Detroit’s Bump Make Some Noise

Charleston City Paper | September 20, 2005
“We are not trying to be a jam band, despite what a critic might think,” says Yorg Kerasiotis, frontman for Detroit-based soul-rock band Bump. “We just try to do our own thing. Sometimes, a fan might come up to us after a show and say, ‘You know, nothing out there really turns me on anymore — but the heck did you guys just do up there? That was awesome!’ That’s where it counts.”

Not to be confused with the late-’60s psychedelic Detroit pop band “The Bump,” this jazzy rock band formed in 2001 out of a small music scene comprised of like-minded students at Michigan State University. Despite growing up with ’90s rock and pop influences, their music is a fairly unique mix of older styles, deeply rooted in the classic soul and R&B of their hometown.

The quartet consists of four twentysomethings: Kerasiotis on lead vocals, keys and rhythm guitar, drummer Clint Carpenter, bassist Eric Novak, and lead guitarist Chris Sterr.

“The band started out being like a really intricate rock band with a lot of intricate changes,” says Kerasiotis. “We were really into Steely Dan and stuff like that. By the time we started putting this new EP together, our sound became a little more dark and melodic.”

Bump recently released a five-song offering titled The Heart of Cadillac Square. Leadoff track “Injustice” (a squeaky-clean reggae/ska rocker with plenty of wah-wah guitar) and “Dusk” (an funky, organ-driven, goofy love anthem) both stand out as soulful pop-rock tunes that easily fit on modern rock radio. Other tracks, such as the miniature rock opera “A Million Reasons” (recorded live), deliver more fusion-style, sophisticated jams.

“We’re a collective unit where everybody throws in and adds their bit,” says Kerasiotis. “We decided a long time ago that we would credit everyone for songwriting on every song. I think that some bands get into a situation where one songwriter made most of the money and the bandmates didn’t. That’s what breaks bands up. We don’t have to worry about that.”

While Kerasiotis likes the concise, easy-going EP format, he and the bandmates look forward to recording new tunes when they return to Michigan next month for their first proper full-length record.

“You gotta be smart about it, though,” says the frontman. “You need enough money to make it work and to spend the time to make it sound right. It’s something you don’t rush into.”

Kerasiotis grew up in Detroit listening to Motown hits as well as various older and modern rock. He caught on to Nirvana and the grungy rock sounds of the early-’90s alt-rock scenes in sixth grade, and gradually ventured back into material by Zeppelin, The Band, James Brown, and other classic acts.

“I got my first guitar when I was six years old,” he remembers. “My dad was a classical guitarist and really into Greek folk music — because he was originally from Greece — and he got me my first guitar. He really wanted me to concentrate on playing in a nylon-string guitar [laughs]. When I was a really little kid, I was schooled in Motown stuff. I really remember Aretha Franklin songs, because my mom was into that.”

Last summer, the band geared up and toured across Colorado and the Midwest. They embarked on their first tour into the South as the supporting act for Savannah’s Perpetual Groove, one of the most popular and commercially successful improv-rock bands on the big jam band circuit. P-Groove’s lively new album, All This Everything, leans more toward a modern, electronically-enhanced approach to rock and funk grooves — a sound quite compatible with what Kerasiotis and the guys are up to on stage.

“We’ve worked in a sampler, loops, and lot of backing tracks to fill out the sound,” Kerasiotis says. “It’s very energetic and theatrical … with grooves all over the map. I think a lot of people are surprised by it.

“We love the fact that people tour and share bills — no matter if they’re considered to be ‘jam band’ or not,” he adds. “We love that fan base that wants a different show every night. A lot of these fans who may be considered ‘jam fans’ are the ones really so devoted to music that they go see multiple tours and check out all sorts of stuff, you know what I mean? That’s what we like. It is all about the music, not the image.”


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