The Quad-City based band Minus Six found itself playing for students at Iowa State University a couple of months ago, to a reception that surprised even the band members.
"When we were playing a song, they would have the refrains memorized," lead singer-pianist Kevin Carton recalled. "They would wait in line for an hour afterward to meet us and have us sign stuff."
Little did the ISU co-eds know that the band they'd grown fond of was younger than they were.
A collaboration of four Rock Island Alleman students Carton, bass player Kameron Rummans, sax player Matt Silvertsen and drummer Tyler Kaschke Minus Six is seeing its reputation add up with the release of its second album, "Some Things Change," this weekend.
"We went from a basement project through the help of a friend to a live studio in Nashville, Tenn., with all this expertise and help," Rummans said.
Three of the band members attended a music seminar in Arkansas last year, where they met Joe Hand, a performer and producer of the likes of Linkin Park and Matchbox Twenty. Hand agreed to take the band under his wing, and in April, the members found themselves on Music Row, for 2 1/2 days of solid recording.
"Joe had actually listened to our first CD down there (in Arkansas), and he could tell there were issues with the first recording," Carton said. "Not that it was horrible, it just could have been better. He wanted to work with the band, expand the sound and make it a little more professional."
Hand told the band what its strengths were, and where it could improve.
"Ever since he's known us, he said we always had the It factor,' which not all bands can develop," Rummans said. "We needed to become tighter in the next year, then give him a call."
Members of the group can already tell they're making progress, thanks to the producer's encouragement.
"He liked the music, he thinks we're getting tighter, and he's excited to see where we're going," Carton said. "He's always on board if we need anything."
To have the good words from a respected producer helped the band's self-worth.
"To get a compliment from someone like him who's had experience means so much to you," Carton said. "It's not like the crazy guy that comes up after the show and says You did a real good job.'"
The band's name comes from its unique calling card that it's without a guitar. Members compare themselves to a combination of Ben Folds, Billy Joel, Maroon 5 and Gavin DeGraw for their piano-heavy pop-rock sound.
"We wanted something a little more unique, like Ben Folds Five," Carton said. "There are other bands who have made it without a guitar, but there's not a lot of live, local bands with piano, bass, guitar and saxophone."
Those unfamiliar with the band see a piano and sax and wrongly think it's a jazz group, the members age 15 to 18 say.
"It's definitely got a defined rock sound, but it's got a twist," Carton said. "We're all playing different styles of music, forming them into one."
With the backing of a well-known producer, members of Minus Six think they might have a shot at the big time.
"Originally, we were just having fun," Carton said. "When a band starts, they always want to make it big, but after we've been touring around the Midwest and seeing the reaction from colleges there, it gives us a lot of hope."
David Burke can be contacted at
(563) 383-2400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Minus Six CD release party
When: 8-11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19
Where: River House Bar & Grill, 1510 River Drive, Moline
How much: Free