Local band hopeful about music career

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

Their eyes light up as they talk about it. Their voices fill with excitement as they reveal the work behind it. And passion flows while they play. Music isn’t just their hobby-it’s their life.

Of Kings and Presidents is one of many local music acts in the Brookings area. The local band scene in Brookings continues to grow in number and popularity. More businesses are using local-bands for entertainment and KSDJ has an entire show dedicated to local bands. OKP is an example of how serious these fresh artists take their music.

Rob Lehman, Trey Faircloth, Josh Johnson and Marcus Begren have one priority: music. Everything else girlfriends, jobs, school-comes second.

About a year ago, Lehman, bassist and synthesizer player, and Johnson, pianist and vocalist, started working together on a new sound. Walking to class one day, they told Faircloth about it and he became eager to contribute his guitar skills. Begren later joined, playing the drums, and OKP was born.

“The reason we are all in this band is to create something,” says Lehman, a 21-year-old from Canton.

Their enthusiasm for music started at a young age, and it’s something they want always to be a part of their lives.

“It’s one of those things that no matter how good you are, there are still things to learn,” said Begren, a graphic design major at Dakota State University, who moved to Brookings so the band could live together.

The band is known for their unique sound, one that they have worked hard to create. Lehman says their music doesn’t fit neatly into one genre or the other, but a combination of genres. It’s similar to progressive electronic rock, he says. It’s retro yet modern.

“We know it’s not for everyone and we know not everyone is going to like it,” Lehman says. “We aren’t trying to push the envelope. We are just playing what we want to play.”

All four band members have different tastes of music, but that is how they get their distinctive sound, they say. Their base is classic rock, and then they pull bits and pieces from other genres to create an innovative sound

“You can really actually hear The Doors, Styx in our music,” says Faircloth, a 23-year-old from Madison.

Just recently, the band recorded their first album. The album, “The Sing Sing EP,” is a concept album that contains 8 songs. Together, the songs tell a progressive story about a man that finds his girlfriend cheating on him, decides to kill her and her lover, goes to prison, struggles with his decisions and ends up killing himself.

“The music is very effective. The music can tell a story without words,” Faircloth says.

They are proud of the work because so much of themselves is invested in it.

“I have never been more proud of myself than when I wrote that album,” Johnson says.

Although the band has been together for some time, they have only played two official shows. The guys want to create as close-to-perfect live shows as they can, and waited until they felt confident to play their first show.

They put in as much work planning their live performance as writing their album. They synchronize music and lights as well as trying to keep a constant flow of music throughout the entire show.

“We are just trying to leave a mark,” Lehman says.

OKP does have hopes of making a living through their music, no matter if that takes them to local bars or to MTV.

“I want to be popular and famous, but it’s about putting the music out there,” says Lehman, who quit school last year. “I will go with it as far as it goes.”

Johnson, a graphic design major, says he isn’t interested in his major and is mainly going to school to appease his parents.

“As far as a job, this is the only job I could have and enjoy, but I wouldn’t call it a job.”

Faircloth, a psychology major, agrees.

“For me, a college degree is something I can fall back on because it’s not what I want to do,” he says.

Begren hopes to use his graphic design major and recording capabilities to work in the recording industry, as well as continue with OKP.

OKP’s biggest supporters are other local bands. The local-band scene is a unified family that keeps each other moving.

“You all have the same passion for music,” Faircloth says.

Their band is their life. They have taken work off for practices and much of their paychecks are devoted to the band, after rent. Begren worked many hours last summer in order to buy the equipment to record their first album.

“It’s almost like we are dating each other. Everything we do affects each other,” Faircloth says.

For information about OKP’s next show or to hear the band, visit www.myspace.com/ofkingsandpresidents.