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January 2016 - The Outer Vibe

Surf Disco Rides the Wave from GR

Story by LCC Radio Reporter Sarah Spohn

The Outer VibeWhile Grand Rapids is often known for its cold weather, lake effect snow showers and vibrant beer scene, The Outer Vibe is working tirelessly to provide a source of vitamin D in the form of sun-soaked tunes. Delivering surf disco tunes, with sixties similarities in a tasty musical colada, The Outer Vibe serves up their sounds complete with a colorful paper umbrella.

Composed of Sean Zee (lead vocals, guitar), Nick Hosford (lead guitar, vocals), Lisa Kacos (trumpet, keyboards, vocals), Andrew ‘Wonder’ Dornoff (Bass, vocals), and Noah Savage Snyder (drums, vocals), the band has been around in some sorts for over a decade. Previous sounds were more rock from highschoolers Nick and Sean, but today’s bright, energetic hooks remind listeners of beaches, the desert, and fun in the sun.

Their latest album release, “Full Circle” embodies the band’s weathered journey, depicting the places and headspaces they’ve visited whilst on tour. The album delivers clever nostalgic lyrics referencing pina coladas, rose colored shades, retro motorcycles and southwest exploration. “Full Circle” provides an instant musical vacation to listeners.

Lead vocalist Sean Zee discusses the band’s sound. “Obviously we have arpeggios and drum kits and all that mumbo jumbo, but… if it took five people to procreate one child, this is what our musical, diaper-dirtying, nipple-sucking baby would sound like.”

If you can’t tell from that quote alone, this band knows how to have fun, and in fact, it’s one of their goals. While spending so much time together, performing a whopping 100 shows in 2015 alone could could certainly be testy, the band members truly enjoy spending time together.

Lisa Kacos spoke about their unique family-like bond. “We get along remarkably well considering how many weeks we spend together riding around in the van ( his name is Vanny DeVito),” she said. “We’re like siblings. On off days, we find tennis courts and play tennis (poorly) together or we find a mountain to climb or a water park to invade.”

Working with talented producers and engineers, Brad Dollar (Grateful Dead, Keb Mo, The National) and Joe LaPorta (The Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons, Vampire Weekend), The Outer Vibe utilized mainly vintage gear to help create a nostalgic Beach Boys, sixties surf sound on “Full Circle.”

The Outer Vibe from Grand RapidsThe band spoke about their instrument collection. “We set many limitations on sound by using a set group of instruments such as vintage Fender amplifiers, a vintage Ludwig drum kit, and Hammond model M organ and Leslie speakers. A lot of classic gear,” they said.

To top off the classic gear, The Outer Vibe is often decked in movie-set-worthy outfits complete with bell bottoms, fringe vests and cool shades to rival the best-dressed seventies celebrities.

Lisa spoke about the band’s nostalgic sense of fashion. “Finding threads to wear onstage is like a treasure hunt,” she said. “Name a town, we’ve probably found a thrift shop. We honestly just wear what we want, and somehow we most often end up looking like a 1970’s camping ad, which is fine with us.”

With diverse individual influences, the band members bring varying backgrounds and musical memories including The Ghostbusters theme song on jukeboxes, playing the piano at a young age, the Pirates of the Caribbean music at Disney World, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and listening to Elvis on a Sony Walkman.

Just as their influences and backgrounds are abundant, so are the friends of the music, fans-turned-family they’ve coined as “the VibeTribe.”

Sean spoke about the people the band has met on the road.

“We’ve performed in cities such as Rapid City, South Dakota or Idaho Falls, Idaho and the audiences have been very supportive and friendly,” he said. “Over the years, we have made many friends on the road. We love the concerts that let us have a reunion with our pseudo family members.”

These pseudo family members are scattered all throughout the country, as The Outer Vibe has been known to tour Coast-to-Coast, with plenty of live shows, gigs and festival performances. This past summer, they performed at The Fashion Meets Music Festival in Columbus, Ohio- a highlight for the fashion-forward ( or backwards in the case of vintage getups) band.

The Outer VibeNot only does The Outer Vibe keep busy with an impressive touring schedule, they also operate a recording studio called Pharaoh’s House Recording. Here, they’ve helped record and produce other bands including American WiFi, The Zannies, Lipstick Jodi, Assume Nothing, Deadlight Holiday and more. Also teaming up with the MSU community music school for “Rock Camp,” The Outer Vibe helps assist in a day-long music camp for teens and the Grand Rapids St. Cecilia Music Center each year in June.

Next for these sun-kissed, tambourine-holders is a four-month national tour from Seattle to Fort Lauderdale. Having just finished recording an intense session of 20 songs in eight days, keep hangin’ ten for some more vacation-in-a-bottle surf tunes from The Outer Vibe.


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