synth processor which requires a midi guitar.
“Matt modified his own guitar with a midi pickup,” said Wilhelm. “This allows him to play pretty much any sound or instrument we deem necessary for a track, thus completing our sound as a whole and giving us a unique feature to our music.”
Assembling this team of musicians was challenging, but worth the effort, Wilhelm explains.
“From the start, the band has always consisted of Pete, Mex and me. And we knew we wanted Scummy for bass fairly early on because of his immense talent. We tried out several drummers before Seve joined. We also had a couple of keyboard players, one of which dropped out the week of our first show. But we knew we wanted that last member to fill in the space and really give us a different sound and set us apart. We ultimately decided on Matt and his midi guitar set up to be our sixth member.”
As one might expect, the list of influences band members claim is as diverse as the musicians and, too lengthy to mention here.
Foster simply explains that “the band draws influence from styles of funk, rock, reggae and hip-hop. It’s difficult to pinpoint specific artists of influence for our band because we all have diverse musical backgrounds, so we’ve taken the approach that the style of song we write is less important than the level of energy and focus that we put into creating and performing it.
“We approach every song as its own idea,” Foster continues. “Whether it comes from a lyrical idea or a theme or from instrumental inspiration, we let each song go where it takes us. It comes organically. We describe ourselves as funk/rock/hip-hop, but we really just strive for high-energy songs that we truly enjoy playing. When we’re having a blast on stage playing high-energy, fun and interesting songs, it transfers directly to the crowd.”
One of those songs became what was undoubtedly the most memorable song of the contest. The song, “AshTrake,” with its incredible guitar riff, funky bass line and memorable “don’t forget your dope sack” chorus, had crowds singing and dancing whenever it was played during Battle of the Bands. Even some of the grandparents in the finals night audience couldn’t resist chanting along. Though the subject of the song seems obvious, “AshTrake” may not be exactly what you think it is.
“Ironically, the song isn’t at all about the act of smoking marijuana,” Foster said. “The song compares and questions the acts of those in positions of political power and influence by explaining that the actions of dopers are utterly futile when comparing them to the addictions, murders and environmental incompetencies that fall on the veins and nostrils of those deeming pot and hemp as illegal and unnecessary. The song speaks to that irony and demands that we all put our finger in the face of the hypocrites and remind them not to forget about their own ‘dope sacks.’
“We’re certainly open minded to the idea of drug and alcohol use,” Foster continued, “but no one in the band, including myself, is an advocate of anything that would ruin people’s lives, you know, like doctor-prescribed drug addictions, cutting down millions of trees that help us breathe for profit instead of planting renewable resources, bombing innocent people, genocide, not letting people use medical technology because they are poor, you know, stuff like that. We’re not advocates of any of those things.”
With a trademark song, superior musicianship and a high-energy stage show, Djenetic Drift introduced themselves to the Fort Wayne music scene in a big way through Battle of the Bands X, gaining legions of new fans in the process and registering the most crowd votes on the night of the finals. Just a little more than six months after the band’s inception, Djenetic Drift seem poised to make a huge impact sooner rather than later. Be sure to check them out the next time they play one of this area’s fine music venues.You’re guaranteed to have a good time. Before heading out though, remember to put on your party shoes, and, of course, don’t forget your dope sack.