Tyler Gurwicz - vocals
Ian Molla - guitars
Kevin Coffrin - bass
Guerin Blask - drums
Ryan Siegel - guitars
With any new band, you can pretty much use their personal background as a guide to their sound. Knowing that the members grew up in, say, Vermont, or cut their musical teeth in Brooklyn, should clue in you on their musical path; if some of the group ended up studying music in college, that’s another sonic clue. Hand-picked by a hot producer to be the next big thing? That offers up more than a few hints.
The Urgency, thankfully, do not sound anything like anything their history would suggest.
They are not a jam band or an indie-rock group. They are not part of some hot (and soon to be forgotten) music “scene.” Their music, far from pretentious or willfully convoluted, takes a fair amount of its influence and energy from post-hardcore bands such as At the Drive-in and Glassjaw (with more affinity for melody), while working in a seductive pop groove.
And sure, the vocals of onetime musical theater major Tyler Gurwicz can scale heights, but he keeps the showboating in check. His presence adds a pop strength to the group’s ferocious, rhythmic attack.
The Urgency was never a normal band with a predetermined course. The group started with Kevin Coffrin and Ian Molla, childhood friends who grew up together in South Burlington, Vermont. Although the state is well known for breeding everything from jazz to jam groups, Molla says its influence was more subtle. “There’s a lot of time there to live a laid-back lifestyle,” the guitarist says. “So you have to figure out how to entertain yourself and what you want to do.”
What Coffrin and Molla wanted to do was music. Starting in middle school, the two friends played together in a variety of bands, which they continued as they both started college at Ithaca. There they met Guerin Blask, their eventual drummer.
“Just studying and playing music all the time, we just realized we shared the same passion,” says Coffrin. “From those experiences, we decided that’s what we wanted to do with our lives.” Foregoing college, the three headed off to New York, excited to make it big in the music world.
At first, the music world had other plans. Having moved to Brooklyn, the group noticed few similarities between themselves and their neighboring indie/noise peers. “We did well when we toured, but it there was no real ‘scene’ for us,” admits Coffrin.
Another element hindering the group’s process was a growing dissatisfaction with their various singers. Fortuitously, they happened upon Tyler Gurwicz , a musical theater major at a nearby college…and ironically, someone who had grown up right outside of the group’s hometown of South Burlington.
“They had heard an old band of mine online, and contacted me,” remembers Gurwicz. “Funny thing was, I just ignored them! But they persisted, and came to a musical revue I was doing. They just asked me to join their rock band, and I decided to try it out.”
In Gurwicz’s impressive pipes, the group found its focus and melodic center. “I’ve never tried to sound like anyone,” the frontman admits, noting that his soaring vocals often get compared to everyone from Sting to Yes’s Jon Anderson. “Actually, I’ve never really listened to a lot of the singers I’m compared to. I just kind of created my own thing.”
With Gurwicz in the group, things quickly fell into place…including the band’s first big break. After hooking up with industry veterans Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken (SRP management, who discovered Rihanna), the band serendipitously met producer David Bendeth. After checking out Paramore at the Warped Tour, Molla bought the group’s CD and became obsessed with the album’s intricate production. So he dashed off a complimentary message to that band’s producer, Bendeth, over MySpace. Surprisingly, Bendeth responded—quite enthusiastically.
“He told me he loved our music; I hadn’t even told him I was in a band!” says the guitarist. Apparently, Bendeth, a well-versed music vet (with credits ranging from Breaking Benjamin to Bruce Hornsby) checked out Molla’s profile, noticed his group, listened to a few tracks, and instantly fell in love. “He really put himself out there,” admits Molla. “We weren’t signed with anyone, so that was a big break for us that he took us on.” [The faith paid off – when the band was signed later by Island, the process all happened in, literally, one night, in front of company big wigs L.A. Reid and David Massey, and after a hurried, multi-label bidding war.]
During the initial recordings, the group found themselves locked in what they called “Bendeth Boot Camp,” an exacting process where the producer tore down the group musically. “He really breaks you down because he cares,” explains Molla. “He wanted us to discover our basics, and hone in our groove, our feel.”
It worked. Though diverse, the songs on The Urgency’s debut remain consistently powerful and intensely memorable. “Fingertips,” the opener and band’s first single, is a steamy, sexually charged rocker about seduction. Elsewhere, the group weaves in elements of punk (“Crimes,” which starts soft and explodes into a speedy chorus), Police-style rock (“Stop”), contemplative pop (“Memories”) and even ventures into the ethereal, as the dreamy, muffled “Lullaby” gently winds down the album. But even as the songs weave in and out, the “groove” that Bendeth and the group wanted is ever-present.
Recently, Ryan Siegel, frontman/guitarist for a Long Island band, The Rivalry, joined the band to add some additional guitar heft. “They had contacted me before, as fans of my band,” Siegel says. “But it’s odd: from the moment I heard them, I knew they were the band I wanted to be in. I even sort of jokingly suggested that if they ever had an opening to give me a call.” When the opportunity came, Siegel had no problem switching roles, giving up the frontman duties to concentrate on guitar. “Hey, I could never touch the way Tyler sings,” he admits.
New singer, new guitarist, new album: After years of jamming around, the little group that Molla and Coffrin started in Vermont has suddenly vaulted forward in the music world, and at a considerable rush. In a way, the band’s name is now more apt than ever. “Our name, The Urgency, is really about the circumstances of me joining this family,” says Gurwicz. “They had been searching for years for the right singer. Then we met, and it all just clicked into place at once. We just want to keep moving with that same urgent feel.”