Student band work to produce their own music style

Francie Johnson

It’s 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night, and while campus has become quiet the sound of Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” blares from the basement of the Sigma Nu fraternity house. The Doctors and the Lawyers, a UA student band, are warming up for a night of practice.

The Doctors and the Lawyers, formed in September 2011, is the product of random roommate assignments, mutual friends and a “Lead Guitarist Wanted” flyer. The band members had never met prior to attending the University, but lead vocalist Evan Brooks, a junior majoring in marketing and management, said they share an unspoken connection when it comes to music.

“I’ll come with … lyrics [and] have no idea what the song is going to sound like at all, and they’ll just jam and it’ll fit,” Brooks said.

Brooks is the band’s lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist and Zach Pline plays the bass. Taylor Atkinson mans the piano and sings backup vocals with Chris Wilhelm, another lead guitarist. On the drums is Jordan Kumler.

With influences ranging from the Avett Brothers to The Black Keys to Stevie Wonder, the Doctors and the Lawyers strive to have claim to a sound that’s their own.

“I’ve probably seen every live band that plays in Tuscaloosa, and I’ve never heard one that plays the same stuff as we do,” Brooks said. “I feel like it’s pretty easy to just go out there and play your ‘Wagon Wheel’s and your ‘Can’t You See’s and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’s – not to discredit those songs, but you wanna hear something else now and then.”

Wilhelm, a junior majoring in chemical engineering, said the band members’ diverse musical backgrounds play a crucial role in developing their distinctive sound.

“We all have our own visions, our own style, so we’ll get together and we’ll try to play a song, and it will just kind of meld everything together and just turn into something good,” he said.

While only being together for around a year, the band had an opportunity this summer to record some of their music in a renowned studio in New York City.

Gabe Menendez, the band’s manager, showed the demo CD to his friend at KMA Studios in New York City, the Doctors and the Lawyers were invited to record at the recording studio, adding their names to a long list of the studio’s artists including Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Jay-Z and Paul Simon.

The recording process can be hit-or-miss, and songs don’t always translate well in the studio.

“I remember when we first recorded our original songs, we tried to go down to the studio and do ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and spent three hours on it and just couldn’t get it right,” Pline, a junior majoring in economics, said.

The band members agree that when they’re playing live shows, their true passion for music shines through.

“We always try and top ourselves,” Wilhelm said. “Whatever song we have – we’ll go do something really awesome and be like, “That was awesome. I wonder if we can do better than that.”’

As rewarding as being in a band can be, the members find it challenging to balance the band with school and other activities.

“For me, the only time I have to myself, I use to practice,” Atkinson said. “I mean, I love doing it, but I don’t have any time other than that.”

Despite the sacrifices it takes to be in the Doctors and the Lawyers, the band members agreed they are in it for the long haul.

“You know, obviously we’re being pressured by our parents and society to get regular jobs, but this is our passion, for sure,” Brooks said.

For these five individuals, music is more than just a hobby; in fact, they hope to someday turn it into a career.

“Our band name is the Doctors and the Lawyers…but the thing is, our goal is to not turn out as doctors and lawyers,” Wilhelm said.

The Doctors and the Lawyers hope to release their first album in mid-October. For more information visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/TheDoctorsAndTheLawyers, or follow them on Twitter @Doctors_Lawyers.