Local band Equaleyes has just recently upgraded from trio to quartet. For a year and a half, the band had been guitarist/lead vocalist Jeff Crosby, Brian Louderbough on bass and vocals and Will Prescott on drums and vocals. The addition of Daniel "The Hawk" Bloominfield (a nickname he earned for being the only guy in Sandpoint, Idaho sporting a Mohawk) on keyboards, gives Equaleyes a whole new layer.
For a group of guys with an only slightly warranted reputation for being a jam band, it's not just jams they really want to be known for. Due possibly to the band's long-haired surfer-blond frontman who often plays sans shoes (as do Louderbough and Prescott) his eyes closed in an almost trancelike state, the band's image among the uninitiated is that of one that provides crunchy grooves as a background for dreadlocked dancers swaying amid clouds of smoke and patchouli oil. However, Crosby says, the band's sound incorporates more than just reggae-fueled psychedelia. A quarter-hour jam or two is not unheard of at an Equaleyes show, but the minute Crosby opens his mouth—whether for a show or an interview—the band is illuminated by a new light.
Crosby's deep, steady voice and confidence belie his youth. He's a kind, peaceful guy with a drive not always found in musicians beyond his years. He's quickly becoming like any other professional, and although his training happens not in a classroom but on the road traveling through the West, he believes in perfecting his craft. Even before meeting the other members of the band, he began working toward his goal of playing music for a living.
"I was playing solo gigs and had connections around Idaho," Crosby says. "When I met Brian and Will, I was like, 'Hey, I've already got this material and these gigs coming up. Let's just put it together and start playing.' We didn't even have a lot of practices. We just started playing gigs right away. We've been doing it that way ever since. Now we've kind of gotten onto that train where we need to keep playing. We don't want to get day jobs." And at the rate they're going, they may be some of the lucky ones and not have to.
Their tour schedule keeps them mainly in the West in areas they play repeatedly. They have "kind of a thing," he says, explaining that Equaleyes' fan base is expanding beyond just the Gem State's borders. Plus, they're getting some help. "We have a new booking agent and he's got us busier than we can imagine. We just did 10 shows in a row," Crosby says, which included gigs in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. They've followed that tour route before, which included an appearance at the famed Fox Theater in Boulder, Colo., where they opened for the band Mama's Cookin'. Word of mouth and some serious leg work are definitely pushing things in the right direction as well. Crosby says they are seeing a good turnout at their shows. They call radio stations and newspapers in the towns they're scheduled to play, "but we're just getting the hang of it. It's so much more work than you think. But it's so helpful." They say the Boise community has been incredibly supportive, and they are starting to see that same kind of support in other areas they play.
Like any smart new band, they keep their information on Myspace updated, and send out bulletins. "Last time we played Denver, we had like eight people show up just because of Myspace. It was great." They even had shows slated in Canada, the cancellation of which inadvertently led to the addition of Bloominfield.
"It's funny how it worked out. We jammed with him about a year ago," Crosby says. "[Then] we had some gigs [scheduled] up in Canada at a festival [and] at a pub. You can play festivals without a work permit but not establishments. We got stopped at the border, and when we told them our name, they looked us up on the Internet and saw we had that gig. We said, 'Hey we can cancel [the pub gig] right now,' but [the border patrol] felt all deceived and turned us around. We headed back to Sandpoint all frowning, but then we met up with Daniel again. He'd just broken up with his band. We like to say it's fate, but we're still kind of pissed at Canada."
The band is working on a new release, but extensive touring and a handful of other projects has meant the process of writing and recording has taken over a year. It's been further pushed out because the addition of a keyboard player means the addition of keyboards on the already tracked songs. For the band, it's definitely a labor of love, but one that doesn't come cheap. Crosby said they got a lucky break when they were asked to create the music for Supercubs Gone Wild, a new DVD by a company that builds and sells small airplanes. Crosby says it was that break that let them afford to record.
Tentatively titled, While I'm Alive (which is also the name of what Crosby calls a "standout track" on the album), the new CD, says Crosby, is the best thing Equaleyes has ever done. "This is the one," Crosby says.
Even with just one self-titled album, and a mere year-and-a- half of Equaleyes behind them, the new release may very well be "the one." It promises to be a well-balanced, thoughtful collection of songs that really is the best Equaleyes has to offer—until the next release.
You can hear new tracks "Rain," "Home" and a live version of "While I'm Alive" from the new release at Myspace.com/equaleyeslive. The band's upcoming shows through the end of the month include Terrapin Station on Dec. 14 and New Year's Eve, Sockeye Brewery on Dec. 18 and Reef on Dec. 28 and 29.