Don’t call Full Service a reggae band. Or a metal band, or a surf-rock outfit. In fact, trying to assign the rockers a specific genre is futile. Even the guys in the band don’t like to classify themselves as any specific type of music.
“We have stuff that’s pretty heavy, almost metal really, besides the vocals,” drummer and singer Hoag said, talking about their sound and trying to find bands with which to tour. “Playing with metal bands wouldn’t work, though. A reggae thing wouldn’t work, I mean it has worked before, but it’s just not a perfect fit. The folksy-Americana thing that’s popular right now doesn’t work and the hipster stuff definitely wouldn’t work.”
Their whole philosophy is a departure from that of most local bands. Besides not limiting themselves to any particular style of music, they have no intention of becoming particularly famous or getting signed. They adhere to a strict grassroots-oriented mindset, drawing from their devoted fan base for help with touring, booking and promotion. And all four go exclusively by their nicknames: Tim “Bonesaw” Kepner on guitar and vocals; his brother Dave “Hoag” Kepner on drums and lead vocals; Elliott “Smell” Larden on percussion, vocals and keys; and Sean “Sunny” Eckel on bass.
“Honestly, we have trouble finding bands that fit with us to tour with, because of the way we look and sometimes the way we play,” Bonesaw said. “We’ve gotten offers to play with reggae-rock sort of bands in our earlier days, but we’ve found ourselves not wanting to go that route and getting pigeonholed that way.”
Based on looks alone, it’s easy to see why the guys get pinned as reggae rockers. All four have long, unkempt manes, topped off with bright headbands and impressive beards. Smell’s got wicked dreads. They often play shirtless. Full Service, as a whole, gives off a carefree and laid-back vibe. But the band’s music goes beyond its appearances. Hoag cites the Beach Boys and Guns N’ Roses as a few of his influences.
“I’m very influenced by the Beach Boys, at least vocally,” he said. “I love their vocals, and try to put that in a context that’s a little more rock. I try to incorporate that sound and use it over different grooves. But that’s just vocally. Growing up, we were into those bands that were more like a crew, like Guns N’ Roses.”
Bonesaw elaborated on this idea, noting that the concept of having a band that was a cohesive group of friends creating music together was a priority over adhering to a specific style of music.
“We’re more influenced by the band lifestyle,” Bonesaw said. “Not the party hard, do drugs sort of thing, but camaraderie of being a team that works together and goes out and explores the world together and collaborates and creates together. We’re influenced by those types of bands that are posses.”
The band has found success with its relaxed and fluid approach to making music. Full Service gained attention in 2008 during its “Takeover Tour,” where it followed a 311 and Snoop Dogg tour around and played unofficial shows in the parking lots of the venues. The venture attracted 311’s attention, and Full Service has played with 311 several times since then, including playing for 311’s Caribbean Cruise.
Next up for Full Service is its very own mini-festival, the Full Service Circus, May 3-5. Bonesaw says it’s an opportunity to host the band’s fans in its home city and gain exposure, while reinventing its image. The band recently put out an acoustic album, Roaming Dragons, which the band considers a “big divergence” from its typical sound.
“Part of the theme currently is really making a firm break from that perception [of being a reggae band] because that’s not really what we are,” Bonesaw said. “We completely reinvented ourselves on that acoustic album as a stripped-down version of ourselves. Reinventing ourselves that way, sort of having two bands, two versions of ourselves, has given us more flexibility.”
Full Service’s outside the box ideology when it comes to building its fan base and managing the band has given it a way to distinguish itself in a city full of aspiring musicians.
“We’ve been around for a while. We’re getting older. We’ve been able to do more than a lot of bands ever get to do,” Bonesaw said. “But we’re ready to make that next big jump, and we’re hoping Circus will be that thing that takes us further.”
Doors for the “Local Live” broadcast of Full Service open at 9:30
Published on February 15, 2013 as "Full Service offers feel-good music of all genres".
revised at 1:18 pm from earlier print.