The first time Jared Bakewell asked his friend Nate Gasaway to start a band, Gasaway’s answer was a “no.”
At the time, Bakewell had just picked up guitar, after years of playing the trumpet and the piano.
The next time Bakewell approached Gasaway about starting a band, he had a newly-bought bass guitar in hand. This time, Gasaway agreed it was time and the Big Deep was off and running.
Now the band is putting out its first album, the seven-song Roman Empire.
Bakewell and Gasaway started working with drummer Seth Graber around the end of 2009 with Gasaway singing and playing guitar. Bakewell says at the start, they pretty much got together to do something for fun.
“We were kind of just jamming for 8 or 9 months before we ever thought about playing a show out really,” Gasaway says.
Gasaway says he had handful of songs written over the years. Once they jammed on those for awhile, the band started working on more. Gasaway says when the band finally picked up a lead guitar player, they decided to look into playing shows.
Gasaway says the band’s first venue shows were open mic nights at the Barley Street Tavern, 2735 N. 62nd St in August 2010. Early on, the band also played an opening slot at Stir Live & Loud at Harrah’s Casino in Council Bluffs with Fortnight.
“I was blown away by the amount of people that came out to that,” Gasaway says.
Bakewell says the response of their friends early on kept them going too.
“Our friends didn’t hate it so we thought we would keep doing it,” Bakewell says.
Aside from Bakewell, the other band members also logged plenty of time on other instruments before moving to the instruments they now play in the Big Deep.
Gasaway says he played music in some respect for my whole life. He played saxophone and violin.
“I didn’t really pick up guitar until midway through college,” Gasaway says.
Once he started playing guitar, songwriting quickly followed, Gasaway says.
The Big Deep still plays modified versions of some of those first songs Gasaway wrote.
“It’s really interesting to see how those songs have gone from something I banged out in dorm and now we have a fully produced album with some of those songs on it,” Gasaway says.
Keyboardist Tregan Albers earned a Dana College music degree and played guitar from the time he was 14. Albers says he would come over and hang out with Jared and occupants of house that i now live in. Eventually, the Big Deep asked Albers to try to play keys.
Bakewell’s background came into play on the new release, as he contributes trumpet parts on the CD.
While the band is pretty much the first project for the band mates, the Big Deep are mostly all in their upper 20s or early 30s.
Gasaway says that maturity allows the band members to prioritize their practice time, since they all have jobs and other responsibilities too. Albers credits a lot of that organization to Bakewell, who also serves as the band’s manager.
“We take each other’s time really seriously.” Gasaway says.
Bakewell says most of the time the basic musical concept and especially the lyrics or the message of the song is Gasaway’s. The band then works together on a full arrangement.
Gasaway says he now thinks about how the full band would make a song sound like when it’s fleshed out.
“I never thought about that before writing songs, starting this (band),” Gasaway says. “That’s why it’s so much more fun to play in a band.”
Bakewell contributed “Breaking Down” to the CD.
Gasaway says the band started recording the seven songs that make up their new album back in January 2011 . While the band’s lead guitarist is now Bob Reynolds, former lead guitarist Ryan Tantillio is featured on all but one of the album’s songs.
J. Scott Gaeta engineered, produced and mixed Roman Empire at his Music Factory Productions space.
Bakewell says the sessions started out with the band just wanting to get something down. Gaeta brought a really professional take to it and the end result was a polished collection of songs. The initial thought was a clear-sound demo, but the end result is a full-fledged album.
Gasaway says Gaeta, who played organ and guitar on the recordings, made clear from the start that anything he would work on would result in an album-worthy sound.
“The project really kind of grew from that,” Gasaway says.
Gasaway says the finished product is a good representation of what the band can do. It features contributions Blue Bird’s Marta Fiedler, violinist Kaitlyn Maria Filippini, Tara Vaughan and multi-instrumentalist Ben Zinn.
Bakewell says Gaeta helped guide the band as their sound evolved over the course of the sessions.
“He was a real boost to us as far as defining what our recordings were going to sound like,” Bakewell says.
The Big Deep w/ Landing on the Moon, Blue Bird and Bad Country play the Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St., Friday, Jan. 20th at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information, visit onepercentproductions.com.