If a perfect blend of cover songs and original material actually exists in a band's arsenal, Wayne County's Low Flying Planes may have found it. The band skates the razor. It's found the balance — give the people what they want peppered with what you want them to want. The band arrived at this balance over its brief, four year history. The covers helped give context.
"It's funny," says vocalist and guitarist Devin Aldrich. "I've learned that along the way. At first I wanted to be 100 percent original, no covers at all. But you get a better response from the crowd when you mix them in; people make that association.
The band — Aldrich, bassist Nina Schollnick, Jenna Owens on vocals and keys, Ryan Dapprich as lead guitar, and drummer Anthony Robert — began to mix in material from artists similar to its own style. Tunes from bands like The Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam swam around in the stew along with LFP's similarly hard rockin', yet fluid, melodious material.
The band members all concede the songwriting begins with an individual spark which in turn ignites the band. Typically Aldrich is that spark, coming up with the melody and the rudimentary chords before spilling it on the others in rehearsal.
"At first, it's mostly Devin," Robert says. "Occasionally somebody else will come in with an idea, but it's usually an individual start, not the band working together."
Consequently, the initial songwriter has more of a vested interest in the song's success.
"We start off trying to make it work," says Owen." But if it isn't working, we scrap it." But it took some time to learn to say no.
"I think when we started we weren't that brave when it came to giving criticism," Robert says. "We didn't want to hurt any feelings. But we learned in order to get the best sounds sometimes you have to be 'that guy.'"
As the band matures, Aldrich is game for bringing in the whole band into the creation.
"It's a cool feeling," he says of writing alone. "But the first time I did it with a band it was so awesome because it wasn't just me. I used to just play by myself, but it's cool when you have the whole band dynamic with it. It's like everyone meshes to make this one cohesive song. That's where I get the most enjoyment out of it."
But so do a lot of other bands. What exactly sets LFP apart from the herd? To be sure, the twin vocal attack doesn't hurt.
"We stick out with our melodies and harmonies," Schollnick says. "It's because we have two vocalists. Their harmonies add another level to our music. I don't think a lot of bands are lucky enough to have such solid harmonies."
And just as the band keenly balances originals and covers it also juggles pop melody with rock weight.
"I think we're more pop than rock," Schollnick says. Owens isn't so sure.
"People ask me," she says. "But I don't really know, because we have a very wide range. We have some forms of just straight rock, some really poppy songs, and we're starting to weave in Southern rock and country."
"We took a band trip to Nashville just to visit," Owens says. "And we were like 'We kinda like this.' We were inspired."
Since then, Aldrich has found himself listening to a lot of Allman Brothers. But he has always been drawn to it to some extent; he's not changing but rather acknowledging something that's already there.
"I like the mix of Southern rock and blues," he says. "I think as a songwriter that's where I've always come from." He worries sometimes that change within the bands' sound — like a left turn toward country — may alienate some fans in lieu of grabbing new ones. It's a balance LFP may have yet to master and is currently mastering on its yet-to-be-titled CD debut.
"You've just gotta have faith that people like what you're doing and that they'll stick with you," he says.
And like its fans, LFP listen to virtually everything different from each other, according to Schollnick. "But we overlap on rock."
The band is the pistol-packin' ruler of Western swing and all the genres that lead up to it.