The Okay Thrill
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The Okay Thrill

Kansas City, Kansas, United States | SELF

Kansas City, Kansas, United States | SELF
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The best kept secret in music


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The Okay Thrill EP (2010)


Feeling a bit camera shy


The Origins of The Okay Thrill

In the midsummer of 2003, singer, songwriter, and lead axeman Matthew Shelton departed his dwellings in Kansas City, Missouri, to visit his childhood home of Sioux City, Iowa. While there, he demonstrated to his boyhood friend, artist and dreamer Lucas Walker, some of the patterns and riffs he had developed through careful study of the legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Luke, inspired by the musical expressions of his visiting friend, began writing songs himself, quickly putting on display a natural aptitude for the juxtaposition of nature sounds and the sort of acerbic songwriting characteristic of earlier American performers such as Bob Dylan, Frank Black, and Kurt Cobain. The very next summer, in 2004, Luke moved to Kansas City himself, along with the rest of his family. These reunited childhood friends began to further share their musical ideas. In addition, the pair sometimes made informal appearances at Kansas City open mics hosted by the Crave Cafe (now the Mud Pie Bakery) and the Cup and Saucer.

The First Addition

Things continued in this informal mode for some time, until at least 2006. At this time, the duo decided to publish on Craigslist solicitations for additional members. The first serious response came from drummer John Steinmetz, then fourteen years of age. After a few jam sessions, John was added to the group.

A New Keyboardist

Things stayed in this vein until the late summer of 2007. Appearances were made at local garageband showcases such as the El Torreon and the Bottleneck. A fruitless search for a bass guitarist was also underway for this entire period. One solution that presented itself came in the form of the neomath Micah Walker, college dropout and older brother to founding member Lucas Walker. Micah, twenty-eight years of age at the time and with no musical background or future plans, was invited out to a practice session one Thursday evening and trained to follow on a small, plastic Casio keyboard the root notes to the entire The Okay Thrill set-list, in whole-note rhythms and with effect no. 54 “Dance Bass”. Shortly after completing this task, he composed his first composition “Free Fall Like Autumn Leaves ” while the other band members tuned their guitars up. Although the initial plan was for Micah to transition to the bass guitar once he had acquired the necessary equipment, it was soon thereafter decided that he would remain as keyboardist while the hunt for a bass guitarist continued.

The Baron

This role was filled for a time by guitarist, songwriter, and producer Baron Stout, beginning in the winter of 2007. Baron saw the opportunity to get some experience playing for a live audience under his belt when the Okay Thrill made its first run as a complete ensemble in late 2007 and early 2008, performing at such venues as the Record Bar, Davey’s Uptown, the Brick, the Studio, and the Gaslight Tavern. Although his stint with the band was short, his skills as spokesperson were called upon at least once, in a live interview with the now-discontinued web magazine KC Anthem, and possibly on several other occasions as well.

A Band at the Crossroads

The preceding covers the period up to Spring 2008, which saw the band at something of a crossroads. Baron left to pursue production projects, while Matt took a two-year religious hiatus to San Diego, California. That left the remaining band members to sharpen their teeth on local Kansas City open mics such as the one hosted on 39th St by singer and rhythm guitarist Eric Houser, and the one hosted on 41st by songwriter and ukelele impresario Dominic Altieri. Although it was hard at times imagining this trying time of hiatus ever coming to an end, end it did, when Matt returned in the late spring of 2010. Concerns about the band getting back together again quickly dissipated when the band practiced for the very first time upon his return and found themselves sounding better than ever. The time off was now understood to be in fact beneficial for some of the less experienced members. Luke was able to further polish his extensive repertoire of songwriting. J. Steinmetz was able to start his own record imprint and finalize the construction of the home studio that would soon be hosting the recording sessions for the band’s very first EP. Micah spent much of that period in Downtown Westport, absorbing that area’s urban vibe into his keyboarding.

In addition, the band had initiated a relationship with Tyler Miller of the Nextspace that would prove crucial to the next stage of the band’s development.

The Nextspace

The Nextspace is located in the Crossroads Art District of downtown Kansas City. In addition to displaying the work of local Kansas City artists such as Richard Van Cleave, the Nextspace puts on display a wide variety of theatrical, educational, and musical offerings to the public. The Nextspace and The Okay Thrill first made each other’s acquaintances in the late winter/e