In the last year or two, several cover bands have appeared with a focus on the music of the 1990s.
That wasn't the case 10 years ago when FM90 first formed in the Anderson area and were anxious to bring the 90s back amid a myriad of bands focusing on classic rock and the 1980s. Chad Bishop had played bass with bands who had done the latter, but he was anxious to find some fellow players who were interested in bringing back the music Bishop had grown up listening to in the 1990s. He eventually found drummer Kyle Gibson and guitarist Kevin Boyer.
"I was playing and out traveling with a band during the 90s, so I was playing that music when it was new," says Boyer. "That music was a big part of my life, that music from the late 80s and early 90s, so it was nothing for me to step back into it."
"I'm a fan of every genre of music," says Gibson. "I love to play whatever 90s material we play and reenergize it.
Almost immediately Bishop, Gibson and Boyer (along with a now departed lead singer) began to get work by filling the void in musical options.
"We started getting work in this general area almost immediately," says Bishop. "It was hard at the beginning because Kevin was doing some solo shows, so we had to find time to get together as a full band to work on material so we could get three hours of material ready to go. Kevin had played the songs when they were new, and Kyle and I were fans and had played a handful of the songs. It was like dusting off an old bike, so it didn't take long. Maybe a couple of months."
Logging 10 years together with only one lineup change ("Neighbor" John Whitmore replaced their former singer in January 2017) is a fairly remarkable tale of its own, but that story is ultimately the story of FM90.
"We formed a friendship early on, the three of us," says Bishop. "We're not egomaniacs, and we all just love to play. That's really been the foundation for the three of us."
"We all genuinely like each other," adds Boyer. "And we respect each other's talents. Everybody's pretty good at their craft and instruments. Where else can you find three guys who get along so well and are all good at what they do? That's rare, and we don't lose sight of that."
When it came time to find a new singer, they were anxious to maintain those good feelings of friendship and respect. Boyer had worked with Whitmore in the past which was a recommendation that Bishop and Gibson heeded.
"Kevin and our current singer John had been together in a band," says Bishop. "About 15 years ago John stopped playing, did some different things, had a family. His kids are older now, so the time was right, and when he came to play with us it went really well. We trust the opinions of the others, and Kyle and I trusted Kevin's opinion. We knew from working together in the past that Kevin knew John's strong points and his weak points and respected his talents."
"I knew he would fit right in," adds Boyer. "It was a shoo-in because we're all cut from the same cloth. I knew it would be a good fit. My only concern was that he had been out of it for awhile, so I thought it might take awhile for him to get back into it. I'm really getting a lot of pleasure out of watching him. I've been playing out since I was young, and I've never stopped. I'm always in a band or playing solo or acoustic duo stuff. It's been fun for me to see him after being out of it for 15 year, then see him come back and have so much fun. It reenergizes me. I think I needed that as much as he did."
The band stepped back a bit in 2017, allowing themselves to get Whitmore back into the swing and acclimate to the lineup change. They're also trying to break into new markets outside of their own Madison County. With changes in venues and ownership over the years, competition for places to play is intense given how many bands there are playing throughout the state and region.
"It's hard to get a foot in the door these days," says Boyer. "When I was playing 20 years ago, there were so many places in Indianapolis that we could play a month's worth of shows and not play the same place twice. That's not the case anymore. We'd like to break into the Fort Wayne market too, get some attention there, get some clubs to call us back."
"We'll play anywhere where there's a crowd that wants to hear some 90s music, that loves some rock n' roll," says Bishop. "We'll go to northwest Ohio, southwest Michigan, Central Ohio, and at one point we played northern Kentucky. It's got to be beneficial to us in the pocketbook because we can't play for free, but we'll play anywhere."
Currently the band is looking to record, their first effort since Whitmore joined the group. Bishop says they're "polishing up some riffs, formalizing some songs and touring studios. We just want to put a handful of material together, something we can be proud of."
Their primary focus beyond recording is making a move to establish themselves throughout the region, both playing clubs and as an opening act for bigger shows. FM90 thinks Fort Wayne would be a great addition to their regular schedule.
"Fort Wayne is such a great market," says Gibson. "You've got The Bear which is a great radio station. I don't know if people realize how lucky they are to have a station like that up there, and they still promote this kind of music. Fort Wayne and a couple other places in that area like Decatur and Portland - we'd just like to branch out a little. We want to get the word out about FM90."