Taylor Fredricks has been playing music for more than half his life and has been a part of the local music scene for almost a decade already. Big deal? He’s only 21 years old. You might say Fredricks had no choice but to become a musician. You might even say it’s in his blood. He got his first guitar on his ninth birthday and the rest, as they say, is history.
“My father said he started playing when he was about eight, so I wanted to do the same thing,” Fredricks said in a recent interview. “I immediately fell in love with it. I taught myself [to play] and started writing songs almost immediately.”
By the time he was 13, Fredricks began booking his own shows at coffee shops in and around Fort Wayne. “I’d do three to four shows a month at every different coffee shop” that hosted live music, gaining valuable experience and a number of fans in the process.
But solo shows weren’t getting Fredricks where he wanted to be musically. To be able to play shows on bigger stages and in larger venues, he knew he had to find a band to back him. Through friends, networking and Craigslist, Fredricks put together that very band.
“This month is the third anniversary of this band,” Fredricks said.
They started big.
“Our first show together was a sold out show at Planet Rock in Battle Creek, opening for Pop Evil and Parabelle. It was amazing. Parabelle’s bassist [Chris Giovenco] liked us so much he rode back to Fort Wayne with us after the show. My high school graduation was the next day, and he came to that. Then we drove to Detroit and played a show that night with Parabelle at The Ritz.”
More shows followed, as the band perfected tracks that would eventually become their debut album, … And Then the Hearts Suffered EP. The EP was released in 2011 and was well received, earning them opening slots for national bands like Hawthorne Heights, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Shallow Side and Otto’s Daughter, to name a few.
Taylor Fredricks, the band, took part in last year’s whatzup/Wooden Nickel Battle of the Bands. Because a lot of their fanbase are under the legal drinking age of 21, the band ended up playing in front of a lot of people who had never heard of them or their music. Armed with a passionate and energetic stage show complete with great songs, Taylor Fredricks won over many new fans while advancing to the quarterfinals before finally being ousted from the contest.
“Battle of the Bands was something new for us. It was definitely a fun experience,” Fredricks said. “We loved playing with the other bands and rooting for our friends in Soma, Valhalla and Maria Hill. It’s definitely something we want to do again in a few years, when we can get a few more fans over 21 in to vote for us.
After Battle of the Bands, the band added one musician and changed another. “We added my buddy Travis [Kreager] on keys to make the sound fuller, and we have a new bass player in Marcus Fulk,” Fredricks said. “Travis was coming to all of our shows anyway. Then we found out he could play keys a little. He’s really stepped up and added a lot to the band.”
With the new lineup came a new attitude, new ideas and new music.
“We feel our last EP doesn’t do us justice anymore because we’ve grown and matured as a band,” said Fredricks. “We’ve improved so much and have a different sound now.
To show off that new sound, Taylor Fredricks began recording new music last year. “This time, we got AJ [Becerra] from Sweetwater to help us record it. He has his own studio, called 9:00 Studios, and it is a great place to record.”
While the last album was a nice way to introduce themselves to the music scene, Fredricks hopes this album will go a bit further and not only impress current fans, but also capture the attention of new fans and people who can make a bigger difference in their lives.
“We’re hoping that because this album sounds so much better than the last one [that], once we send this album out [to labels], we will have a lot better chance of some of them becoming interested in us and signing us.”
On April 12, Taylor Fredricks released that EP, the six-song The Structure of a Mechanical Heart. “We’re really happy with the way it came out,” Fredricks said. “This album is the next part of our story, which we hope to continue with every album. On the first EP, we broke down the heart; now, with this album, it’s being rebuilt. Whereas the first album was a bit negative and relationship-based, this album is more positive. It’s about following your dreams and never giving up. There is only one relationship song on this album, a song I wrote years ago that was re-worked to make it sound current. The rest of the songs just inspire you to keep fighting, no matter what the odds or what adversity you face. It’s based around the concept of hope, love and life and getting yourself in the mind-set of doing what you need to do to get you where you want to be.”
Catch Taylor Fredricks and his band (Fulk, Harrison Sade, Dylan Jones and Kreager), when they play at Broadripple April 19 and at Wooden Nickel’s North Anthony store on Record Store Day the next day at 7:30 p.m. Pick up a CD while you’re there, and one day you may be able to say, “I knew them before they got big.”