Most musicians their age emulate the icons of their peers—waifish pop punk and “screamo” bands with dyed black hair and lip rings, who sing about teenage angst and first girlfriends. But for the trio of 18-year old Edmondites who form the alternative rock blues band Grasyde (pronounced “gray-side”); it’s the sounds of the generation preceding theirs that draw them into the footsteps of yesterday’s rock legends.
As seniors in high school, there’s a lot Grasyde must overcome that most new bands don’t have to worry about. Things like 8-hour schooldays, homework and the presumptions of venue managers and others in the industry who learn their age and expect whiny, unprofessional musicianship.
But not everyone sees their age as a hang-up. Local rock stations are lining up for copies of their demo, once it’s finalized. Front man, Tyler Lee Wagoner, expects things will turn around when they can offer physical proof of their abilities to anyone who doubts them, as if their short, yet already impressive history weren’t enough.
In May, Grasyde played their first show to a sold-out crowd at Hillbilly’s in Arcadia. After that, the restaurant never let them come back; they’d drawn such a crowd, it was too much strain for the waitresses. Since then, the three-piece band has taken the stage dozens of times at bars, restaurants, city parks and the Oklahoma State Fair to wow music lovers twice and three times their age with their musical capability and their grasp of what made the tunes they draw inspiration from so important.
In addition to writing more than twenty original songs, band members meticulously recreate the sound of their muses in covers of Tom Petty’s “Breakdown,” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” and plenty more from other artists ranging throughout that era.
“You’ve got to be able to know your past to be able to start your future,” Tyler said.
Grasyde is currently the house band at Thunder Roadhouse on Memorial Road between Santa Fe and Western, and plays the all-ages biker bar/restaurant 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Thursday.
Bassist, Jeremy Dodd’s mother introduced him to classic rock at a young age, and though drummer/vocalist, Eli Syed has both church music and death metal roots, he grew up listening to bands like Rush and Genesis.
“I was raised not through sports, but through music,” Eli said.
Tyler has his father, Mike, to thank for his classic rock leanings. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd have always been regular fixtures around the Wagoner home, and it was his grandfather, Jack, who taught him his first guitar licks.
Mike not only lends his living room for their recording sessions and sacrifices his garage for their rehearsal space, but he helps out on nearly every strata of Grasyde’s existence. Becoming a kind of general band dad, whom they call “Boss,” Mike is more than a manager to the three promising teenagers.
“He keeps not only our music in check, but our personalities,” Tyler said.
So far, there doesn’t seem to be any problem in that department. Even without a demo, the boys’ notoriety is growing exponentially, and they haven’t allowed the novelty of actually getting paid for playing music and a growing fan base cloud their vision. Grueling daily practices and a rigorous show schedules haven’t turned them against each other, proof that their friendship is still first priority. And the fact that they constantly finish each other’s sentences is a byproduct of their collaborative song-writing process, where they each write lyrics and sing.
“Other bands don’t get along,” Eli said.
“But we’re all best friends,” Jeremy added.
Their songs aren’t exactly happy, but they’re not necessarily sad, either. That’s where their name comes from: a variation on the word “gray.”
“Our name has a lot of meaning to it,” Jeremy said.
The name ''Grasyde'' is a simple way of saying 'there is light and there is dark, so in between is where we are.'
"We like to keep things on a neutral side of not only music but life in general." Tyler said.
Their songs have an element of poetry to them, with use of similes and metaphors to convey meaning without beating listeners over the head with it, and they don’t use profanity in their songs because they feel there are so many better words to use to pinpoint their meanings more precisely.
Already booked for the Bricktown Ballroom battle of the bands Dec. 17 and Thunder Roadhouse’s enormous Thunder Road 4 biker rally in April, and with gigs constantly falling into their laps along with their demo on the brink of completion, the future certainly looks bright for the three teenagers more interested in the music their parents grew up with than anything coming out of the American music industry today.
“Once we’re out of high school, the focus is going to be on working and making music,” Eli said.
“This is what we live for,” Tyler said. “It’s unpredictable what we’re going to come up with next.”
To find more information on the band or to hear early versions of some of their original songs, visit www.myspace.com/grasyde or call 361-4153.