Almanac

Arts & Entertainment - February 20, 2013

Childhood friends stay connected through music

by Samantha Bergeson

Dinosaurs may be extinct, but great music doesn't die. A local band, made up of four childhood friends who all graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School in 2011, hopes to keep their music alive. The band, named Tyrannosaurus Sex, plays mostly jazz-funk, influenced by a variety of rock bands.

Its members are guitarist and backing vocalist Stefan Turkowski, drummer Colin Sutton, bassist Jonathan Wyatt, and lead vocalist and guitarist Noah Stid. The band has released two albums, "Barely Covered" in Februrary 2012 and "Rough and Dirty" in October. T-Sex has played at a variety of bistros and cafes throughout the Bay Area, with its most recent show at the Brainwash Cafe in San Francisco on Dec. 29.

As drummer Colin Sutton explains it, the boys were "friends since the beginning" of elementary school and began jamming together starting freshman year. It was a smooth transition since "we have all been playing and jamming for years. ... We all kind of know how each other operates," he says.

Each played an instrument and taught one another guitar and bass. By junior year, the band was officially pieced together, and by senior year, it won M-A's annual Battle of the Bands contest.

They have limited time to play together. Each member attends a different college so they keep in contact by sharing music files by computer. "The common thing now for college bands since technology is so great is to ... use DropBox to share GarageBand files or recordings back and forth and then add to it," Mr. Sutton says.

Each song is started by a band member who lays a foundation and then shares the fragment with the other band members via DropBox. Most of the second album, "Rough and Dirty," was written this way.

"One of the interesting things about this technique for songwriting is ... everyone fills in the gaps on their own in totally different ways," bassist Jonathan Wyatt says. "And then when we come back together, you can have these totally different images about what the rest of the song is going to look like."

Such a patchwork method of song collaborations based on riffs or singular beats can sometimes create a rift in the group itself. As guitarist Stefan Turkowski says, there tends to be some disagreement about the direction of songs. "There's definitely some tribulations," he adds.

"And trials," Mr. Sutton chimes in.

The band practices when all its members are in town, which happens only when there are breaks from school. This past summer band members consistently practiced every three days to gear up for their August sold-out gig at Angelica's Bistro in Redwood City.

The main focus of the group is the instrumental sound, complemented by the deep voice of Noah Stid. As the main singer, he takes on the responsibility of writing the lyrics. "The lyrics usually have a lot of meaning behind them; we just tell him not to write about his girlfriend too much!" Mr. Sutton jokes.

As a unit, the band is mostly influenced by Gov't Mule, a Southern folk-rock group formed out of the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers. T-Sex covered two Gov't Mule songs on its first album. Yet the members have a conflicting preferences when it comes to music, ranging from bluegrass to metal. Their friendships and professionalism transcend individual quarrels, they say. The band, Mr. Sutton says, "is really what all of our tastes come together as."

Visit tinyurl.com/Band-122 to see the band's website.

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