Sunday, May 31, 2009

Local Band Lazarus To Perform at Spokane's Battle of the Bands

A roller coaster ride. That is how Stephen Fredericks describes the music that he and his four band mates perform.

“We play everything – jazz, classical and metal,” said Derek Deitz, who along with Fredericks plays guitar.

Deitz, his twin brother Dillon on drums, Fredericks, Jacob Craner, who plays keyboard and is lead vocalist, and bass player Keith Anderson, comprise the band is called Lazarus.

“We like the story of Lazarus,” said Stephen, 21. “Jesus raising him from the dead.”

Lazarus has been playing together only since October. They take their music seriously and have already made a name for themselves.

Derek and Dillon Deitz, both 18, and Anderson, 17, attend Bonners Ferry High School and travel every Thursday to Sagle, just south of Sandpoint, where they practice with Craner and Fredericks.

Craner’s parents, who may be the band’s biggest fans, cook them dinner and the three boys spend the night before heading back to Bonners Ferry on Friday mornings for school.

“They (Jacob’s parents) are Lazarus’ Jesus,” said Anderson.

It was Jacob’s mother, Margaret Craner, who encouraged the boys to enter Spokane’s Battle of the Bands. Put on by the Chase Youth Commission, the event is intended to give high school bands a chance to play in a concert setting.

This year’s Battle of the Bands is planned for June 13 from noon to 6 p.m. near the Clocktower at Riverfront Park in Spokane.

“We will announce the winners at about 5:40,” said Mike LeaderCharge, the youth involvement coordinator of the Chase Youth Commission.

Fredericks and Jacob Craner did not think they were good enough to make it but reluctantly agreed to give it a shot. They recorded three songs at Craner’s house and sent in their demo.

“We even forgot about it,” said Craner. But when his mother called and said they had received a letter saying they had been accepted into the June competition, the boys were shocked.

There are 12 bands chosen for the competition. Lazarus is one of two bands from Idaho. The other band is Arete from North Idaho Christian School. According to LeaderCharge, the rest of the bands are mostly from the Spokane area. Each band was recently given 1 1/2 hours at College Road Recording in Spokane to record one song for a CD that will feature all 12 bands. One hour of that time is devoted to recording and a half-hour to mixing the song. It was a time constraint the band was unsure of, considering the song they chose to perform is 9 minutes long. But the young men nailed it. They recorded it on the first take, which gave them more time to mix the song.

“They told us that it was the first time in six years that someone has recorded it on the first take,” said Craner.

The Battle of the Bands competition requires each band to perform for a maximum of 15 minutes. Lazarus will perform its own music. While it is not a requirement, the band members agree it is important to be able to say they wrote the songs they performed.

LeaderCharge said the winner of the competition will receive 20 hours of recording time at College Road Recording, Hoffman’s Music gift certificates, and will perform three paid shows at Riverfront Park: a Fourth of July show; another during Pig Out at the Park and the third during First Night Spokane. Bands are judged on originality, stage presence and overall performance.

According to LeaderCharge, most of the music at this year’s Battle of the Bands will have a rock and alternative sound. But the music of Lazarus is eclectic. The band members say they play the type of music they enjoy and do not try to target a specific audience.

“We are all music lovers and we do not want to be tied down to one type of genre,” said Dillon Deitz.

Craner agrees. “It is fun to be innovative and new” he said.

Craner and Fredericks have been playing together for a while, as have the boys from Bonners Ferry. But when they were each looking to replace band mates they had lost, they found each other through They all immediately clicked.

“These guys have my exact sense of humor,” said Derek Deitz.

The first song they recorded is an acoustic rock song called “Wasted Away.” To date they have completed four songs with three more in the works.

Fredericks said being a musician is like being an artist. It takes a lot of time to make the final product perfect, and that is what they all strive for.

“When we write we put 100 percent into every single song,” said Stephen. “If we’re not working we are playing.”

The young men take pride in the fact that they do not succumb to the stereotype of a rock star.

“We have a pact that never, ever, ever will any of us be under the influence of anything when we perform or are practicing,” said Dillon Deitz.

“We do not need artificial highs. Being on stage is the best high ever,” said Derek Deitz.

Jacob says that belief carries over into their lyrics. They do not write about broken relationships, violence or anything non-Christian.

“There are better things to write about,” said Comer who is the main lyricist.

“Object of the Night Sky,” a song the band wrote, addresses the fact that the Earth only has a limited capacity. “The philosophy (of the song) is on conservation, not on going green,” said Fredericks.

Another song, “Modifying the Spectrum,” is a look at the struggle between good and evil.

“Good and evil is set to society’s standards,” said Craner, who instead suggests that people should look at the difference between selfishness and selflessness. “Each act we do is either directed to ourselves or another person. It is a line that can’t be blurred.”

While they all have special talents, Anderson summed up what is perhaps the real reason for the band’s success.

“We connect, but the most important thing is we are all friends. The music comes second,” he said.

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