From backyard parties to the start of an East Coast tour this week, Portland-based rock band Rigometrics are seeing their dream of playing full-time come true.
Guitarist Josef Berger, drummer Derek Haney and keyboardist and lead vocalist Keenan Hendricks bring elements of funk, blues, pop and classic rock to their 20 original songs, a taste inspired by Led Zeppelin, Queen and The White Stripes , among others.
Their performances are full of energy, from Keenan leaping as he moans on the keys to Haney’s punchy solos. During a show in February, the crowd demanded that Berger take off his shirt. He did, then put the guitar behind his head and ripped out a solo.
“You feed off of that,” Hendricks said, sitting in front of the electric drum set in the trio’s Westbrook living room. “When you play your original songs and people vibe to it, you’re like, ‘Whoa, this is crazy’ and they dance, they get loud. You just feed off of it.
After graduating from the University of Southern Maine with little fanfare in 2021 because of the pandemic, Hendricks and Haney decided to celebrate with a two-week road trip, and Berger met them halfway after. having graduated from the University of New England. Their only commitment was to play at a friend’s party in Virginia, but they decided to see what else they could do.
“The band wasn’t something we thought was going to actually happen at the time,” Haney said, noting that their friends, and even themselves, considered two USM basketball players and a soccer player. A forming a group as “a joke”. .”
But they still showed up at a small concert hall in Virginia.
“We definitely went in like we were legit enough,” Hendricks said. “We’re doing an East Coast road trip,” like a real tour, which we weren’t at all. »
The fake-until-you-make-it strategy paid off. They had the gig, playing in front of 50-75 people, with a light show and a fog machine to boot.
Within days of returning to Maine, the pandemic mask mandate in Portland had been lifted.
“At the time, no one was booked into all of these venues,” Hendricks said, and they scheduled shows wherever they could.
As they worked the bar scene in Portland throughout the summer of 2021, they developed a following.
“We knew if a place gave us a chance, we could bring people there,” Haney said.
Their performances blossomed into slightly larger shows at the University of Maine and in Hendricks and Shepherds’ hometown of Rockland. Then they scored a gig at The Rack at Sugarloaf on New Years Day, which Haney says was “the turning point”.
The band’s ability to network continued to generate success as they booked shows at Bates College and the University of Vermont following their performance at Sugarloaf. Returning to Portland once more, they began playing shows at venues like Geno’s Rock Club and opening for local band Coyote Island at the Portland House of Music.
After their first opening gig at the Portland House of Music, they were asked to return.
“We’ll actually be back in a few weeks,” Hendricks told the owner – they were due to open again for Coyote Island. “No, I want you to be on the front page,” the owner replied.
Their first headline in April was the release of the band’s debut single, “A Chance”, which received over 3,000 streams on Spotify in its first three weeks. Their next single, “The Way”, will be released on May 20.
The group has a natural and fluid creative process. The occasional jams regularly turn into full-fledged songs.
“It’s nice that it all happens in one place,” Berger said of songwriting in their living room. “If there’s music playing, everyone knows what’s going on.”
“If Keenan is playing the piano by himself,” Haney explained, “and one of us walks in, we immediately start listening and we’re like, ‘Oh, what can I do with that.'”
Their range of sounds, from classic rock to funk to blues, changes from week to week depending on the bands they listen to, Berger said, and some of the songs they come up with never materialize.
“We’ll play (a song) for a week, then we’ll have a show this weekend and we’ll never go back to it again,” he said.
They have “an endless amount of voice memos” of half-written songs on their phones, Hendricks said.
This summer will make their first official East Coast tour, the result of much phone calls and commotion, they said. They will be touring in “The Rig” – a converted school bus they acquired in November.
“My parents knew someone in the Kennebunk school system, and they were trying to get rid of five buses,” Hendricks said. “We got the bus for $600…It was an auction. It looks like we were the only ones bidding, and that’s what we bid.
They gave the bus a makeover, with a sofa and beds inside, and, thanks to artist Pam Chevez, a new decal on the outside.
Hendricks still works at an art store in Portland, Haney is a personal trainer and nutrition coach, and Berger, who has put his back-to-school plans on hold, managed to fix and sell cars in the summer. last, saving enough money to just focus on making music.
But for the next two months, Rigometrics will get a taste of its dream. Starting in New York on Friday, they’ll play a total of 12 shows in Philadelphia, North Carolina, Virginia, Baltimore, Massachusetts and Maine, all of which they’ve self-booked. They will end with another headline show at the Portland House of Music on July 22 and, throughout the tour, plan to release two more singles ahead of their debut album.
“Obviously the dream is much, much bigger than that,” Haney said. “But now we have a base to build on.”
To listen, search Rigometrics on Spotify, Apple Music or other streaming platforms. For more information about the band and to buy tickets for their upcoming concerts, follow them on Instagram (@rigometrics) or find them on Facebook.
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