Combat Corduroy
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"Combat Corduroy's on the Move"

If there’s a harder-working band out there than indie rock outfit Combat Corduroy in the Kalamazoo area, you’d be hard pressed to find it. Now in the process of recording their third studio album, this foursome still maintains a consistent show schedule, which in and of itself keeps the guys pretty busy. Earlier last month they performed at Old Dog Tavern on a Friday, drove down to play at Goose Island in Chicago for Cinco de Mayo on Saturday, then traveled through the night to put on a 9:00AM performance back in Kalamazoo on Sunday morning.

And after beating out over 80 other groups in last year’s Blood, Sweat & Tears battle of the bands, Kalamazoo isn’t the only place watching these guys.

Three months ago a representative from Capitol Records approached the band about possibly representing them. In fact, on May 23rd they traveled down to Columbus, Ohio to record a single with a publisher from Universal Recording Company, marking the first time the band had worked with an outside producer. The single will be used by Capitol for promotional purposes.

“Most recently, and possibly most exciting is the invitation [we] received three days ago to attend a Label Showcase for major record label A&R rep, Kim Stephens,” Jon Petro, drummer for Combat Corduroy, informed me. Stephens works with some of the major record labels including Capitol, Atlantic and Universal, and is responsible for groups like Matchbox 20 and Collective Soul being signed.

If a steady show schedule and talks with record label reps aren’t enough, the guys are also in the process cranking out two music videos. “[We are] currently filming a music video for the song - kalamazoo Local Music


""Combat Corduroy - SNEAK PEEK""

I recently had the opportunity to connect with Jon Petro, drummer for local indie rockers Combat Corduroy, on some exciting things the group has in the works. And believe me when I say it’s pretty cool stuff. We’ll have all the details in a feature article right here on Kalamazoo Local Music coming soon.

As I was looking in to what Combat Corduroy is and has been doing, I naturally took a peek at their upcoming show schedule, and noticed they were playing a show at The Globe this coming Friday. Curious about the other bands on the bill, I clicked on the event link and yelled, “Holy freaking crap!” After having to explain my outburst and apologize to my co-workers, I promptly cleared my schedule for May 25th and prepared myself for a night full of awesome. - Kalamazoo Local Music


""Performer showdown: Kalamazoo's District Square is home to 'Blood, Sweat & Tears: The Final Round''"

KALAMAZOO — Since March, 16 local performers have been competing in the contest, “Blood, Sweat & Tears,” organized by Kirk Latimer and Gabriel Giron, of Kinetic Affect.
Every month, four artists displayed their talents and the top act moved on to the finals.
The top four — rapper RUSTA, hip-hop duo MizJes & Mich, pop-rock band Combat Corduroy and dance crew Kzoo Street KonQuerors — will square off starting at 7 p.m. July 7 at District Square, 139 S. Edwards St.
Admission is $7 and includes access to all Entertainment District venues at the intersection of West Michigan Avenue and South Edwards Street.

Latimer said they were “testing the waters” to see how the competition would go over. Latimer said, thanks in part to aggressive online marketing, the event has been a surprise, getting more interest than they originally thought.
Latimer said it “has generated the most diverse and largest groups” of people of all the events they’ve put on.
“It’s been really surprising actually,” he said. “We came into it blind.”
The variations in skill sets of artists makes the final round appealing, Latimer said. “It really boils down to who is grabbing the audience’s attention,” he said.

The event, sponsored by music websites Kalamazoo Local Music and Kzoo Music Scene, is meant to highlight lesser-known local acts, Latimer said.

The winner, as picked by judges, will make a music video from Latimer/Giron’s production company, Kinected Productions, as part of a promotional kit.

There will also be a prize selected by one of the sponsors and a surprise prize for the audience’s favorite, Latimer said.
Kalamazoo funk band Funk 211, featuring Gino Hinton who helped find talent for the competition, and DJ FLip will play between contest performances.

Based on its early showing, Latimer said he is planning to do similar events in the future, including branching out to other West Michigan communities. - Kalamazoo Gazette (MLive.com)


""The Big Event: Blood, Sweat and Tears competition moves into final round""

If it's the hard thing to do, it's probably the right thing. That's the philosophy driving one of Kalamazoo's newest entertainment offerings.

Blood, Sweat and Tears is a competition primarily for hip hop entertainers. After rounds of auditions, eight performers competed in preliminary rounds that started in March. There were Shneal and Rusta, two rappers; Combat Corduroy and Fly Paper, two bands; Mic Mich & MizJes, a hip hop duo; Wundamike, a hip hop singer; Bill Clements, the bassist; and Kzoo Street KonQuerors, an urban dance crew.

Now it's time for the finals. The final four will go head-to-head at 7 p.m. July 7. (That's 7-7-7 so it's easy to remember. And tickets are $7, too.) An underground rapper faces off with a hip-hop duo, a pop-rock band and an urban dance crew -- RUSTA vs. MizJes & Mich vs. Combat Corduroy vs. Kzoo Street KonQuerors.

Blood, Sweat and Tears is about performing artists coming together, collaborating in new ways and disciplining themselves to do more than just get by, says Kirk Latimer, a producer of the show better known locally for his role along with Gabriel Giron in the spoken word duo Kinetic Affect.

In between the competitive rounds the show will feature artists from many walks of life and a variety of musical forms: DJ FLiP, primarily a dubstep DJ; Funk 211, a live funk band that can perform just about any style; DC and Yolonda of Truth Tone Records, R&B and Hip Hop performers, and Mark Stephan, who uses humor in his music. He had a viral hit with "On Facebook."

Latimer calls the show a multimedia experiment in passion and performing arts. It merges modern media with age-old values and contemporary art. From an economic development standpoint it brings together a diverse number of artists and collaborators to create something that not only entertains, but helps drive people to excel in their craft, he says.

"A true passion is one that eats you alive," Latimer says. "It's a calling. The show is about moving people out of apathy and into action -- positive, reaffirming, motivating performing arts action."

The preliminary rounds for Blood, Sweat and Tears took place at Studio 246, the home base for Kinetic Affect. But the finals will be at District Square, where a bigger crowd can be accommodated.

Traver McLaughlin, of the Entertainment District, says the venue is a perfect fit for the Blood, Sweat and Tears concept. "Their studio cannot hold the amount of people expected for the Blood, Sweat, and Tears and we want to afford them the opportunity to continue their growth as an intricate part of Kalamazoo's development.

"It will be high energy, fun, and gives an outlet for artists to showcase their talents on a bigger stage," McLaughlin says. "This may not be the traditional form of performance art, like ballet or symphony. This is the new generation of art that needs to be celebrated."
- Second Wave Media - Growth News


""A rumor involving Combat Corduroy and the Black Crowes!""

There's a rumor that our friends Combat Corduroy will open for the Black Crowes at the Orbit Room in Grand Rapids on Sunday, July 27! The show is for ages 16 and up. Tickets are $35 in advance, $38 on the day of the show. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Also playing: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

Don't ask where I hear these things . . . I just do - Performing Arts Foundation


""Combat Corduroy - Bless the Flowers, Bless the Weeds, ALBUM REVIEW""

Combat Corduroy has a lot of fight in them, but they never fight dirty. Having won the local performance competition “Blood, Sweat & Tears” organized by the guys in Kinetic Affect this past summer, this four-piece pop-rock band proved their broad appeal with plenty of clean and catchy hooks. Their new album starts off simply, getting the party going with the bluesy licks and jammy grooves of “Good Times” before showing off their wider range of influences. Lead guitarist Andrew Watkins draws most of the spotlight with his frequently flashy solos (expertly captured in the studio here), but it’s vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Logan Castle’s heart at the center of these songs, and bassist Brandon Jennings and drummer Jon Petro rhythms, that’ll pull people in. Listen now at reverbnation.com/combatcorduroy - Recoil Magazine


""Combat Corduroy killed the place""

"Combat Corduroy killed the place" - Jeff Hill


""Rock solid: Ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, high school buddy Gary Kyes remain close after 33 years (with photo gallery, video)""

RICHLAND — At Gull Lake High School in 1978, Gary Kyes drove the coolest car, rocked the best sound system and dated the cutest girls. Jason Newsted was the new kid in class.
They forged an early bond, based mostly on their love of rock music, specifically bass guitar playing.
Newsted viewed Kyes as “indestructible.” Turns out he was right.
After high school, their paths diverged, their lives changed — Newsted spent 15 years as a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Metallica; Kyes was nearly killed in a car crash in 1992.
Their friendship, though, never wavered. It is still rock solid, and still about the music.

Same music, different venues

Doctors initially told Kyes he would never use his arms and legs again. They said he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair and require constant care. Doctors gave him 10 years to live.
But nearly 20 years later, Kyes owns a recording studio and is an inspiration to many, including Newsted, whose friendship, support and success have inspired Kyes.
Connie Kyes-Myland, Kyes’ younger sister, moved from Indiana to Grand Rapids in June to be closer to her brother and help care for him. She said Newsted and Kyes have been “good medicine for each other.” Her family refers to Newsted as “Uncle Jason,” a devoted family friend who stayed in close contact despite his celebrity status.
“He’s Jason, and I wouldn’t expect fame and fortune to change him. ... He’s true to the core and that doesn’t change with money, fame and rock ’n’ roll,” she said.
Newsted has always been able to jump-start Kyes’ spirits.
“Jason, being on the road, really kept Gary going,” Kyes-Myland said. “There have been many times when everything sort of piles up on him, and lo and behold, it’s time for Jason to visit. And boom, it’s the shot in the arm Gary needed.”
In return, her brother has helped Newsted stay grounded, in tune with his roots, she said.

The crash

On the night of Aug. 27, 1992, Kyes, who was then 30, went out for drinks with his neighbor, Jeffrey Lane Dahnke. Kyes, who had to work the next morning, left Green’s Tavern in Battle Creek around midnight and went to sleep in Dahnke’s car in the parking lot. Dahnke remained in the bar until it closed, before driving Kyes home.
Sometime between 2 and 3 a.m., Dahnke lost control of the car at North 37 Street and East CD Avenue in Ross Township — about a quarter mile from Kyes’ home — striking several trees and slamming, passenger-side first, into a telephone pole. Kyes woke up several hours later in an emergency room as doctors and nurses hovered over him.
“They were cutting my clothes off and getting ready to screw a halo into my skull,” said Kyes, now 49.
He suffered a severe spinal cord injury; doctors said Kyes would never have movement below his neck and might never get off a ventilator and breathe on his own.
Dahnke was not seriously hurt.
During Dahnke’s sentencing in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court in April 1994, Judge John Foley said Dahnke’s previous convictions for impaired driving should have served as a “warning” for him. Dahnke’s blood-alcohol level the morning of the crash was 0.24 percent. The legal limit then was 0.10 percent; today, it’s 0.08 percent.
Dahnke received five years of probation and, under a civil settlement he signed, agreed to pay Kyes $82 a week in restitution for the rest of his life, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette archives. Dahnke apologized in court and his attorney, David Butler, said Dahnke was alcohol free, the Gazette reported.
“Mr. Dahnke would be willing to substitute his body for Mr. Kyes’. Words probably are not enough to express the depth of grief” he feels, Butler told the judge.
Kyes’ attorney, Victor Bland, last week said his client showed leniency in the charges he sought against Dahnke, considering the severity of Kyes’ injuries.
“I think Gary thought, by doing Dahnke a favor, he’d get a favor in return — that being a steady payment,” Bland said.
Kyes said Dahnke has paid a little more than $3,000 and stopped making payments not long after the court case was adjudicated. The men have not talked in years, Kyes said.
Since Dahnke was sentenced in Kyes’ case in 1994, he has been arrested twice for operating while impaired — in 2002 and 2010. Both of those arrests came in the Lansing area, according to Michigan State Police records. The resolution of those charges is not known.
The Gazette could not reach Dahnke for comment for this story.

A world away

Hundreds of miles away on tour with Metallica, Newsted learned of his friend’s spinal-cord injury. Newsted left during the band’s tour with Guns ’N’ Roses to visit Kyes in the hospital. From Kyes’ hospital room, the two watched as Metallica appeared on the MTV Video Music Awards.
“He was not aware of his condition yet. But some of us were by what we’d been told,” Newsted said. “We tried to keep it really cool. ... I just remember being over him and talking to him and keeping everything the way it always was.”
Metallica’s tour with Guns N’ Roses had Midwest shows scheduled in a few weeks. Kyes told Newsted he wanted to be there.
“I’m cool as long as I can still head bang,” Kyes quipped.
Newsted knew how grave Kyes’ condition was, but maintained a positive front.
“I had to keep it on the up-and-up,” he said. “‘Dude, we’re going to rock!’” Newsted told Kyes.
Kyes, on and off life-support treatment, didn’t make it to any of the Midwest shows. Eventually, he entered rehabilitation, where small gains — such as sitting up on his own without vomiting — were big victories.
But in the back of Kyes’ mind, a date — Jan. 22, 1993 — loomed large.
On that night, Metallica was scheduled to play at Kalamazoo’s Wings Stadium, the venue where Kyes and Newsted saw numerous shows together, including a Ted Nugent concert where the Motor City Madman drove by them in an old truck honking and waving at fans before he took the stage.
No one thought Kyes could make Newsted’s homecoming. Almost no one.

Friendship forged

Newsted was born in Battle Creek in 1963. His family moved to Richland in the summer of 1978 and he enrolled as a sophomore, the same grade as Kyes, at Gull Lake High School.
The two quickly became friends. They skied at Timber Ridge in Otsego, listened to vinyl records and cassettes from AC/DC, Rush, Motorhead and Nugent. They partied and learned to play the bass guitar together. When their friends gathered, Kyes and Newsted usually outlasted everyone, staying up late and talking music.
“Jason was awesome,” Kyes-Myland said. “He was the new kid. I was pretty excited to be the sister of the new kid’s best friend. And so were my friends.”
By his junior year, Newsted started bringing his new bass guitar to class. When he upgraded to another guitar, he sold his first one to Kyes for $40. Kyes learned the instrument, too. They’d skip school and jam in Newsted’s basement.
By March, Newsted had immersed himself in music and dropped out of school. In October 1981, Newsted moved west with Tim Hamlin, also a friend of Kyes, to pursue their music dreams. Hamlin and Newsted were members of the band Gangster; Kyes stayed in Richland and finished school.
Newsted formed the thrash metal band Flotsam and Jetsam in 1982 in Arizona. The band opened for well-known bands and put out its debut album, “Doomsday for the Deceiver,” in the summer of 1986. A few months later, Cliff Burton, bassist for Metallica, died when the band’s touring bus overturned in Sweden.
Newsted beat out some 40 other bassists to become Metallica’s newest member.


‘My anti-depressant’

In 1988, Metallica released “And Justice for All,” garnering the band its first Grammy Award nomination in the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrument Category, but the band Jethro Tull won the award.
The band performed a sold-out concert at the Pontiac Silverdome in June of that year. Kyes and Newsted’s family attended the show — the first time any of them had seen him perform live with Metallica.
“Chills up and down the spine, you know. Knees starting to wobble as you look up on that stage sitting front row,” Kyes recalled of the concert.
“I really had a hard time composing myself and keeping my persona on stage,” Newsted said.
Kyes assumed he would see Newsted perform live again — just not in a wheelchair, fighting for his life.
By November 1992, three months after the car accident, Kyes was a patient at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids. Metallica was due to play at Wings Stadium in three months.
At the hospital, Kyes regained limited movement in his arms, allowing him to type and control his wheelchair. He also remained focused on his immediate goal: attending the Metallica concert.
“That was my motivation,” Kyes said of his rehabilitation. “I had Metallica pictures by my bed. ... He (Jason) was my anti-depressant.”
Metallica performed on Jan. 22, 1993, in front of a sold-out Wings Stadium crowd of 8,100, which included Kyes. Just as Nugent had years earlier, the well-paid Newsted drove to the concert in his old rusted truck. Kyes arrived in style in a limousine.
“He’s always had the cool ride, always the coolest suite at the hotel. Everything’s dialed,” Newsted said.

A new jam

With $50,000 from a civil settlement with the owners of Green’s Tavern, Kyes in 1993 started construction on the home he now lives in, with space set aside in the basement for a recording studio.
In 2005, he founded Koyez Productions, which he runs from his home studio and as a mobile recording operation.
When Kyes completed the basement studio more than 18 months ago, Newsted was the first to record in it.
Today, many local musicians see Kyes as an invaluable colleague, said Jon Petro, a family friend of Kyes who also helps in the studio. Petro’s band, Combat Corduroy, recorded its album, “Bless the Flowers, Bless the Weeds,” in the studio and released it in October.
Petro said Kyes has provided several struggling musicians with a place to live, asking for nothing in return. Kyes said he enjoys using his skills to make music, even though he can’t play. His home also acts as a quasi-counseling center for those who need to talk about their troubles.
“He’s always been an inspiration for myself and everyone else. There’s a lot of kids he’s helped and given a chance to record. ... He’s never given up,” Petro said.
“He’s the real hero,” said Newsted, who left Metallica in 2001.
Music remains a major part of the friendship between Newsted and Kyes, although arm and shoulder injuries have somewhat hampered Newsted’s ability to play.
They share a new creative interest, however, as Newsted has become an accomplished painter.
Two years ago, while visiting for the holidays, Newsted shared his love of painting with Kyes. He brought supplies to Kyes’ house and fixed a paint brush to Kyes’ hand brace. They broke out their old cassette tapes from high school and painted a series of pieces that adorn the walls around Kyes’ home.
“This is how we jam now,” Newsted said. - Kalamazoo Gazette (MLive.com)


""Everything's Coming up Combat Corduroy""

"'Bless the Flowers, Bless the Weeds', just dropped this fall. Recorded with KOYEZ Production the new CD is a much closer indication of the band's current sound since the departure of Annie Jennings. "Listen to our tunes. They'll sell themselves," says Watkins. Combat Corduroy will be playing at the Strutt on December 16th (Courtesy of Kzoo Music Scene, part of "The Launch" Kick-Off Party), at the Old Dog Tavern on December 29th and at the Intersection in Grand Rapids January 8th. Possibly even more exciting is that the boys will be releasing a music video for their song "Her" in the Spring of 2012; their prize for winning at Blood, Sweat and Tears. If you haven't checked them out yet this needs to change as they may be one of the faster rising bands in Kalamazoo today, which could mean they'll be one of the tops bands in the state tomorrow." - Kzoo Music Scene


Discography

"Bless the Flowers, Bless the weeds" (Full Length Album), released 2011.

"Family Blood" (Full Length Album), to be released 2013.

Photos

Bio

All the way from Kalamazoo, MI, Combat Corduroy has worked it's way into the ears and minds of the music culture. From the beginning of the band, through the growth, to the present, Combat Corduroy has been and will continue to play the best damn tunes this side of the Mississippi. The band consists of lead singer/guitarist Logan Castle, trained in blues and birthed in rock, bassist Brandon Jennings, funk with a sultry taste of classical cello, lead guitar Andrew Watkins, Metallica meets Phish, and on drums Jon Petro, the reincarnation of John Bonham. These four brothers have come together to make rock that makes your ears tingle at the very thought.