While it is easy to get lost in the musical shuffle with such a vast array of bands performing in the Mid-Michigan area, Common Groove is a group distinguished not by glitz or glamour so much as their innate sense of fashioning a good song and a great sound, free from gimmicks and posturing.
Consisting of founding member Bob Arndt on guitar & vocals, Travis Kilpatrick on drums & vocals, Brian Coonan on lead guitar & vocals, and newcomer Paul Skrzypczak on bass & vocals, Common Groove formed back in 2000, originally as a vehicle to write & perform original music.
But as the band evolved, their cohesive vocal prowess (collectively perhaps the most compelling component of the group) fed into a genuine passion for tackling influential cover material, creating an instantaneous buzz among ever-widening audiences eager to hear a healthy mix of familiar covers mixed with arresting originals.
"I like our sound because its hard to describe," states Bob. "It's difficult to pin a particular genre on our material because even our originals are fairly wide ranging stylistically. One has a Caribbean feel, while another may borrow influences from folk & blues, and the next song we tackle may be darker and more rock oriented. The sound is very broad, which is why I like it."
"We have 18 originals now," explains Travis, formerly drummer for Kevorkian, and involved with CG for three years running. "Bob writes most of the lyrics and the basic word structure and everybody pitches in with the arrangement of musical structures. I've played with a lot of bands in the Battle Creek area, and moved up here 10 years ago. Once this opportunity arose, I committed to it."
In terms of distinguishing their sound, Brian concurs that CG are difficult to categorize. A veteran of Acoustic Fields and One Pump Daisy (as well as The Review's former web-Master, he centers on the notion that "our sound - whether covers or originals - has a vibrant appeal to it. What drew me to the band was Bob & Travis vocal harmonies, which you don't hear a lot. Having four vocalists is a strong incentive. People like to see a band having fun with a lot of energy, and when I'm onstage I like to see that they're working to entertain. That's a big quality for me."
"What drew me to the band is the fact that Bob's a songwriter," explains newcomer Paul. "He comes up with a good foundation to the song which is easy to add to and puts a lot of thought into things. We start with something really good and it just gets better, but I hold them to high standard!"
With such strong camaraderie and a musical sensibility that melds early Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains with Cream and Hendrix, it's easy to see why each member enjoys jumping in the musical well together.
"It's funny, because the stuff I write about is normal, every day kind of stuff," reflects Bob. "I don't have a lot of unhappiness or angst in my life, so whether I'm writing about the past, present, or future, the overall sound is kind of happy. I write about family and friends and what's going on at the time around us."
"We all have solid lives and none of us is jobless," laughs Travis. "It helps the perspective of the group and makes it easier overall to get together and not engage in the stress. If any drama comes into the picture, it quickly goes out."
"Another great thing about this band is that you don't see a lot of two-week layoffs," adds Paul. "Recently we knocked out 8 new covers in the basement, and we do that regularly to keep our set list fresh. We never want to feel that our show is growing stale."
If you haven't hooked into the freshness of the Groove yet, catch one of their live shows. And to learn more about the band, check out their website at www.thecommongroove.com