When people ask any of the members of 4 Lazy Dudes what kind of music they play, they are usually surprised when the response is, "a hip-hop group."
The four lazy dudes are Shayne Hanson, Gregg Land, Josh Simpson and Joe Wegner — and by the amount of choreography and intensity in their performances, they should hardly be called "lazy."
The four dudes all met when they were students at Southern Oregon University last year. Three of them, Hanson, Simpson and Wegner, are theater arts majors, and performance is a big part of their act.
"We all come from acting, so we're ready to perform, and we're ready to put on a show. We all focus on the lyrics and how we sound, but really when we perform we want to put on a show," said Wegner.
The 4 Lazy Dudes' lyrics focus on the experiences of twenty-somethings' lives in Ashland, for the most part.
"We started writing about stuff that was happening to us now, what we were going through, and that we were thinking about. We're not trying to be anybody, we didn't grow up in the 'hood. We're just a couple of white kids in Ashland that decided to write some music," said Wegner.
They got together when Simpson and Hanson, who lived next door to each other, were hanging out one day and Hanson started showing Simpson a book of poems and writing he had been working on.
"He was showing me this book of poetry and rhymes and stuff he's been writing throughout the years, and I was like 'Dude, I play guitar, and we can use garage band and make a song!' " said Simpson.
Then Hanson brought Wegner into the group because he had been in another rap group called A-Town.
"We performed in a few backyards. Nothing big, but I started working with these guys. We just kind of hung out and started writing stuff. We started writing this song called 'California Stop.' It was Shayne's idea," said Wegner.
Land joined after the first eight months the group was together, but soon the busy college and post-college life left little time for all of them to be in the same place at one time. Land, who now lives in Los Angeles, uses a Google drive to share new beats and rhymes back and forth with the three guys in Ashland.
"When we started, the music we were making was really for us — not for anyone else. I don't think we ever planned on doing anything past maybe sharing these songs with our friends," said Land about the beginnings of the group via email.
Even though three of the members live in Ashland, at one time Land was in L.A., Hanson was in Idaho, Simpson was in Corvallis, and Wegner was in Ashland, and they were communicating through email and making songs.
"We can be in different towns and still make music," said Wegner.
For the Tidings Cafe video, only three of the dudes appear, as Land was still in California. But Land will be joining his other lazy dudes at their upcoming performance at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, at Northwest Pizza and Pasta, 1585 Siskiyou Blvd. The Suaves will open for the hip-hop group, and there will be a $3 cover. Northwest Pizza and Pasta is where the four first performed publicly about two years ago.
"Every time we've played there we've pretty much packed the house," said Hanson.
"This next one, since Gregg will be here, we're hoping to fill the place," said Simpson.
In the Tidings Cafe video, Hanson, Simpson and Wegner perform "Big Man on Campus," a new song. The video was recorded in the SOU music building in an empty room in the basement of the building. To see the video, go to www.dailytidings.com/tidingscafe.
Simpson and Land said they did not listen to much rap when they were younger but in the past few years have come to appreciate it.
"I'm not a tremendous fan of what the genre has become these days, which is why I still listen to a lot of the oldies. Somewhere down the line it seemed to become more about this dub-step sensation and less about the story of the song," said Land, via email.
"To me, I feel like rap is another form of poetry. Now I understand the flow of it," said Simpson.
They've written about 30 songs and have many available for download on their reverbnation page at www.reverbnation.com/4lazydudes.
Lately, they have had audience members ask for T-shirts and CDs, so they are contemplating recording an album.
"I'd love to see us produce an album this next year. We've flirted with the idea now for awhile, and we actually have a lot of songs that feature other artists and friends of ours that don't get the opportunity to perform at these live concerts, and I'd like to be able to share all the great work we've done together," said Land, in an email.
As their careers develop and they get pulled in different directions, they have the option of continuing to collaborate digitally or enjoy it while it lasts and look back on this time fondly.
"I just hope to keep writing and making music," said Hanson.
"We don't know what will happen, but for right now, this summer we want to get as many different things in as we can," said Wegner.