by Rachel Remington
From grunge to classic country, heavy metal to reggae, Whatcom Community College is the school that a number of students in bands are currently attending. Some are local bands that started right in Bellingham, and some are from much farther away.
Jeff Pressley, 30, is a member of a local band called “The Crafty Bastards”, and the band has been together for about 14 years, although the current drummer hasn’t been with them for quite as long. The band originated in southern Idaho, where the members grew up together. “We’re all friends from high school,” said Pressley. “We’re a transplant band.”
Pressley described the genre of his band as “kind of like Sublime meets Johnny Cash meets Bad Religion.” The diverse musical styles of their band have made it easier for them to play with more of a variety of bands. “We’ve played with metal bands, and we’ve played with reggae bands,” said Pressley.
Although performing on stage and being able to perform with close friends are great advantages to being in the band, Pressley said that it’s challenging to find good gigs to play at, and to make much money at performing. Money isn’t his motivation though, because being able to be part of a band with all good friends is enough for him to continue.
Lance Bertram, 18, has recently become part of a band called “Black”, but has been in other bands in the past as well. He described the genre of his band’s musical style as “a mix of blues and ‘Soundgarden’/‘Alice in Chains’ type music.” His band performs regularly at open mic nights at the Three Trees Coffeehouse in downtown Bellingham. They also performed at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, and “made a lot of money in a very short amount of time.”
Bertram started playing percussion at 5 years old, but switched to playing guitar at age 9 because his dad played, and his dad taught him guitar until age 11, when he started taking lessons. He became passionate about guitar. “I used to play until my fingers bled,” said Bertram.
Jorge Cantu, 21, is a guitarist for a band in Bellingham called “Farewell Austerity”. The band has been together since 2005, and Cantu replaced the previous guitarist Will Allinson. He has been in the band for three years, and plays guitar and sings backup vocals.
The death metal band plays most of their shows at Studio 7 in Seattle, and they have opened for many bands touring through Seattle, such as the band “Hell Within”. The band placed in the top 10 in a competition to play in “Warped Tour”. Although the band has had a lot of success, they have struggles like any other band.
“The hardest thing is getting along with all your members and making sure everyone stays focused,” said Cantu. Despite the difficulties of being in a band, the benefits outweigh the struggles for Cantu. “Making the music and playing in shows is my favorite thing about being in a band,” said Cantu.
Being part of a band doesn’t come easy, but with dedication and passion, most people can succeed if they try. “Talent is something you strive for. It’s not something you’re given,” said Pressley.