The Staggering Odds
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Battle of the Bands

The Odds, a pop-rock quintet out of Fayetteville, survived the final round of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase on Friday, emerging as this year’s “best original music band in Arkansas.”


Before a full house at Juanita's, the Odds bested, in order, Further Down, a power rock group from Jonesboro; “nu” metal group Temper Effect from Little Rock, and blues band Charlotte Taylor and Gypsy Rain from Heber Springs.


By winning, the Odds assured themselves of a spot in Riverfest as well as on the Peabody-Little Rock’s late spring-early summer schedule of concerts, the date to be announced soon.

- Jim Harris/Arkansas Times


Arkansans play The Odds in 20-band national contest

The odds are against them. Not two to one, or 10 to one. But 20 to one.
Still, 20 to one isn’t all bad when you’re the only band from Arkansas in a nationwide best-band competition. Which is, in fact, where The Odds are.

This Northwest Arkansas-based rock band dominated in two rounds of competition held this spring at Hard Rock Cafe in Memphis. Online voting for the "A Shot at the Cabo Wabo" contest ends Friday. The link is www.hardrock.com/promo/cabowabo2004. Each of the contest’s 20 bands — chosen at 20 Hard Rock sites nationwide — posted a song on the Web site that voters can listen to. The Odds’ selection is "Girlfriend."

Guitarist Matt Perrine got the e-mail that looked like spam, inviting bands to send in CDs. It was due four days later, but they submitted their newly finished 10-song CD, Stick It in Your Pocket.

Being chosen from their submission was "validation that somebody else besides our mamas like the CD," says Derek Van Lynn, who supplies keyboard and vocals.
Other members are Severino Myers on bass and vocals; Rick Erke on percussion; and Keith Hollingshead on drums.

The members didn’t expect to survive the first rounds in April. But, based on audience votes, they beat bands from Louisville, Ky., Nashville, Tenn., and West Memphis. In May, they went up against two semi-finalists — Shadowboxx from New Orleans and Yes No Maybe from Memphis — and won again with audience and "hidden judge" voting.

"It was like beating [the University of] Tennessee and LSU in the same night," Van Lynn says of the win.
Perrine felt certain one of the other bands had won; Van Lynn had confidence in The Odds.

Band members have already put to use some of their booty from that win, like their fancy Nokia cell phones. They display the guitar signed by Sammy Hagar on stage during shows. But they haven’t seen the meal cards for Hard Rock Cafe yet.

Away from the band, the guys spend their time as bluegrass music store employee, computer programmer, arts center technician, construction worker and house husband.

The group has been together about a year and a half. Hollingshead and Myers met in band at Fayetteville High School, and both have worked as sound men for local shows.
Van Lynn took piano lessons in his youth, and went on to play weddings and church services. He even toured the country with Sleepy LaBeef a few years back, and has brought attention to the band after being named best keyboardist in local music awards.
But Van Lynn moved to Fayetteville to get a master’s degree in creative writing, "and I’m using those skills and my old poems to write the lyrics for The Odds," he says.

Members all write music together, ending up with 25 original tunes like "Did Not Tell," "Big Man," "Angel Divided" and "Fire It Up." They usually start with the music and add lyrics later.
"We’ll take somebody’s idea and the rest of the band will complete it," says Perrine, who remembers his own dad crafting songs in their basement years ago.
"The irony is, I sometimes have to take some of those old poems and make them rhyme," Van Lynn says.

In addition to original songs, they play familiar tunes from the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads and The Who.

The six finalists will be named Tuesday. The grand prize winner will be announced Sept. 20. That’s not too far away now.

Sammy Hagar and other celebrity judges will ultimately decide which band wins the contest and gets to open for Hagar at The Cabo Wabo Meltdown 2004 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in October. The winner will also get more band equipment and a recording studio session.

It would be a big leap for the band whose touring circuit comprises Fayetteville, Rogers and Eureka Springs. But, they’re ready, with enough material for two more CDs.

Van Lynn is pretty confident in an Odds win, but he’s still not completely convinced. If not them, he says, "I guarantee it’ll be the chicks from New York."

He’s talking about Slunt, a New York band led by two women who play music with a harder edge. If the promoters choose from the band’s looks, Van Lynn is certain the girls from Slunt will rake in the votes.

If they do, it won’t be The Odds’ end. Far from it.

- Arkansas Democrat Gazette


The Odds first CD entitled “Stick It in Your Pocket” gives some good advice. Stick it in your pocket and take it home and listen at every opportunity. It is a delightful surprise.

From the first piano cadence joined by guitar harmonics in ‘Big Mistake’, every song is tastefully arranged. The recording quality is excellent – every instrument is well represented in the mix.

The percussion - played by Rick Erke - doesn’t get lost in the drums or bass, all very distinct, and the bass sound (Severino Myers) is just right: fat but tight and pulsating. Guitarist Matt Perrine has several different sounds that fit in the different settings provided by the songs. He uses lots of harmonics and they are all enunciated with fine technique. His sustained distorted sound is superb, great control of his axe. Drummer Keith Hollingshead gives the percussionist plenty of room to play and doesn't fail to build intensity himself.


The band is built around keyboard player Derek Van Lynn, who wrote most of the lyrics and sings lead vocals. Van Lynn ties the group together in a tight package, with tasteful licks and good use of keyboard sounds for the right accents in different songs.

The songs themselves have a lot of tongue-in-cheek attitude in the lyrics, such as ‘If I Had A Girlfriend’ and ‘Big Man’, ‘Down in the Silver Mine’. ‘Did Not Tell About You’ gives a completely different emotional reading; there is a confessional tone to this lyric which is magnified by the intensity of the arrangement.

‘Did Not Tell About You’ kept me waiting for the song to change, to release, but the fact that it never did and there was no bridge, no release, created a dynamic that made it a pent-up emotional storm. The group vocal on the line ‘did not tell about you’ was perfectly enunciated and intoned. This song, though musically the simplest on the album, provides fierce intensity and perfect vocal intonations. Yes, yes, yes.

“‘Big Man’ is a song about George Bush, Saddam Hussein, about how all the world leaders should be spanked,” Derek Van Lynn said in a recent interview. It is full of rock ’n roll energy and attitude. “You got the big head, but it ain’t screwed right; All in all you seem to think we should thank-you, Seems to me it’s easy to see we should spank you.” Van Lynn plays a fine rock piano solo on this number, excellent technique and phrasing.

The arrangements all feature distinct introductions and endings, dynamics throughout. Most of the songs have verses, choruses and bridges, and it is all rock music.

‘If I Had A Girlfriend’ seems like an outtake on the rock’n roll phenomenon of groupies for every member in the band. It is a fun song though, and funny, and tastefully arranged. ‘Fire It Up’ is a rocker with more changes and a little more structure than some of the other songs. Van Lynn does another hot piano solo. Like the lyric, the band becomes fired up on this number and percussionist Erke really gets out front.

‘Angel Divided’ is a heavy metal rock song, and percussionist Erke has an important role on what sounds like a woodblock that drives the song. Van Lynn’s vocal has no problem being on top in this obviously loud and high energy song. The piano intro belies the onslaught of the heavily distorted guitar which follows and persists. Drummer Hollingshead says this song is about Adam and Eve. The arrangement is so tasteful and intricate, the vocal echoes and the instruments except for the drums dropping out in the chorus. It is excellent work, great song. ‘Go the Distance’ sounds more Steely Dan flavored than anything else on this album. The chord voicings and the phrasings in the verse give it a jazz-rock flair. The instrumentalists all stretch out on this song.

All the players in the Odds fit perfectly. Van Lynn is up to the task of leading this group. His vocals do the job and then some and the accents the group sings with him are just the right touch of “sugar in the bowl.” This is an excellent bunch of musicians and they write some great songs and arrangements together.

The confidence of Van Lynn when he told me that this is a supergroup, perhaps his tongue was in his cheek then too, during a recent interview made me skeptical that I would even want to listen to this album. I love it when my skepticism is proved wrong. I love this album and it makes me so proud of our local music community to know that this was written, performed and recorded right here in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The Odds are performing locally and this album will be released shortly. Get ready to Stick It In Your Pocket. I give this one maximum stars.
- All About Town


WINNER: Odds, including Derek Van Lynn.

With a packed house at Juanita’s Cantina Ballroom urging them on, four bands gave strong performances Friday, March 4, in the final round of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase. But in the end, the Odds, a quintet out of Fayetteville, survived with its infectious pop-rock and percussion-heavy jam sound to emerge as this year’s “best original music band in Arkansas.”

The Odds bested Further Down, a power rock group from Jonesboro; “nu” metal group Temper Effect from Little Rock, and blues band Charlotte Taylor and Gypsy Rain from Heber Springs.

By winning, the Odds assured themselves of a spot in Riverfest as well as on the Peabody-Little


Rock’s late spring-early summer schedule of concerts, the date to be announced soon. Also, the winning band received $300 in music equipment from Jacksonville Guitar, $200 in food from Trio’s Restaurant, an ice chest full of Red Bull, recording time from Cabot’s Blue Chair Studio, and a photo shoot from Arkansas Times photographer Brian Chilson.

The Odds, second on the lineup Friday, grabbed the room’s attention with its melodic pop-rock with jamming undertones. The shared lead vocals and harmonies of keyboardist Derek Van Lynn and bassist Severino Myers were on throughout the band’s 30-minute set. The group’s catchy “Stick It in Your Pocket,” the title of its first CD, and the closing number, “Angel Divided,” appeared to be the clinchers as far as original music.

Charlotte Taylor’s band mixed traditional rock blues with some upbeat funk that kicked off Friday’s show, and her backing band displayed splendid musicianship.

The catchiest song of the Showcase may have been Further Down’s “What You Say,” which concluded its powerful rock set. Dustin “Red” Dorton gave the stage a festive look by painting his bass map with the flag of Ireland, while frontman Michael Collins kept the band energized.

Temper Effect had huge fan support and performed solidly as the final band of the night, with determined vocalist Devin Castle, bassist Nick Williams and drummer Jerry Halpain leading the way. The group’s energy and choreographed thrashing style were noted as high points by the five judges.

The contest, held at Juanita’s Cantina Ballroom on Main Street, was the culmination of a process that began around Thanksgiving, when the Times began receiving the first of 52 entries. Those were pared to 16 for four weeks of semifinal rounds to determine the four finalists.


- Arkansas Times


Band of the Year

By Adam Sexton
Arkansas Free Weekly

For two years and counting, The Odds, a Northwest Arkansas band, have managed to garner many achievements that will bring the music scene spotlight shining down on them.

Last week, The Odds took home Band of the Year and Album of the Year awards at the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards.

With a first album already released and numerous other awards from various music competitions, The Odds, are in the process of finding their sound and their audience.

After taking the Best Original Music Band prize at the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase in Little Rock earlier this year, the band is set to hit the road with gigs at Cajun's Wharf and the upcoming Riverfest in Little Rock.

"We're all jaded by the success," said keyboardist and lead singer Derek Van Lynn.

"We've gone from just jamming together...to getting Best Music Band [at the Arkansas Times Music Showcase]," he said. "We really feel like we'll be representing Arkansas at Riverfest."

Along with Van Lynn, the band includes Matt Perrine on guitar, Keith Hollingshead on drums, Rick Erke on percussion and Kevin Grimwood, who has recently replaced Severino Myers on bass.

The musicians have crossed paths before in previous bands: Vann Lynn has previously played with Erke in the Thomas Jefferson & the UFO Revolution; Hollingshead played with Breathing Water; Perrine was a guitarist for Short Bus; and Grimwood has played with local artists Emily Kaitz and Effron White.

The addition of Grimwood to the band is working nicely, according to other members of the band.

All band members share a love for the creative process. While Van Lynn supplies the majority of the lyrics, the band, through many hours of rehearsal, works out the riffs, hooks and beats.

They rehearse twice a week at Erke's house in Fayetteville and currently have a list of 60 songs, both original material and covers. They describe their sound as "rock and roll with jam elements."

"We've been compared to Steely Dan and Widespread Panic," said Perrine.

Van Lynn said the band works to captivate their audiences with the dynamics in their songwriting, those "melodies and hooks for people to get into."

"When we see people get out on the dance floor and seeing total strangers singing along with us, it's a great thing," Van Lynn said.

Although the band has received acclaim and support, criticism is considered healthy and necessary.

"I feel that criticism is the best inspiration," Grimwood said. "I'd rather have someone tell me that my music is crap. I'll know if there's room for improvement."

The band has generated a local buzz with countless performances at Dickson Street clubs and at Fayetteville's Bikes, Blues and BBQ festival as well as statewide attention with gigs at Juanitia's and Sticky Fingerz, both in Little Rock.

The Odds released their first album, Stick It In Your Pocket, in 2004. The 10-song album of original material, was recorded in two months at the now-defunct Empire Recording Studio.

"People seem to like the album," Van Lynn said. "It's opened a lot of doors for us. We still like it after all this time."

The band's efforts to get noticed have worked out quite well. Last year they contributed to the "Band Together" album, which raised money for the Northwest Arkansas Children's Shelter.

They picked up five awards at the 2004 Ozark Music Awards, including Artist of the Year, New Band, Album of the Year, Album Artwork and Best Original Song and in 2003 won awards for Best Alternative Band and the Creativity Award.

Van Lynn said the Odds will continue to write songs, widen their audience and focus on future gigs.

A follow-up to their first album is in the very early stages or "in theory," according to Perrine.

The band is also known for its renditions of cover tunes. As for now, live performances consist of both original material and covers.

"There's an element of humor [in live performances]," Hollingshead said. "Derek is good with talking to the audience. We take the music seriously but not ourselves too seriously."


- Arkansas Free Weekly


Discography

Stick it in Your Pocket--10 song CD

Photos

Bio

The Odds are a five-piece rock band from Arkansas playing original music with a mix of cover songs.

The band won "Album of the Year" and "Artist of the Year" at the 2005 North Arkansas Music Awards.

The band recently won The 2005 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase title of “Best Original Music Band in Arkansas”.

Their first CD, Stick It In Your Pocket, won “Best Album” at the 2004 Ozark Music Awards.

They also won “Best New Band,” “Best Album Cover,” “Best Original Song,” and the coveted “Artist of the Year.”

The band made the finals of the nationwide “Take A Shot At Cabo” contest, on the merits of their CD and two band contest victories at the Memphis Hard Rock Café, and have had members featured nationally on GuitarPlayer.com.