March 4, 1999
Talking to the Humanity, you get the idea that they're content with where they are as well as who they are. They're producing their own CD, and Jim Teel, keyboardist for the group, calls it a "front to back Humanity production." He buys blank CDs from a local studio and does the transferring himself with the help of a computer. Same goes for the CD inserts. They have so much control over what they want to do, getting a record deal isn't as important as it might seem.
"It would have to be a really cool deal," says Aaron Craig, lead singer and guitarist. "The only thing a label could help us with is promotion," says Teel. "And a bunch of cash," adds Craig.
The Humanity got a dose of promotion when they submitted "Buttox," a blues/jam song to the Edge Essentials contest. "We never really intended to make a song out of it. We turned it into the Edge for a joke," says Craig. It wasn't. It got a spot on the CD, and was used to promote Edge Essentials Volume I in station promo spots. "Being on the Edge was the biggest thing that helped us," says Teel.
"The airplay is what bands really need," adds Craig. Fellow Essentials artist Brian Lemert, a/k/a Onionhead, got a lot out of having his song "Supersonic Rock and Roll Star," put in regular rotation. "He got label interest," says Craig.
"Buttox" sits on the Humanity's first CD, due out in the spring. The group doesn't merely just play their instruments, they use them for interesting effects. The result is a CD with plenty of variety. The sound is reminiscent of Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins with little of the gloom. It's safe to say the Humanity doesn't fit a particular style of music. But it doesn't matter. The CD is one of the best local projects this writer has heard in a long time.
Songs address a number of topics, from a diving platform at Pine Lake to a drug given to persons with more than two DWI arrests. But that's about as serious as it gets. The band's bassist, Adam Martin, observes that whatever inspires one is whatever will end up in a song. Whether or not it's serious doesn't matter. "We write songs about paper cuts," says Martin.
The Humanity was founded by Craig and first bass player Bobby Fry about three or four years ago. Other members include Brandon Rentfrow, saxophone and vocals, and Steve Wright, drums and percussion.
When Teel joined the band, the original singer had quit. After he left, Craig, who had sung back-up, found himself out front. Stamina proved to be a problem for the first few months.
"The singing suffered more than the playing," says Craig.
Their bookings haven't suffered. Although they haven't played out much recently, it's because of so much stuff going on in the members' lives. Craig is working 60-70 hours a week. Teel is in the process of buying a house. But when they do play, the Munchie Emporium, Crawfish Club, The Latch String and Henry's are places you'd be likely to find them. They are especially grateful to the Munchie for repeatedly booking the band.
Things might still be hard for local original bands, but Humanity members agree that musicians are more educated and more talented than before. Projects such as local compilations and a weekly publication covering arts and entertainment help keep the scene growing, as well as getting better.
And in it will be the band that writes about diving platforms and paper cuts. The band that can play three hours of originals fits in at quiet bars and boisterous ones. The lead singer with the voice like Dave Matthews and musicians who can really play have a following that they won't be giving up anytime soon.
"We're not an 'in your face' screaming loud type of band," says Craig.
But then, they don't have to be.
Find out more about The Humanity at www.thehumanity.com.
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