I meet with the band members of Write Minded for our interview at Rio Grande Mexican restaurant, a well known restaurant and gathering place in Fort Collins, Colorado. Two of the band members, Sam and Jarod, are employees. Jarod, in fact, is in the middle of his shift, wearing kitchen pants as he sits down for our interview.
In general, they are a regular group of guys, humble it seems, and fairly quiet as the interview begins. But once we get going and a few drinks have been poured, the jokes start cracking and soon enough it is apparent that they are not only a group of great musicians, but a group of old friends.
“I’m Jarod, also known as the “Turtle Bear,” which is my bass name.” Jarod Ford sits to the left of me. He talks with confidence and there is a huge smile on his face and laughter from around the table as he talks about his stage name. “One day no one will know me by my real name. Like Flea, [from Red Hot Chili Peppers], you don’t know Flea’s real name. Or Peanut from 311, except I know Peanut’s real name, but no one else does. I moved up here from Texas and I infiltrated this Fort Collins group. It’s a good representation – you know what they say: for every six Coloradans, there is one Texan.”
Wilson’s introduction comes next, he’s a soft spoken guy with black, spiky hair, but when he talks you can tell there’s meaning behind what he is saying.
“I’m Wilson Slaughter. Whatever you want to call me. Dubs P, Dubs Picaño. That’s my name from back in junior high when I met all these kids. We’ve been making music off and on since eighth grade, so seven years almost. Right now I’m the keyboardist in the band, keyboardist and synths. But these guys are where it’s all at.”
Forrester introduces himself next. He wear his long blonde hair in a pony tail down his back, and when he talks he seems pretty laid back, until out of nowhere he cracks a joke and causes the rest of the band members to crack up.
“My name’s Forrester Tamkun. I play guitar in Write Minded. I was born in Nashville and grew up in Fort Collins. Started playing piano when I was six and guitar when I was fourteen. Met all these cats in high school. We all went to Poudre high school. Except for Jarod of course … he came from an undisclosed location in Texas.” The band laughs as Remy Szekely reaches for the mic to start his introduction.
Remy is more dressed up than the other guys, there is an air of professionalism about him, and in fact he isn’t technically in the band, instead he is one of the guys behind the scenes — meet Write Minded’s manager.
“My name is Remy, aka the ‘Remy-d,’ also born and raised in Fort Collins. I'm into audio engineering, all that technical stuff. I’m helping [the band] with anything they need – marketing-wise, sound-wise, tech-wise. I’ve been an intern at the Blasting Room for about a year and a half now. Blasting Room is a Fort Collins studio. If you’ve heard of Rise Against? They’re one of the [Blasting Room’s] biggest clients. I’ve learned a lot from them and I’m transferring over what I’ve learned to helping with all this.”
Jesse grabs the mic next. Jesse is one of two vocalists in Write Minded — the rapper. He has a cool confidence about him when he talks and he is straight to the point about his introduction.
“My name is Jesse Neth, stage name: Mind’s I. Grew up in Fort Collins.”
Finally the mic gets to Sam Mouton. Sam is the other vocalist in the band. Sam takes care of the more lyrical vocals. As is common in many bands, you expect the lead singer to be the ‘top dog,’ the one in charge, but Sam doesn’t act like this. His passion for the band is palpable, but he seems comfortable sitting back and letting the others do a lot of the talking, every once in a while dropping in a thoughtful comment or funny anecdote.
“I’m Sam Mouton, born and raised in Foco, where the band is based. Been singing for a long time. Me, Jesse, and Jonah, started this band a year ago, and then the other guys came into play. Now, we’re doing our thang.”
Jonah Greene, Write Minded’s drummer is the missing from our interview, the guys laugh as they attempt to tell me where he is.
“He’s traveling. He’s in like Thailand, or Vietnam, or Cambodia, or something like that.” They all laugh again. “He’s somewhere.”
“Write Minded originally started as an acoustic, three-piece band,” says Sam diving into it. “It was myself, Jesse, and Jonah. Eventually we wanted to expand our sound and dive deeper into what we could do. We gathered a couple more people to jam with us. Started with Jarod and Forrester in my garage, messing around with stuff. Then we got Wilson to come in and that added a whole new element to our sound. That is Write Minded now. It’s evolved into something a lot bigger, fuller.”
The band has only been performing together in its current arrangement since January of 2015, but in that short amount of time they’ve accomplished some amazing stuff. From co-headlining at Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins, to snagging a slot in one of FoCo’s biggest festivals of the year — New West Fest, and making it all the way down to Texas to perform at South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, these guys have been making moves. But the road to get there hasn’t always been an easy one.
“We started out at a house party, and that kind of set the tone,” Wilson explains. “We got shut down by the boys in blue pretty quickly. We only got about four or five songs in. Then, right after that we got to open for a really talented artist, Karl Denson. That was really awesome – to see them rock a real, genuine funk show. We try to play whatever shows come our way, taking whatever opportunity we can get.”
“At first we were doing shows on farms, on janky stages, not getting paid very much and being in a weird scene but trying to make it work,” Sam says. “Like any band, we’ve dealt with the usual adversaries of trying to get shows and coming from a small town.” Sam notes that the Colorado music scene has yet to work it’s way up to Fort Collins. Trying to crack into a music scene that hasn’t really become fully realized yet has been difficult.
"The music scene isn’t huge here yet … we’re working on it.”
“But,” Sam says, “from playing on a farm to playing at New West Fest, on a huge stage — that right there has been a huge transformation for us, just this year.”
“Taking baby steps,” Remy adds. “One step at a time, but the steps are getting bigger.”
One of the reasons the band has such a positive outlook on the future, is because they are always well-received by the crowd, wherever they play. This, undoubtedly, has a lot to do with Write Minded’s unique sound and method of performing. When I ask how they would describe their sound the guys start laughing again. “Has anyone thought this through,” someone says. “Funkedelic, hiphop, reggae,” chimes in someone else.” “I always say it’s everything but country,” a third voice answers.
“I think we all pull from different styles,” Jesse says thoughtfully. “But in our band, we pull from funk and punk, to reggae and a lot of hip hop. To electro, on Wilson’s side. My influences are Nas, Slug from Atmosphere … all over the spectrum. I try to find myself through that and bring as much originality as I can.”
“John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin, for sure,” says Jarod. “Eric Wilson from Sublime — I feel like you can hear all those inspirations through the bass-lines I try to create. Bootsy Collins, because he taught me how to play the funk in like a minute and a half Youtube video.”
“Ever since I heard The Roots when I was in high school, they blew my mind,” Wilson says, “When I found out that they made that music live … there wasn’t really any artist out there that was taking it that far. I think this idea of taking a little bit from all different genres is what we’ve done, and added our two cents to, it’s made a big sound.”
“I think the fact that we all like different things is why we’re so unique,” Sam concludes. “We’ve got the hip-hop-head who’s rapping; the badass-progressive-rock-bassist, who also loves funk; the jam-band guitarist, who can make any different sound; the new-agey keyboardist. All with a bad-ass drummer behind it. It makes for a really organic environment, which is where we thrive. We all come from different places, doing our own thing, to make an original sweet sound.”
Forrester grabs the mic to add his two cents, “I like a lot of jam bands, so I really dig the perspective we have of that in Write Minded and the improv we pull in. It really shakes things up and makes every live show a little different, every live track a little different.”
The improv Forrester is talking about is one of the reasons Write Minded is such a cool band to see live. Apart from their contagious energy on stage, in every show they incorporate some improvisation, ensuring you can never see the same Write Minded show twice.
“We’ll go into jams. So we’ll do the choruses, then after the chorus we’ll have a jam section, where we can essentially improv as much as we want,” Forrester explains. “Jarod and Wilson could be improving everything they’re doing and all the solos I do are improv. We’ve started shows where we come out and just jam for like 20 minutes, making up everything we do, warming people up. We really try to bring our live show into the crowd, and interact with them. Give them an authentic experience.”
“Bringing a live jam into a show, people always dig that,” Wilson adds. “It never gets old. It’s cool having the band be hip-hop based too, because these guys can improv with their vocals just as well as we can [with our instruments]. It’s super cool.”
When asked whether or not they have ever encountered any problems or awkward moments with all the improv they do, Jarod jumps in. “I think we have it pretty together actually, because we’ve all been playing for so long. When I joined this band it was like joining professionals; semi-pros I guess you could call us. So yeah, we can keep it flowing, and if we keep our eyes on each other and feel the groove, we can end on the same note.”
Improv is a big part of how Write Minded’s music is created, their song writing process begins with it. “The band will be jamming and we’ll hear a lick we like and go off of that,” Jesse explains. “We actually write songs pretty quickly. Sam and I can take our time to incorporate the lyrics into it, but the instrumentals come together pretty fast.”
This fast-paced song writing aids to the fact that even though the guys have only been together as a band for a little less than a year, they have already produced an EP and are on their way to producing a full-length studio album.
I asked them what the album is going to be all about. “That’s the million dollar question,” says Remy. “We just started recording a few singles at the Blasting Room. We’re waiting for our drummer to get back from Thailand, he even cut his trip short to get back in time to record. So we’re just writing and taking a break in the meantime.”
As far as rushing into the spotlight, the band seems content to take their time. Because for them, they’re in it for the long-haul.
When I ask them where they see themselves in five to ten years Jesse replies. “Multiple studio albums, tours, longevity.”
“Raging at the biggest festivals. Jamming music into people’s ear drums,” Sam answers.
The guys all laugh and then their future plans get a little wilder.
“It would be cool if we had a mansion on the side of a cliff and then a glass jam-room hanging off of it,” Forrester offers.
“I’ll build a recording room inside,” Remi adds. They all laugh again. We’re getting to the bottom of our beers now and Wilson takes it back to the serious side.
“I hope I can travel with my music, and run into random people who have heard our songs. If they enjoy [our music] and it’s gotten around the world, I’d be a happy man. I’d say we did good.”
Finally Sam gets deep, “I really like the music we’re making and I love playing it and writing it. I just want to make something people can enjoy. I like when people find meaning for themselves in our songs, that’s really important to me; that people are inspired by our music, because we’re so inspired by music in the world. I just want to make something that people will remember and people will respect. Something that can touch people, because music is such a deep language. I want to be able to speak it and for people to understand it.”
We all nod in agreement, and as the interview comes to a close we talk about where they’d like to perform if they could play live anywhere in the world. Red Rocks in a common answer around the table. Madison Square Garden or somewhere abroad are popular choices too.
“It would be cool to have a concert in outer space,” Forrester says. “I don’t know how the zero gravity thing would work, but that would be pretty cool.”
As I turn off my recorder I offer the final question to a member of the band who has remained awfully quiet during the interview. He sits two seats to my left and I ask him if he would like to add in any final thoughts.
“I’m Kenneth White. I’m the ultimate Rodie. I fuck shit up and move equipment.”
And on that note, we call it a night.
Write Minded is a band unlike any other. A band comprised of talented musicians, who draw inspiration from all over the spectrum and have combined that to create a musical experience that is totally unique. Only ten months old, and purely out of their own motivation they have figured out a way to work their way up from playing at house parties and getting shut down by the police, to performing onstage at music festivals and with nationally recognized acts. At this rate, Write Minded is going to be a band that you’re going to want to keep your eye on, because hey, they might very well be the first band to play in outer space.
Check out Write Minded on Facebook, Instagram and be sure to take a look at their Bandcamp. And don't forget to keep your eye out for their first album, out sometime next year!