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Home Arts and Culture  TURN IT DOWN: A survey of Lansing's musical landscape
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Wednesday, December 2,2009

TURN IT DOWN: A survey of Lansing's musical landscape

Wheels still in spin: Small Brown Bike moves forward at own pace

by Rich Tupica
After a six-year hiatus, the members of Small Brown Bike are taking another lap around the block, only this time it’s mostly just for fun.

In the past, the aggressive, posthardcore band toured the country with big names like Sparta and Hot Water Music, recorded albums for punk giants No Idea and Lookout Records and vigorously crisscrossed the country from 2001to 2003.


While some may classify the band’s signature sound as early emo, the band prefers to stay clear of labels. “When people ask, I tell them we’re just a rock band,” said Mike Reed, the band’s vocalist and guitarist. “We never paid attention to any of those labels.”


While the band formed in Marshall in 1996, it could easily double as Lansing band. “I moved up here to go to MSU in 1994 and never left,” Reed said. “I’ve lived in Lansing almost as long as I lived in Marshall at this point. I’ve actually put down roots and bought a house here in Lansing.”


At the height of the band’s rising popularity in 2004, the members called it quits and entered the working class. But last summer the band caught a second wind and began booking shows and recording new songs in the drummer’s basement. Recently, the band released “Composite, Vol. One,” a new 7-inch on No Idea Records.


“I think we broke up because it became such a pressure,” Reed said. “We have other things going on in our lives, like being married, other projects and going school.”


Today the band is booking shows, but with less rigorous touring. “Our main thing right now is to have fun and find a balance between life and band life,” Reed said. “It’s an excuse to get together and hang out.”


Reed, 33, said he and his band mates may not be living the punk lifestyle anymore, but that hasn’t compromised the band’s trademark sound. “We don’t overthink songwriting. The essence of what Small Brown Bike is, is in the new stuff,” Reed said. “The lyrics are defiantly introspective and personal.”


The band, which also includes Reed’s brother Ben Reed (vocals/bass), Travis Dopp (guitar) and Dan Jaquint (drums), has come a long way since its conception more than 13 years ago in a small Michigan town. “If we didn’t grow up in Marshall it would be hard to say if we’d be playing music or not,” Reed said.


In the ’90s, a small group of bands and promoters worked to bring touring acts to Marshall to play at a rented hall. Those shows taught Small Brown Bike the ropes of punk rock. “We had bands from California and everywhere that would come through and play our town,” he said. “It taught us how to do our own shows and everything that goes with it."


These days, Reed attends rock shows in Lansing, and he has been digging local favorites The Cheap Girls. “I’m not trying to be ‘the older guy,’ but they remind me of where Small Brown Bike was when we were touring a lot and putting out records and all that,” he said. “They’ve gotten notoriety outside of Michigan, and that’s cool to see.”


Small Brown Bike


with
The Cheap Girls, Bridge and Tunnel, The Amoebas, Plain Dealers 8 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 5 Mac’s Bar, 2700 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing.


$10, 18 (517) 484-6795 www.macsbar.com



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