The five musically eccentric members of Idella aren’t afraid to be themselves.
The genre-bridging music that they play every week in bassist Elliott Cashen’s Continental Ranch suburban home is testament to that.
In fact, the Marana-based group, which wore over-the-top French wigs to a recent concert, prides itself on its individuality.
“We don’t really fit into a genre,” guitarist Casey Clark explained. “We try to mesh everything we come from, musically.”
The band consists of four Marana High School students and a drummer from Mountain View High School. It came together in the summer of 2007 and now performs at small downtown joints such as The Rock and The Living Room.
Each member brings a different musical influence to the table, from jazz to indie to techno.
“It’s hard to set any boundaries on our genre because we come from an eclectic gathering of backgrounds,” drummer Matt Pirc said.
Unlike most fledgling musical groups, Idella never has been satisfied with “mimicking mainstream bands,” Koeppen said. For her, the band is all about “following our own beat and bringing our musical influences together.”
The group fell quickly into its own song-writing rhythm.
“Our songs … it’s always just one member’s idea, and we just bring it into the studio and build on it,” said Pirc of Idella’s process.
The band members’ close friendship helps them follow any musical ideas that they have. Usually, the members agreed, these ideas evolve into their best songs.
“We definitely throw any weird ideas out there, not afraid to do that,” keyboardist Vincent Sanchez-Gomez said.
Practicing together religiously helps the band combine its musical tastes into a good song.
“Most every week, and sometimes daily when shows are getting closer,” Koeppen said, the band crowds into a small room in Cashen’s house to practice.
Idella showcases vocalist Koeppen, guitarist Clark, keyboardist Sanchez-Gomez and bassist Cashen, all from Marana High, with Mountain View drummer Pirc. The band warms up in the small room every time it practices, blasting off melodies that are “so crazy that they include groups from Maroon 5” to the jazz band Tower of Power, Cashen said.
Amplified by their tiny room, the musicians’ vibrant sound shakes the walls. Sanchez-Gomez plays a soulful, jazzy piano melody that opens Idella’s new single, “Rely on You.” The drums and bass introduce a Caribbean feel, and then Clark’s grunge-sounding guitar morphs the sound into rock.
In “Coolada,” the band shows the diversity of its musical backgrounds, fluxing from a ’70s techno feel to a jazzy beat to a melody you might hear in a tropical cantina, all under the guidance of Koeppen’s smooth voice.
Idella’s original sound isn’t the band’s only remarkable quality; the group, along with six other Tucson-area bands, was chosen to compete in a Feb. 20 Arizona Daily Star Battle of the Bands concert downtown at The Rialto Theatre.
There, the band will be judged in front of a panel and a live audience.
While the members of Idella are excited to be competing in front of judges, they realize winning over the audience is the most important part of a successful performance.
“The audience needs to feel it,” Koeppen said.
In fact, the band has scrapped many songs that were “too-out-there” or “boring,” the members said, to please its audiences.
“Yeah, we can’t perform a song if we stop feeling it. We don’t want it to be about pleasing the six artists on stage … we want to be about getting the audience to feel what we are feeling,” Pirc explained.
Underneath all the musical meshing and crowd-pleasing, Clark said, is the reason why Idella clicks: because it is built on a base of friendship and love of playing.
“We all love to play music, and we were all friends, so we just combined the two.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: 6th Annual Arizona Daily Star Battle of The Bands
WHEN: 7 p.m., Feb. 20
WHERE: The Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St.
DETAILS: Idella’s official site is at www.myspace.com/idellamusic, where you can listen to a few of the band’s songs and post comments.
COST: Free, with a $2 suggested donation