Fort Wayne, Marion and Lafayette. These are the three cities that comprise Three Cities, a quartet of musicians and friends from different parts of Indiana who name Led Zeppelin, Queen, Rush and Deep Purple as some of their many inspirations. Three Cities are dedicated to not only represent the classic rock era of the 70s, but are also helping to keep the hard rock spirit of those bands alive and well in a musical climate where EDM, rap and pop enjoy wide commercial popularity.
Originating in late 2013, Three Cities came together when guitarist Patrick Brown contacted a longtime friend, drummer Anthony Decker, about the possibility of forming a band of their own. Brown then also invited mutual friend Terel Lynn to help out with vocals and lyrics.
“We all knew that we wanted to do this rock n’ roll type band, and we started jamming in Anthony’s garage with different riffs and lyrics. But at this point, it was just guitars, drums and vocals, which isn’t much of a band unless you’re the White Stripes,” Brown said.
That’s when the band contacted David L. Herring, with whom Brown had played music before, to add keyboards and bass to Three Cities’ fledgling songwriting sessions. With their lineup complete, Three Cities then had to overcome the challenge of scheduling rehearsals and recording sessions around the members’ daily obligations. There was also the matter of physical distance between the band members, as Lynn and Herring live in Fort Wayne, Brown resides in West Lafayette and Decker lives in Marion.
Through perseverance, Three Cities began to rehearse monthly in Decker’s garage, the experience giving inspiration to one of their first singles, aptly titled, “Anthony’s Garage.” The band also credits that song with establishing Three Cities’ musical identity and helping them determine what sounds catchy and appealing to an audience.
Using a democratic approach to songwriting, the band managed to write enough material for an album, with many more songs left over for future alterations. Their debut studio album, For the Price of One, was released in January 2016.
Three Cities then started gigging last March, Skeletunes Lounge being the venue for their first live performance. More shows in and out of Fort Wayne soon followed, with the band becoming a tighter unit as a result.
“When we started getting shows, I think those actually became our best practices. We learned a lot about each other and ourselves at our shows this [past] year to prepare us for what we need to be working on outside the stages and garages,” Decker noted.
In April, while the members of Three Cities were still new to performing live with each other, the band put its skills to the test when they participated in the Wooden Nickel/Sweetwater Battle of the Bands competition, where they placed second.
“We knew going into it that we could have been completely screwed over on the crowd vote,” Brown said, “We knew we had to be firing on all cylinders, and we went into this thing after a really bad rehearsal where we were out of tune and had timing issues, and I had to completely reset my three guitars because of intonation issues. There was this mini freak-out moment right before the Battle of the Bands, but we ended up getting first place in our preliminary round, and it was a great confirmation for everything that we had been working on.”
According to Herring, the individual band members have diverse influences, styles and listening preferences that work as an advantage when they write songs, and helps turn basic ideas into something more elaborate and fun to perform.
“Because if you’re not clicking with something, you have three other minds to take it to. That diversity within our styles that we all enjoy and like doesn’t make writing songs that much of a challenge,” Lynn added.
While the songwriting process itself is fun for Three Cities, they remain faithful to their initial goal of performing songs in the same style as the hard rock groups that inspired them to form the band.
“The way to look at it is we’re trying to carve out that rock n’ roll niche that is kind of gone right now. Beyond pop and Top 40 and EDM, metal has a great niche. Indie rock has a great niche. One of the things that motivates me is that we’re one of the only bands that’s trying to do this hard rock sound in not necessarily an alternative way like every other radio rock band is,” Brown observed, “It’s a challenge to get that message across, but one that’s really fun to tackle.”
Looking ahead, Three Cities are making it a point to book more shows for 2017 so they can continue to spread the energy of classic rock to as many audiences as they can. According to Lynn, a specific goal is to start performing at bigger venues, possibly even festivals.
“I’m happy with where we’ve gotten so far. A goal coming out with this band was to be a bunch of dudes who played some good music, but we didn’t want you to take us too seriously. Me personally, I’d like for someone to just walk up and say, ‘Hey guys, I’m willing to pay you a salary to go out and tour and do music the rest of your life.’ That would be awesome,” Lynn said smiling, “But for now, we’ll see where this goes.”