The Instruction
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The Instruction

Louisville, Kentucky, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | INDIE

Louisville, Kentucky, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2005
Band Alternative Rock




"American Democracy"

American democracy

The Instruction released their debut album, Failure By Design, in the summer of 2009. Its follow-up is coming … eventually.

Though the band released an EP online last year, work on the sophomore album, Monster Maker, has been more challenging. A release date in late summer is hoped for now. Most of the recording is finished, they say, but there’s still more work to be done before it can be consumed.

This time, they hope for a vinyl release, as well as a digital version. Why vinyl? “I don’t know, to be honest,” singer/guitarist Blake Sakal laughs. “I like the artwork that goes along with it. For ours, I think it’d be cool … it’s been so long since we’ve released a record, it’d just be cool to hold a vinyl copy.”

“It gives you a nostalgic medium to go back and make a piece of art all the way around,” says bassist Jeremy Stein.

Sakal and Stein are the original members left. “To keep our name out there and play live, a lot of times we’ll spend time teaching the new guys the songs,” says Stein. “Then, slowly get into the songwriting process.”

They’re slow writers. And “we might write seven bridges to the same song and then not use any of them, and it takes us another year before we come up with something we actually like,” Stein says. “We like to perfectionize everything we come out with.”

Teaching their old songs has helped them see how they’ve grown, Sakal says. “You appreciate things more. As far as the first record goes, we spent, I think, seven days total on the entire nine songs — including mix, everything! It’s almost like a live record, with a bunch of kids who didn’t know what they were doing.”

Taking time has allowed for new sounds, incorporating a banjo and a theremin borrowed from Wax Fang.

“There’s never a bad time to make a record,” Stein says. “You just can’t hold it up as the best thing you’ve ever done, because you never know what you’re going to do next.” - Peter Berkowitz

"The Instruction- Listen, Learn, Love" -

"Excerpt from Forecastle Festival Review"

The Instruction was a solid, hard-rock band with an infallible ear for pop hooks – this is definitely a band that will probably be smeared all over modern rock radio stations in the very near future. - Leo Weekly

"Sticking To It"

Blake Sakal was barely a guitarist in a fledgling Louisville band. It was fall 2006, and Sakal’s band hardly met the qualifications for music makers; more precisely, it was four guys who occasionally got together and goofed around on instruments, maybe writing a part of a song before the focus shifted to beer and inside jokes. Countless bands have died in just that state.

This band would be different.

“We’d been together for a while, but it was just sort of a hobby thing,” Sakal said. “I don’t know — I think we all just clicked. Things just started sounding interesting. We’d played so long and not really come up with anything, then there was just this spark.”

Technically, The Instruction began about eight years ago — Sakal, guitarist Wes Hawthorne and bassist Jeremy Stein were high school classmates who tried, unsuccessfully, to start a band. They took a four-year hiatus before trying again with drummer Brandon Terrell, but the second go-round began much like the first. An interesting piece of a song here, an interesting piece there, but no complete works.

And there was the matter of a singer. Sakal had ideas for songs, melodies, but he had no interest in being the band’s frontman.

“I hate being the center of attention — and when you’re the singer of a band, you’re definitely the center of attention,” Sakal said. “I have really bad stage fright. I wanted to get another singer, but the band kind of insisted on it.”

For good reason. The Instruction’s appeal lay in interesting melodies and vocals that soar with and against the music. Sakal’s deep and often sinister voice — similar to The National’s Matt Berninger, but more aggressive — fits the dark mood. Besides, Hawthorne said, the singers who tried to sing Sakal’s songs failed to appreciate his approach to melody, one of the best parts of The Instruction’s music. When The Instruction began to click — Sakal’s “spark” — the music turned out to be compelling, dark indie-pop.

The Instruction played its first show in spring 2007; not long after, Hawthorne was at Cahoots and ran into Cory Greenwell, co-founder of the local music blog Backseat Sandbar. He gave Greenwell a CD containing some of the band’s songs.

“I didn’t think anything of it,” Hawthorne said. “The next day, I checked Backseat Sandbar and there was a whole write-up about it.”

Greenwell helped the band again when he introduced the quartet to Gill Holland, the Louisville filmmaker and entrepreneur, who proposed releasing The Instruction’s music on his Sonablast! Records label. While it’s not a proper record deal — Sonablast! isn’t providing any marketing support — the label did pay to have the record, “Failure By Design,” pressed into CDs.

Now comes the work of moving records. The Instruction is a band of outsiders, guys who didn’t come up through the Louisville scene as teenage hardcore enthusiasts or math-rock acolytes. Sakal said that’s presented the occasional challenge of having to convince local venue bookers that this is a legitimate band with a following.

To that end, the band played this year at Forecastle Festival and its songs have gotten regular radio airplay on local public station WFPK-FM. And on Saturday, The Instruction will play the inaugural NuLu Festival on East Market Street. There are plans for a tour this fall, although the members’ various day jobs might mean the tour will be a series of weekend jaunts.

Meanwhile, Sakal has also overcome his stage fright. Mostly.

“I have to have a few drinks or I’ll take a Xanax,” he said, laughing. “But if you’d watched our first show, I was like a stone statue.”
- Velocity magazine

"Lessons Learned"

Oh, the stories Blake Sakal tells.

The singer and guitarist for new-wave-post rockers The Instruction prefers inventing new characters and plots on the band’s nine-song album, Failure By Design.

When he isn’t singing about the end of the world, it’s hookers and vampires, the possibility of World War III, general destruction and the search for sanity. “They’re all different, pretty much, but they have the same kind of themes.”

Failure By Design might not be out until late January or February, but the group has already received radio play on 91.9 WFPK-FM on the strength of a seven-song demo this past year, a significant step for the high school chums who are, after two years of searching for their sound, getting serious.

“(Back then) it was more of a hobby to meet up once a week and try to write music,” Sakal says. “For me, it took a long time to finish a song. Being A.D.D., I would always write something and was never able to finish it.”

See what they’ve finished at Gerstle’s (3801 Frankfort Ave., 742-8616). Showtime is 9 p.m. Visit for further info. - LEO Weekly by Mat Herron


Still working on that hot first release.



With often dark and introspective lyrics draped over eclectic guitar riffs, The Instruction (a fivesome comprised of Blake Sakal, Stephen Wolf, Jeremy Stein, Andrew Cheyne and Landon Tompkins) has made its mark through relentless and energetic live shows, sharing the stage with everyone from The Black Keys, Moon Taxi, The Features to Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, Mc Chris and Hunter Valentine. The Instruction have had their songs songs "Stray" and "You're Mine" featured in the MTV series Sixteen And Pregnant as well as their "Into The Tomorrow" video played on Fuse On Demand Tv. With their SonaBLAST! Records debut, "Failure by Design", which is played frequently on Louisville's own 91.9 WFPK radio, the group is ready to move forward into the rest of the world.

Hailing from Louisville, KY, home to such enigmatic and diverse musical icons as Slint, Will Oldham, My Morning Jacket, Rachels and a wide array of 70s punk bands, it shouldnt be terribly surprising to find The Instructions sound as something fresh in the face of an oversaturated indie rock market focused on gimmicks. This is perhaps never more true than with songs like Mayday, Hello Darlin' & Into the Tomorrow, which display the kind of raw emotion that would be right at home in both the indie charts and commercial radio. While you can sometimes feel vague nods to their influences, Failure by Design is at all times their own, dripping with eclectic guitar riffs, pinpoint transitions, pumping bass, and infectious choruses. The Instruction is founded on Stein and Tompkin's hermetic rhythm section with guitars that are abrasive in all the right ways, and at the very core of their sound is Sakals vocals, which bring to mind the grit and masculine sexuality of Jim Morrison. Tight production and years of playing together complete the package, and with a new release, a new record deal, a solid fan base and a series of music festivals on the bill, The Instruction is going to surprise and enrapture you. Listen, Learn, Love.

Band Members