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Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | SELF

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | SELF
Band Rock Pop


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Simplified puts its name to work for its rock ’n’ roll"

“Brighter Days” are on the horizon for Charlotte, N.C.-based band Simplified — literally.

The group’s new album, produced by Jerry DePizzo of rock band O.A.R., carries that title, and the songs on it fit the band’s moniker — straightforward, no-frills, rock ‘n’ roll. It’s melodic in the same vein as Augustana or The Fray, catchy, anthemic — everything a good rock ‘n’ roll band needs to cultivate a loyal following that knows it’ll have a good time whenever the guys come to town, as they’ll do on Thursday, April 7, at Barley’s Taproom in Knoxville’s Old City.

“Clee (Laster) and I got together back in 2001 or 2002,” guitarist Chris Sheridan said of the band’s origin. “We wanted to play music, but we didn’t really have a plan or anything. We basically auditioned players at an open mic night, and it kind of evolved over a period of a couple of years before we got serious. Eventually, we realized we had something that was kind of special.

“People always commented on how we had this really great sound. We never set out to go after something specific; it was really based on all the genres that everybody in the band liked at the time. We never said we were going to be a rock ‘n’ roll band. When we’re on the road, you hear everything coming out of our stereo — bluegrass; even metal sometimes.

“I think that it’s a sound that’s developed over a period of a few years, and it’s brought us to where we’re at now,” he added. “I think the new CD kind of encapsulates that.”

There’s something to be said for a band that doesn’t complicate its music. Sure, there are a few extraneous flourishes on “Brighter Days” — a hint of reggae here and there, for instance. But it only embellishes the feel-good grooves that anchor the entire disc, a sunny, upbeat sound that’s tailor-made for a night of singing along near the front of the stage, arms wrapped around good friends and drinks in hand.

It’s no wonder that DePizzo took an interest in the guys after both bands met in 2007. A mutual friend introduced both groups, and they set up a private jam session with O.A.R.

“The first time we met them and they got on stage, it was pretty awesome actually,” Sheridan said. “We got to really see how they acted and how professional they were. I was a fan before I met them, and I’d bought some CDs and stuff, but when you see guys on that level and how professional and tight they are from playing together for so long, it becomes one of those things you strive for to make yourself better.

“It’s not about one individual playing and showing off his chops; it’s about playing together, and that’s what those guys do. They play so well together, and it influenced us all. Any band can get better and improve; they showed us that, and we strive for it as well.”

After going out on the road with O.A.R., the guys in Simplified talked about recording an album in 2010. DePizzo invited the band to record with him in Columbus, Ohio, and in January, the band traveled to the Buckeye State and spent three weeks working with him.

“Everybody Jerry brought into the project pushed us as songwriters to make the songs the best we could,” Sheridan said. “Some of the songs we’ve been playing out for a little while; we like to test the material in front of a live audience. Some of the songs we’ve dug on for a little while now, and he really pushed us to make them what they are.”

The band is looking forward to returning to East Tennessee next week and showcasing the new tunes for its Knoxville following. Simplified is no stranger to this area, having played at various venues since first hitting the Southeastern tour circuit several years ago. In fact, he said with a laugh, Knoxville has usually been a place of unusually enthusiastic reception — by fans and by the band members themselves.

“I remember a few years ago, we had a friend who was running The Comedy Zone, and he invited us to come by after a show one night,” Sheridan said. “The place was closed, and we tore that room up. It was a real party; I felt bad for the cleaning crew the next day. I don’t think we would ever be invited to do that again.”

- The Daily Times

"Live Show Review of The Great Atlantic Music Festival"

When I arrived at 6:00pm, Simplified was ready to launch its set. The group comes from Charlotte, North Carolina and has been slugging away for five years. Fronted by Clee Laster, the 6' 7" lead singer and guitarist, the group's 2007 album, Smile won Best Rock Album of 2007 at the Charlotte Music Awards.

Chris Sheridan provides the colorful lead guitar stylings that are always in context with the subtleties of the songs. Chris is not a grandstander, but he gets into the music with inspired fervor. His lead work is in perfect sync with Clee's masterful acoustic guitar playing. On bass, Chris Lynch holds down a funky bottom end which is in the groove pocket with Tim Lail's creative drumming which is especially notable in a world of mediocre percussionists.

Listening to Simplified live, I actually got excited about music again. The group played songs from their 2007 album Smile and their latest 2008 album Elephant Sky. Man, the title cut opens with a clever guitar riff that grabs the listener by the neck and says, "Listen to this!" Then the break drops off the ledge and hits you in the diaphragm. This song will take your breath away with its twangy electric sound blended into Clee's acoustic guitar and soft vocals.

There's something wonderful about this group's music that levitates the listener into a joyous state of mind. Hey, that's the way music used to make me feel before the wretched crap-rap and dark-metal sent popular music into the dark ages of the 90s and early 2000s.

- EUJacksonville

"Shake, Rattle & Know"

On Sunday, The Beach Shack in Cocoa Beach will feature the innovative sounds of Charlotte, N.C.-native rockers Simplified. A "must see" live band whose on-stage show is nothing short of spectacular, Simplified harmoniously blends several genres of music into an eclectic blend all its own.
Comprising Clee Laster (vocals/ guitar), Chris Sheridan (guitar), Chris Lynch (bass) and Tim Lail (drums), Simplified is a fun, refreshing change from your ordinary rock and roll. With insightful lyrics and a penchant for the extreme, Simplified is expanding its fan base one city at a time.

I spoke with Clee Laster about the band, its music and its future plans. So lets "Shake, Rattle & Know": Simplified.

SRK: How have you been able to string together such an impressive tour without the support of a major record label?

Laster: We've just been playing a lot, and we get out there and hustle. We use every avenue we have at our disposal, whether it's MySpace or whatever. We also are grateful for the tremendous word-of-mouth advertising people give us after a show. We started in Charlotte and played beach towns up and down the coast, and the word spread from there.

SRK : You've been described as a blend of reggae, rock, folk and funk. How are you able to incorporate so many different styles without losing focus on a unified sound?

Laster: We all come from different backgrounds and have different influences, so it's natural those would all come out in our music. We think the music has blended well. We started out just jamming together and everyone listening to each other and we grew from there.

SRK : What is the toughest challenge you face as an unsigned band?

Laster: Just getting in front of people can be a challenge. It's tough to find new crowds to play for sometimes.

SRK: What makes Simplified unique?

Laster: We have a good time, and it shows in our music. People tell us all the time that if you haven't seen or heard us live, you haven't really heard us at all.

SRK : How important do you feel MySpace and other social media sites are to an emerging artist like Simplified?

Laster: It's ridiculous. Without sites like that, we would be nowhere. Every time we go to a new city, we are able to go on there, find new friends and fans and let them know we are coming. It is probably the biggest help to any band.

- Metromix

"Free Times Music Excerpt ."

Simplified - Ever wonder which of the Queen City's myriad bands is its best? According to the readers of Creative Loafing, it's Simplified, which peddles a brand of funky, frat-friendly pop-rock akin to Jack Johnson and Hootie and the Blowfish. The band recently opened for O.A.R. at Auburn University, and, indeed, it's a good pairing: Like O.A.R., Simplified's music is light on the tricks and flash and heavy on the organic feel-good vibes, mixing folksy acoustic tendencies with jam-lite electric arrangements. Hey, Occam was right: The simplest approach is often the best. - Free-Times

"Keeping It Simplified"

Ever heard that old saying, "K.I.S.S. — Keep it simple, stupid"? Not that any of the four members of Simplified are stupid by any means, but they've been keeping it simple, and it works. The band has created a solid fan base in Charlotte — a CD-release party earlier this year at the Visulite sold out — and is slowly growing in popularity in other Southeastern markets.
Instead of spreading itself thin, the band has played regular gigs around the city, including a weekly spot at Mac's Speed Shop on South Boulevard. Thanks to grassroots word-of-mouth advertising and performances at a variety of local venues, the band's fanbase has increased enough where it can play four or five shows a week and no member needs a "regular" day job. Instead, days are spent handling management duties -- marketing, merchandise, hotel booking, etc. -- or songwriting.

"We did a run over the summer that was 13 shows in a row," guitarist Chris Sheridan says. "Our major concentration has been in the Southeast and we're trying to now stay on the road as much as possible now -- within a four-hour radius because of gas prices."

The band of 30-somethings -- Sheridan, Clee Laster (vocals/guitar), Chris Lynch (bass) and Tim Lail (drums) -- formed nearly five years ago as the quartet they are today. Originally, Laster and Sheridan were performing acoustically when they met Lynch. They then found Lail as the percussionist. "Clee and I were doing an open mic and secretly auditioning people," Sheridan says. "People also responded to an ad we posted on bandtastic online."

Sheridan recalls Lail saying the band's music "needed some ass to it," and Laster agrees that the early recordings were slow and sleepy. The duo was looking for musicians with personality and similar goals who could help create their own sound -- and that's what they got. "We'd get to jam with people who played bass and drums, but we wanted to do that all the time," Laster says.

Trying to describe Simplified's music is no easy task. It's got hints of Sublime, Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson, but there's also rock, blues, reggae and funk. "There are so many styles that we incorporate," Sheridan says. "I think you said it best (in a Music Menu item in Creative Loafing) that it's more of a mood than a genre."

The band has always had originals in its setlist, but would throw in occasional covers -- done in the band's style -- to help get gigs. As repeat performances grew at a venue, they would slowly weed out the cover songs. "A lot of places don't want us to do originals, but usually when they hear them, they like them and we get invited back," Sheridan says. Laster says they abandoned working on new covers roughly three years ago.

They also tailor the set to the venue they're playing. For Mac's, it's more relaxed, and Laster says, "It's like playing on a back porch for a bunch of our friends." On the other hand, they look at the Visulite as a stand-up full-energy show to get everyone moving. These days, it may seem like the band is popping up all over the local music scene as something new and fresh, but they haven't forgotten that it's been a long road, five years in the making, to this point. There have been plenty of gigs with small crowds and rough moments where someone has quit -- each member has "quit" the band at least once. No one has quit in the last two years though, Laster notes with a laugh.

As for Simplified's name, it was suggested by a fan. "It's one word, it's memorable and it was perfect," Sheridan says. The band has released four albums so far, including an EP, a live album recorded at the Visulite and its debut studio effort, 2006's Smile. Its latest CD, Elephant Sky, was released in April of this year. There is talk of the band's next album, possibly acoustic and being recorded with Jamie Hoover, being released next year. Though they say there's enough material for two albums -- one acoustic and one regular.

Sheridan says when they play, it now feels like a party and he's sure some people only show up to simply be there -- and probably check out the women who make up 75 percent of their fans. "We want people to feel like they're going to an event," Lail says. Lynch agrees -- "We want people to feel like they are as much a part of our show as we are. They all sing and dance and it feeds our energy to put on a better show."

As for how they've changed in that time, the quartet agrees that songwriting is now more of a collaborative process, and they've also got a better understanding of the business side. "We're much better songwriters now and better listeners," Sheridan says. "We never made a conscious effort with our sound, but it's more mature now. We're self-managed now and have an agent and publicist."

All the hard work seems to be paying off. Aside from the loyal fanbase in Charlotte, the band is increasing its viewership in the region. The band's next-largest markets are Wilmington, N.C., and Columbia and Charleston, - Creative Loafing


Genre: Rock/Acoustic
Location: Charlotte, NC sits down with Chris Sheridan of Simplified

Summary: A beautiful night in Charlotte, lead to a hum of a crowded concert floor. Injected with a great group of friends and rabid fans alike ready for not just a party but an amazing rock show on the stage at the Visulite Theatre in Charlotte, NC sets the scene for what was awaiting me when I arrived for Simplified. First I got to see the end of the Chad Mackey's set and shot a single song Gallery here. Walked the perimeter of the venue looking through the crowd to see some very recognizable Charlotte music icons of my time, which gave me a pretty good indication I was about to see something a little more than spectacular. Boy was I right! There was a heavy dose of true talent flowing on the stage and the energy hit the fans with a vengeance. Some of the songs were upbeat and made you move, some had you swaying and following your musical heart into the back of your eyelids while still in forever motion. I enjoyed the energy, the experience, the solid song writing, and most of all getting to do what I do best...experience the music; getting lost in notes and angelic vocals with powerful depth of meaning and connection. It's not only a band playing music for you, but playing just for you. Those moments us concert goers look for. What a beautiful night, what an amazing show. Here is an interview I held with Chris Sheridan the day after the show.

Introduce yourself and what you do in the band?
My name is Chris Sheridan I play lead guitar for the band.

Your known on the circuit for genre bending, what would you classify your music as?

We are definitely a rock band we have undertones of reggae some funk that kind of stuff. If you have to classify us we are definitely a rock oriented band. Though a lot of people ask us, how do you describe your music? We're a rock band but we do get a lot of comparisons to Sublime and Dave Matthews Band type thing. Rock!

Interviewer (Dianna): I can definitely hear the Dave Matthews reference at the show the other night

How has touring been going?

It's going great! We play on average about 250 shows a year for the past 4 years together almost 6 years. We've done over 1500 hundred shows, well over that. So it's great focused mainly in the South East but we have reached out as far as New Orleans and we've up as far as Michigan and Wisconsin and Chicago.

You guys have recorded a few albums now, how has your sound changed from then to now?

Well when we started we never really had a goal of what we wanted to sound like, or who we wanted to sound like. We just wanted to do what we wanted to do, write the songs we wanted to write that sort of thing. There has definitely been a progression in the song writing as well as the production of the albums. I mean it's just one of those things you mature as a song writers and things change gradually it's a thing you don't really, you can't really put anything down like the others as it changes everyday. Like someone that has just been introduced to our music might find that our first EP is much different than what the next record is going to be. We just try to keep things open as we're independent we've been doing what we want to do. No one has been telling us how to write or what to sound like.

Your fan base is vast it's dense in the college crowd making your shows almost like big parties to me when I was there, everyone was having an amazing time. I read you opened up for O.A.R. how was that show? How did it feel to play to a crowd that huge compared to the big party?

We've known those guys for about 2 1/2 years we've done a party with them that we all jammed together and then we've opened up actually two shows for them. One last year in Auburn and one this year for the NASCAR revved up event. Obviously we get excited to do stuff like that there is a lot of energy at their shows as well as shows at the Visulite. It's one of our local venues that is one of our favorite and it brings a LOT of energy and the audience does too. We feed off the energy and off each other and it really makes the show.

You guys have any guilty pleasure artists that we would all be shocked to hear you listen to?

Everybody in the band comes from a different background musically that is one reason we have the sound that we have. We're always listening to different things and into different stuff. Not really, one of Chris' (bass player) favorite artists is Ani Defranco, which might be a little shocking to some. I know Tim (drummer) he listens to a lot of heavier stuff like Disturbed or something like that as well as country stuff. Clee's background consists of R&B Otis Redding, Van Morrison one of his favorites. My background is a lot of Dave we all listen to a lot of Kings of Leon now. We have total respect for those guys, great band, and great song writers. -


Live At The Visulite-2005
Elephant Sky-2008
Brighter Days - 2011



Simplified expands cleverly on music that sounds familiar, but is decidedly different. Tunes trip down a trail of neatly packaged stories, chocked with innovative musicianship, classy, cool lyrics and authentic vocals. Simplified manages a unique and singular musical kingdom, shuffling from sweet ballads to guitar driven power rock songs to reggae tinged sing alongs. The magnetic quality of Simplified is anchored in authenticity, and it’s indeed this pure, uncomplicated approach to music and performance that keeps fans engaged and supportive.

Since 2004, Simplified has played thousands of shows. The band’s album, Live at the Visulite, captured the dynamic energy of a Simplified performance and the group polished tunes from the live record with the release of studio recordings, Smile and Elephant Sky both hugely popular among reviewers as well as fans. Simplified’s status as a popular power quartet garnered invitations to share the stage with O.A.R, Blues Traveler, Edwin McCain and The Wailers.

Simplified has cultivated a musical presence as well as visual statement as NASCAR Media Group’s Emmy Award winning Camp Riley directed and produced the group’s stunning videos of Home and Sugar Tree.

Never contrived or calculated, Simplified continues to cultivate a roots movement placing songs, performance and fans first. The intrinsic genuine energy of Simplified’s music raises the band above the fray, outside the ordinary, and into the future.