The Instruction
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The Instruction

Band Rock


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"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

"The Instruction - Listen Learn Love" - Backseat Sandbar

"Lesson 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 Matt Heron


"Failure By Design" -- Out now on SonaBLAST! Records



With often dark and introspective lyrics draped over eclectic guitar riffs, The Instruction (a foursome comprised of Blake Sakal, Wes Hawthorne, Jeremy Stein, and Brandon Terrell) has made its mark through relentless and energetic live shows, sharing the stage with everyone from These United States to Thao with the Get Down Stay Down Mc Chris and The Features. With their SonaBLAST! Records debut, Failure by Design, 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 shouldn’t be terribly surprising to find The Instruction’s 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 Terrell’s hermetic rhythm section with guitars that are abrasive in all the right ways, and at the very core of their sound is Sakal’s 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.