Two years ago, as an alternative to partying and playing video games, six 20-something students at Southern Oregon University decided to form a band.
All were self-taught musicians, and none of them was a music major. Vocalist Sarah Mues was studying anthropology; guitarist Brenton Clarke, business; drummer Nick Johnson, history; trombone player Kurt Langmeyer, theater; bassist and keyboardist Garrett Skelton, computer science; and trumpet player Andy Langenstein, outdoor recreation and physical education.
"It was a case of a bunch of kids meeting each other at school and having a common interest," Johnson says.
Who: FatherDoug, Buckle Rash, The Seaons and Tye Austin & Tertial
When: Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21
Where: Northwest Pizza and Pasta Co., 1585 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland
Cover: Free, donations are accepted
The "kids" called their band FatherDoug. Clark had suggested the moniker not knowing that it was the name of the priest at the Catholic high school in Seattle that Johnson and Langmeyer had attended.
"It was a hilarious coincidence so we had to use it," says Johnson, adding that the name is not a manifestation of any religious affiliation.
House concerts were the band's bread and butter until this summer, when the last of its members turned 21 and it was finally able to get its foot in the local nightlife scene.
FatherDoug is set to play Saturday, Sept. 21, as part of a benefit concert outside Northwest Pizza and Pasta Co., 1585 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland. The free concert will run from noon to 5 p.m. and also will feature Buckle Rash, The Seaons, and Ty Austin & Tertial. Donations will benefit the Ashland Schools Foundation.
Aside from an occasional rap or hip-hop breakdown, FatherDoug is firmly rooted in rock. The band's repertoire includes classic "Led Zepplin and such" rock, blues rock and contemporary rock (think Queens of the Stone Age and Jack White), but almost all of it is original rock, Johnson says.
Beginning with a seed typically planted by Clarke, the whole group works out the arrangements together.
"No one writes a whole song ahead of time," Johnson says. "Brenton and I will jam and get a progression or riff we like, and then add the bass player and jam it out a few more days, and then bring in Sarah. It sounds very organic live."
Fans have compared the band's music to Modest Mouse and the White Stripes.
"We get a lot of compliments on our horns, and I think that's what makes us more than a garage band and gives us that extra punch and melody," Johnson says. "The utilization of brass is something you don't see too often in a rock band."
FatherDoug's five-song demo, "Smoking Cylinders," recorded last year at Tom Frederick's Ashland studio, is available for free at www.soundcloud.com/fatherdoug.