While Gray Haven did not set out to become a quartet, they quickly formed a bond and the group has not looked back since.
Four Keene State College (KSC) students have been making other students rock out with their pop punk and rock sound, whether it be at Solar Fest, Rocktober Fest or in their basement that has been dubbed as “The Oasis.”
The band is comprised of four KSC students, who all happen to know each other from their fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon; Ricky Pelchar is on lead guitar and vocals, Joe Sansone is on bass, Nick St Amour is on rhythm guitar and Mike Holahan is on drums.
“It started out my f[irst] year with me and Joe and some other dudes who still play music and they needed a singer. They were playing in Holloway and I told them I could do it even though I had never sung before. Joe and I met that way and kept playing together and then were roommates in Huntress and the old performances were just me and him without a drummer and it was really bad, so we wanted to find a drummer and found this guy (Holahan) and got into it and first took the name Gray Haven,” said Pelchar.
“It started off cringe-worthy,” said Sansone.
“We work really well together and spent so much time together, so we can be honest and helpful to each other,” Holahan said.
Together, the four write their songs by having Sansone and Pelchar write the structure and the basis of the song and then turn it over to the entire group and they all “jam out” to the lyrics that half of them compiled.
“Sometimes we all want to go in different directions with it,” said Holahan.
However, the group agreed that this is the best way to write the song because it has more of a natural flow and it is not just built by one person, which gives them all a say in what gets played and recorded.
Gray Haven has many influences, forming a diverse impact for the sound and allowing each style to play out.
These influences include The Beatles, Green Day, The Cure, Foo Fighters and Arctic Monkeys, as well as several other 90s alternative and bands.
“What’s cool is that we all have different skill sets too in our instruments. [Sansone] has this crazy bass pedal that creates these funky esthetic noises and [Pelchar] has a muff pedal, so it’s real f—ing grungy. I let (Holahan] have some cymbals, so he has some cool cymbals now and I just play guitar, but I have some production gear in my room too,” St Amour said.
The group usually practices two to three times each week, as their schedule allows, however each member agreed that they put their music first a lot of times.
On Sunday, Feb. 5, the group was able to record their first recording for their new extended play (EP) “Tripping at the Petting Zoo” that they hope to debut soon.
“[The EP] is five songs, pretty simple stuff and hopefully it comes out good and [we] can release it on Bandcamp [and] iTunes. We’ve already done a bunch of research on how to get our music distributed and then we’re going to make CDs and get them out to people,” Sansone said.
While the shows that are played in their home are generally sporadic, they have found that using Facebook events has drawn larger groups of people by sending invites.
One concert attendee and friend, KSC student Melissa Fraser, said, “What I like about watching them perform is just how much passion they have and they always put on such a great and fun show.”
The four agreed that the best part of playing and creating music is the shows where they can rock out with their fellow KSC students and entertain people who enjoy watching and hearing music.
“The fact that we create a positive space so these kids can just come enjoy some awesome tunes and possibly meet friends there… [is] just a fun time altogether,” said St Amour, and the rest of the group agreed.
“Keep an eye out for our mixtape; it’s gonna be the most fire mixtape in Keene, but we are going to post it online on our Facebook page. We are going to get it on TouchTunes so you can use your TouchTunes credits to blast that while [Sansone] is bartending,” Pelchar said.
The group’s next show will be on Feb. 17 for a fundraiser with Beautiful Girls Club and Headwear and Romvnce, benefitting the organization Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
Mary Curtin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org