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FOR MORE INFO: To find out more about Hardin County progressive rock band A Vegan With A Bullwhip, visit www.reverbnation.com/#!/veganwithabullwhip or find the group on Facebook.
By ROBERT VILLANUEVA
A headline about a contestant on a TV reality show featuring modern-day super hero wannabes might seem like an unlikely source of inspiration. But that’s how the Hardin County band A Vegan With a Bullwhip got its name.
Guitarist Randall Nalls said the name reflected the band’s sense of humor. A Vegan With a Bullwhip is a progressive rock band made up of a group of guys in the military stationed at Fort Knox.
“We actually met in basic training,” Charles Reeves, vocalist said, explaining the genesis of the band when he met Nalls.
The two were stationed at Fort Hood in 2007 and became friends, discovering their shared musical interest. After being stationed at Fort Knox they met the other members, and the band began to come together.
“We were all in the same company,” Stephen Suitor, tech/engineer, said.
At first, Suitor played guitar with the group, but time constraints prompted him to move into the tech/engineer role.
“And Randall doesn’t need any help,” Suitor said.
Suitor had been “in and out of bands” in the early to late '90s, he said. Back in Tulsa, Okla., he had a recording studio, but his background in music goes back to when he was 12 or 13.
“As soon as I bought my first Sex Pistols album, I think, I bought my guitar the next day,” Suitor said.
Nalls said he began playing guitar when he was 13 or 14 and lived in Fayetteville, N.C.
Bassist Ryan Comacho, who’s from Orange County, Calif., began playing about the age of 15 and had played in bands at the time.
“That’s the main reason I play bass: everyone needs a bass player,” Comacho said.
Percussionist Dan Mayberry, from Ogden, Utah, began playing drums when he was about 12, he said. He took his first classes in junior high school
“I just figured ‘Why not?’” Mayberry said.
During high school Mayberry played in “a few bands.”
Reeves, who's from Wichita Falls, Texas, also had been part of a band before becoming part of A Vegan With a Bullwhip, but that band had split up. He had been singing “for a while.”
“That’s easy,” he said. “I didn’t have to pick up an instrument.”
A Vegan With a Bullwhip officially formed in January of this year, but most of the members had been playing for three months prior to that. The band is already making its mark.
In September, the band won the Fort Knox arm of an Army-wide band competition and went on to the finals.
“We placed second Army-wide,” Reeves said. “Everybody else played covers.”
Suitor praised the band, saying they were a great band in general, not limiting the designation to the military.
Though A Vegan With a Bullwhip does perform covers, band members carefully “pick and choose” those songs, Comacho said.
The band is in the process of recording an EP of original music. Suitor said it will be ready by Christmas.
Band members believe the recent competition had some advantages.
“It just meant we were doing the right thing,” Comacho said.
“We put in a lot of hard work, and it paid off,” Reeves said.
The competition seems to be indicative of the band’s feedback.
“Every time we’ve played live we’ve gotten a business card,” Mayberry said.
Local gigs are being set up. Suitor said the band should be appreciated “without stigmas or preconceived notions.”
Nalls hopes the public will become more aware of the good music that’s out there.
Unfortunately, Reeves said, modern technology makes it too easy for any group to record and present its musical offerings.
“It opened the floodgates for sub-par musicians,” Reeves said.
Members of A Vegan With a Bullwhip prefer to put in hard work when it comes to their music. Likewise, their performances are high energy.
“If I’m not breaking sweat by the first 10 second of the first song, I’m doing something wrong,” Comacho said.
“We put a lot into it,” Reeves said. “And we want to give people an opportunity to enjoy it.”
“We’re going to change the work,” Nalls said, referring to when they produce their first album.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743.