Between them all, you could try to count the instruments they play on your fingers, but you’d have to take off your shoes to finish up. You could also try playing “stump the band” with any kind of musical question you could think of and lose… badly. Take that new band The Afters and add a girl singer with some Kelly Clarkson-like chops, and the experience of a Sheryl Crow and you have Breathing Room. They straddle the fence between caring deeply and holding things loosely, between working in the trenches and keeping their faith before them. And for writing songs that speak to the believer and the doubter alike. Says good friend, Mike Elizondo, producer and musician for Dr. Dre, Fiona Apple, Nelly Furtado, Pink, and currently Maroon 5, “The Christian market needs a band like Breathing Room. These guys have got it all going on! And I also know their hearts are as genuine for God as their music is genuinely commercial.”
Breathing Room began as a writing partnership between Kevin Dukes and Jan Roper, a yin and yang relationship, if there ever was one. Kevin, the cerebral tech geek, rock guitarist for Billy Joel, Jackson Browne, Shania Twain, and Don Henley to name a few, and Jan, keyboardist and singer, balancing a life of worship leading and directing music at a large church with sessions and live gigs in L.A. “In Breathing Room, the musicianship speaks for itself, but our true focus is on connecting with our audience, no matter the size or the venue”.
And next came Dan Franklin, bassist, singer and guitarist primarily, but also plenty proficient on keys, drums, and many brass and woodwinds, too. He’s played and/or toured with LeAnn Rimes, Jennifer Paige, Kellie Coffey and
Aaron Lines. “When you’re trying to focus on making a living as a player, it’s not every day that you get a chance to play music like this with a message that matters. It’s refreshing, to say the least!”
Rounding out the band is Chad Norris, who comes out of Dropline, one of David Foster’s courtings for his 143 record label. “Playing well written songs with great musicians is always a pleasure, but when those songs have a heart for Christ, it takes it to a higher level.”
Breathing Room’s EP, “Restoration Area” and debut CD “Coming Clean” is available on iTunes, Digstation, and other digital outlets.
Jan Roper - Vocals and Keyboards
Kevin Dukes - Guitar
Dan Franklin - Bass
Chad Norris - Drums
2006 - Restoration Area EP - 3 tracks
2007 - Coming Clean CD - 11 tracks
Local Band Finds Room to Breathe
[+ Show ]
By Fred Shuster, Music Writer Article Last Updated: 03/08/2007 04:45:34 PM PST In the hands of...By Fred Shuster, Music Writer
Article Last Updated: 03/08/2007 04:45:34 PM PST
In the hands of currently buzzing local band Breathing Room, spiritual power-pop rocks.
The quartet, which has been operating for two years, has a clean, expansive sound highlighted by the fine vocals of Jan Roper, who worked as a studio singer and musical director before putting her energies into the band.
Prior to forming Breathing Room with top session guitarist Kevin Dukes, Roper — who also plays keyboards in the group — was leading and directing music at a Chatsworth church and handling pop sessions and corporate gigs in Los Angeles and beyond.
Rather than continue doing record dates and shows merely for a paycheck, Roper and Dukes agreed they wanted to create original music with deeper meaning.
"There's definitely a Christian element," says Roper, who lives in Chatsworth. "The music is meant to be inspirational. But we're not trying to hit anyone over the head."
Adds Dukes: "We started writing to have some songs to share with our church and got caught off guard when people asked where they could buy a CD. It's really cool to be part of that kind of connection."
Breathing Room, which also includes bassist Dan Franklin and drummer Chad Norris, appears at 7 tonight at West Hills Church and
on March 17 at the Verity Room in Canoga Park. In August, the band will open for the Little River Band at Warner Center Park.
The foursome has a following. "Their music lets people know that no matter if you feel defeated, you're not alone in this world," said CSUN student Sandy Ramos of Mission Hills, who has caught Breathing Room about five times and plans to be in the audience tonight.
The West Hills Church date marks the release of Breathing Room's 11-track album, "Coming Clean," available at gigs, through the band's various Internet pages and at iTunes. Songs like the title track deal with "getting real and leaving pretense behind," Roper explains.
Along with local fans, Breathing Room has friends at Project Teamwork, a Florida-based volunteer group that is rebuilding homes on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The band's track "On Your Side" is the basis for the relief group's new promotional video, to be screened for the first time this evening in West Hills.
Roper says Breathing Room is looking forward to focusing a bit more on the club circuit, although she has no illusions about the business side of the scene.
"Right now, it's very hard to play clubs in this city," says the red-haired singer, who works as worship leader at Church for the Nations in Studio City. "First of all, there's no pay. And a lot of clubs want you to pay to play. We love church concerts, but we like playing in secular locations, too."
For his part, ex-session cat Dukes — whose resumé includes work with Don Henley, Shania Twain, Billy Joel and Jackson Browne — says Breathing Room's songs are designed for audiences of any kind.
"It's not hard to cross over," said Dukes, who lives in Woodland Hills. "We've all done a lot of stuff — and a lot of our stuff is inspirational by nature, not overtly religious. Subtlety is probably the best way to get the message across."
Our set list depends on the venue. For a church concert we would emphasize our worship songs (North Star, Faithful, Bless Your Name). For a concert in a secular venue, we would emphasize the more mainstream pop songs in our set (On Your Side, Whatcha Waiting For, Change). We also might include a couple of covers.