Phineas Gage Band Shooting For A Big Year

Whether you're learning somebody else's song, or writing your own, the objective is always the same, as the Phineas Gage Band's singer and guitarist, Matt Teters, happily attests.

“A lot of our covers, we consider our own music,” said Teters. “We do a version of (the Beatles') 'Come Together,' that is very much our version. I think we do a good job of reproducing this music, even without big production values.”

The band plans an upbeat party set for its upcoming DTSB (Downtown South Bend) Tent Party show, which marks Phineas Gage's first time there – hopefully, on a decent weather day.

“I'm just dreading it being 40 degrees and snowing, or something like that,” said Teters, laughing.  “Two years ago, it was 75 degrees, and incredible. Last year, it was rainy, and horrible. It was not ideal.”

Look for songs from Cee Lo Green, Daft Punk, and the Killers – plus well-chosen bookends from the '60s (The Beatles, The Doors) and the '80s (“Video Killed The Radio Star,” by the Buggles).

Vocalist Mia Foster plays a major part in making the band's show so distinctive, especially when she tackles songs associated with male voices – such as The Black Crowes' “Remedy,” for instance.

“They're songs you don't necessarily expect a woman to sing, but she does a good job with those,” said Teters.  “She has an opera background, so she's got a range.  We don't approach things like your standard cover band.”

Phineas Gage's core frontline of Teters, Foster, Peter Barnes (bassist) and John “Kats” Katsaropoulos (drummer) will get additional reinforcement from Aim Bennet (vocals) and Richard Daly (guitar/keyboards) – who played with the band last year, but returned to finish his education in Ireland.

However, Daly is flying in for the show, adding an extra jolt of energy to the band's double female vocal frontline.

“She's (Bennet) got a real rock n roll voice and awesome stage presence – she'll be joining Mia as featured vocalist.  He's (Daly) a guy that you want onstage, because he's got so much energy,” said Teters.

The band will also play a handful of originals in preparation for a mid-summer CD release.  Teters describes the band's own material as “energetic, upbeat and melody-driven,” with a similar vibe to Wilco, and Spoon.

Having stockpiled about 50 originals, there's plenty of room to whittle things down – but that's fine by Teters, if the end result is good.

 “I'm kind of the guy that does all the arrangements, and the recording – they're (bandmates) always, (saying), 'Well, why don't we do this?'  I'll be (saying), 'I don't think we're quite ready yet.'  But I think we're getting there now,” he said.

As Teters acknowledges, balancing originals and covers is a necessity, because every venue's requirements are different.  However, the addition of female voices – first, with Foster, and now, with Bennet – has created fresh options that weren't possible when the band started in 2008.

“There's songs that we've played 100 times, and it wasn't until the one hundred and first time that it came together: 'OK, this is working,'” said Teters. “We were mainly a three-piece, but now that we have a woman's voice to put in there, that changes the entire equation.”

That equation gets trickier when people press for comparisons – which Teters takes in stride, for one obvious reason.

“It's really hard to describe your own music sometimes,” said Teters, laughing.  “There's songs written in fairly standard formats.  There's nothing experimental or crazy about it.  We're just trying to come up with strong melodies that catch people.  We think it's working.”

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Author: Ralph Heibutzki

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