By Michael Swanger email@example.com
Decoy has nothing to lose playing original music
With a name like Decoy, you might expect a pop band to engage in trickery or deception to create and market their music. But there is nothing fraudulent about this Des Moines quintet or their debut album, “Nothing to Lose,” when you consider what is at the root of their open sound: original singer-songwriter tunes with a funky beat and bluesy, rock guitar.
“It makes it interesting when you blend all those elements together,” said Decoy’s singer-acoustic guitarist Chris Ranallo. “I don’t want to compare us to anybody, but if you like Gavin DeGraw or Palo Nutini, you might like us.”
What’s more, if you like stories about how musicians form a band, you might like Decoy’s back-story, which goes something like this:
Two years ago, on a Tuesday, Ranallo hears guitarist Micah Wagner and singer-keyboardist Brian Herrin play their acoustic music at the former dance club Drink, of all places. He asks if he can sit in. The three proceed to jam for a few songs. The crowd thinks it’s rehearsed. But it’s kismet.
About a year later, after writing new material, the trio enters The Sonic Factory Recording Studio in search of a rhythm section and recording some demos and finds bassist William Fix Brown II and drummer Jon Rosmann. Decoy is born, and months later the group records “Nothing to Lose” at Sound Farm Studio in Jamaica (Iowa) with producer Matt Sepanic.
“I thought Micah and Brian were great, and, musically, we gelled immediately,” said Ranallo. “People told us how big our sound was as a trio, but we didn’t have that backbeat without the bass and drums. Once we got Jon and Fix, the band’s music totally changed.”
“Nothing to Lose” is what the title suggests: a group of musicians with a singular purpose of playing their own music their own way. The independent album includes nine original tunes that range from driving R&B (“Travelin’”), to rock (“All This Time”), to ballads (“Wait,” “Light In Her Eyes”) all within the realm of “pop music.”
“The songs are pop, but they have a funky soul,” Ranallo said.
Most important, the singer said, they are original. As a full-time musician, who also performs solo shows to fulfill a demanding schedule of 150 to 200 gigs a year, Ranallo has played a mix of covers and original tunes throughout his career. Some gigs require more covers than others, and, consequently, he feels he has been unfairly labeled.
“We’ve been unable to get into certain festivals because they think we’re a cover band because they’ve seen me play covers,” he said. “We’re trying to change that.”
To help promote the album, Decoy is looking to increase its number of live performances in 2010. Ranallo said the band hopes to break into new Midwest markets such as Omaha, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Chicago.
“We want to build a strong following and keep it growing,” he said. “We would like to play at least one meaningful show of original songs per week.”
To help build its fan base, Ranallo said Decoy is in the process of recording a few new songs that it plans to release on its Web site, www.decoyband.net. The group is also considering adding blogs by its members to enhance its online offerings and to allow fans to better interact with them.
“We want the fans to have a voice, too,” Ranallo said.
In the meantime, as the group promotes its new album, Ranallo wants fans to simply enjoy Decoy’s music and to attend their shows.
“I want people to really relate and listen to the songs and recognize the fact that we’re a Des Moines band playing our own music, and we’re proud of that,” he said. CV
Caption; Decoy plays Friday, March 12 at 9 p.m. at Mickey’s Irish Pub, 1800 N.W. 86th St., Clive.