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The best kept secret in music



Story by Joseph Vilane
What makes a good band? No, what makes a great band? I think it’s really about work ethic, not necessarily when everyone is on the same page, but when they feel that they want to improve the project and make it the best it can possibly be. As a whole, it’s important when everyone believes in each other, when you know what sounds good, and you can just feel that there’s something there, something almost indescribable. In terms of dedication, Deepset (Jonathan Murphy vocals, Rick Baum guitar, Jeremy Slusher bass, Marcus Suarez drums) represents integrity in how they go about presenting their music. This is a band that truly goes out there to play the music that they love.

Deepset, the South Florida hard rock band has gained a good reputation for themselves since forming in early 2003. Jonathan Murphy, his high vocal range is something that surely stands out in this project. It’s about time more musicians started to treat their voice as an instrument once again. With a very unique approach to making music, you can’t help but take notice. “The name Deepset was a scavenger hunt in the dictionary, we needed a name that no one else had, ”explains guitarist Rick. “It’s an original name and we’re proud to say it’s ours.” With the name Deepset, you might think that it would throw people off at first glance, where they don’t know what to expect on stage, “I don’t know what the name envokes,” says Rick, “it wasn’t put in place for that, it just sounded cool. But I think the band makes the name, the name doesn’t make the band.”

When you think of a band, you shouldn’t necessarily rely on your immediate reaction, but a lot of people do. I asked Rick what he thinks of how people think in terms of music today. “Deepset sounds like a strong name to me, and hopefully it envokes the image of something heavy and meaningful. Some of the songs that we wrote on this cd, I just love. And I said to myself if I heard that song on the radio and didn’t know the band, I would want to know more and who the band is.” I think it’s really great how this band trusts their instincts, where if they feel a song is very special, there should be a vast majority of listeners who would feel the same way.

I can see that Jonathan has the long hair rockstar image. Unfortunately, there's a lot of musicians these days who look like they just got done pumping your gas, I asked Jonathan what’s his take on image in the music industry. “I think commercially, it’s obviously very important, there aren’t too many ugly bands that are very successful. Everybody is like, they’re breaking away from the long hair and all that kind of stuff so we’re all gonna have short hair, and we’re all gonna wear certain types of clothes. Just because it’s a different trend or different image doesn’t mean it’s any less a cliche. As far as anything else goes this is just how we are, this is the way we look all the time, so it works out well for us that it just happens to fit into that mold.”

A lot of bands these days are afraid to be themselves, Jonathan elaborated on this subject, “You get caught up, and you start to worry about what people want you to sound like. I can see how it would be easy to fall into that trap, and start changing what you’re gonna play to fit what you think people want to hear from you. But so far we’ve been pretty successful in keeping true to what we want to do, luckily so far people seem to be responding to it which is good. And hopefully if we keep down that road, and keep playing the stuff that we want to play we’ll find an audience that wants to listen to it. And that’s all we can hope for.”

In the song “Let’s fly Away,” Jonathan sings “Love Ain’t easy but it can’t be this hard,” I asked Jonathan what this song means to him, “A lot of the writing process for this song, it’s about a lot of the things I’ve experienced. It was something where you can be in a relationship with someone and make it more difficult than it has to be. Some people strive on the struggle, but that’s not what I’m all about. It’s not that I think things should be simple, but it shouldn’t be so painful. That song is about getting rid of all that stuff, you’ve been through the ringer, get away from it.” There are a lot of personal references on Deepset’s new CD, Jonathan has written poetry for a long time and it’s all based on emotional experiences, most of the lyrics on their cd are related from his life or they reflect an emotion that he’s had a lot of experience with.

The opening track on their cd, “Change the Game,” it really grabs your attention! “It’s interesting, it’s one of the heavier songs that we do, but it’s cool. It’s a great opener for the set, we try to open with that and get people jived up. This song is about when sometimes you’re trying to fit into a certain mold, wearing a mask that people think you should wear. I think you should step out of that.” Deepset takes their position very seriously, I asked Jonathan what he thinks about why so many other musicians today think otherwise, “I think you have to take it seriously if you want to be the best that you can be. I’m not satisfied with being a mediocre singer, or a good singer, I want to be a great singer. As a listener, I want to hear something that you put some time into, that’s how we treat everything we do.”

Some bands create a defensive reaction for abilities they don’t have, but Deepset tries to give 100 percent. With songwriting it’s important to challenge yourself, Jonathan discussed the bands writing process, “A lot of the stuff I come up with first or second is good, but when I’m bouncing ideas off Rick (guitarist), he’ll tell me if something sucks. It’s a real good team that way, he’s not afraid to tell me if something’s no good and we work well together that way.” Honesty is very important, and if you don’t have that in a band then you’ll end up going in circles. “I know that your instincts are good, but sometimes you really need to work on it and find the right spots, “ says Jonathan. “We don’t just want something that sounds just good enough, we want something that sounds great!”

I write all of my songs first on acoustic guitar, I asked guitarist Rick if he shares the same methods, “I’ve written most of my songs on acoustic guitar, until I start to feel a certain riff is developing into a possibility for a piece for a song then I’ll take it much further and present it to the band. Something’s really gotta strike me in my head, it’s really gotta speak to me inside and say this is going somewhere. If I don’t feel challenged, then I’m not happy.” There are so many labels in the industry today, Jonathan explains “It’s all marketing, it’s something for the consumer so they can have a grasp onto what kind of music it is. When you say you’re a rock and roll band no one knows what that means anymore. For some people that’s enough for them, where if they like one band they’re gonna like all bands in that category. And it’s sad because you stop giving other bands a chance because they don’t fall into that specific range that you’re comfortable with.”

I’ve been very impressed with the local scene here in South Florida, but some musicians lose focus of where they should be compared to where they want to be. “I think you can tell the difference between the bands who are really doing what they want to do versus what they think they should do” says Jonathan. “Local bands like ‘One’ and ‘Curse Icon’ are doing their thing and sounding great and people are reacting to it, they’re getting bigger. And bands like us, we do our own thing and we’re really having fun with what we’re playing and we’re playing the music that we love. And you see the responses, and you get the return that you want.” It really does show, when you have a great attitude on stage it has a way of spreading throughout the crowd.

Deepset’s live shows are where it’s all at, you can catch some of their next shows in Tampa and also in Ft Lauderdale. Naturally as human beings, we set goals for ourselves, it’s a part of life. Before we wrapped things up, I asked the band what their goals are both professionally and personally.

Jonathan: As far as Deepset goes, I want to take it as far as I can take it. I would hate to see us stop playing to together for a reason that’s not really powerful. As long as we can keep making music together, it’s fun, we’re all doing stuff that we want to do and we don’t lose sight, I think we can keep taking the next step. Personally, I thought I knew what I wanted to do until I joined the band. When I got in the band I realized that I love music and this is the perfect vehicle, this is an opportunity to make a living as a musician. Right now my goal is to see where this band can go.

Rick: Professionally, the long term goal is to be a huge band, and ultimately where I would be writing an article in a guitar magazine, and have my face in the corner writing my own licks for people to follow. To be recognized later down the line as a good musician is my long term goal. I want to do that with Deepset and personally, just to have some type of recognition that I worked hard and it’s recognized. I’ve got two kids, just for them to be happy and secure and to grow up and be self sufficient, those are my personal goals.

Jeremy: The ultimate goal is to make a living doing what you love. I’d love people to know I’m a good musician, I would love to get recognized as being a good musician like Rick said, but for me I’m the bass player, I’m the rhythm section, it’s much more about a good song. And my personal goal is to be a better human being everyday.

Marcus: Professionally I want to succeed in the band, and just go where ever it goes. Personally, I want to go back to school and study something outside of music.

Jeremy: “You can’t speculate as to where you’re going to be as a musician in ten years, the music industry is such a difficult nut to crack, and even if you crack it, it’s a difficult nut to stay in the shell.”
- Fort Lauderdale Rag Magazine


Deepset: 5 song EP
Change the Game
Lets Fly Away
Reach Out
Hold My Soul


Feeling a bit camera shy


Rocking the South Florida scene for over 2 years with a great reputation and fan base: Deepset is a modern day “Hard Rock Band” with musicianship and attitude hard to find in today’s scene. Self proclaimed "The hardest partying band is South Florida" Deepset never disappoints with their music or the after-party. The killer vocals of front man Jonathan Murphy are a breath of fresh air in a time when “singers” don’t sing, they grunt or scream. Guitarist Rick Baum has the rare ability to combine a metal edge with smooth melodies and brings showmanship back to the role of lead guitar. The thundering rhythm section of Marcus Suarez and Dave "The Beast" Spitz (formerly of Black Sabbath) are the backbone of the Deepset experience. Deepset gained international attention recently when Jonathan, Rick and Dave joined Nicko McBrain from Iron Maiden for a tour of North America in a project called McBrain Damage.