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The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

At the Grog Shop: Gentlemen Hall’s Unique Sound

Not many bands can be compared to such big ’80s acts as David Bowie and also boast mainstream success. However, the up-and-coming group Gentlemen Hall  can successfully do both, all with a full-time flautist in their midst. The sextet features two Cleveland members, Gavin Merlot, an ’02 Shaker graduate, (lead vocals and guitar) and Rory Given (bass); the remaining four, Jacob Michael (vocals and guitar), Bradford Alderman (vocal synthesizers), Phil Boucher (drums), and Seth Hachen (flute) met Merlot and Given at Berklee College of Music in Boston. They rose to fame last year after winning Billboard’s Battle of the Bands and are now touring in support of their album, “When We All Disappear.” The band stopped at the Grog Shop on Coventry April 11.

So there are a lot of rumors about your name. Can you clear up exactly what it means?

It is a long-gone mustache grooming saloon in Kansas. But it’s back again in the form of rock and roll. 

Why do you all use so many different instruments? Why in particular do you use the instruments that you use?

We have definitely put an emphasis on unique instrumentation. Flutes, bells, synths, guitars. It keeps the sound fun and keeps our attention (we are all ADD).

What do you like about being in a band and performing?

A lot of the best stuff happens off stage. We get to explore the world and meet fun new party people every night! Being in a band is a crazy journey that none of us could’ve predicted. It’s a blast.

You’ve been compared to the Flaming Lips and David Bowie. Are there any modern artists you would compare yourselves to?

We have been compared to Foster the People, MGMT, passion pit. But it’s been tough for people to make comparisons because we kind of sit on our own. 

To what would you attribute your recent success?

It’s hard to pin one thing. Today it really takes 100 “breaks” to make an artist. We were lucky enough to land a spot on the Billboard Music Awards. That definitely helped. But it really comes down to hard work. Touring, touring, touring. 

What advice would you give kids in high school trying to start bands or eventually trying to make it in music?

Be yourself. Yeah, I know, cliché right? The timeless artists have always found an honest way to project who they were, not who they thought they should be. Imitators are a dime a dozen. And they are only imitating someone that was genuinely being themselves somewhere down the line.

I heard you aren’t signed to a record label. Do you think that will change in the future?

We are not at all opposed to being on the right label at the right time. Shaker’s MGK had a way better label offer than we’ve ever gotten so we’re chillin’ on our own for now and doing just fine!

You’ve been in competitive music situations and contests. How do you feel about shows like “The Voice” and “American Idol”?

They are goofy but fun. I was invited to sing on “The Voice” but turned it down. If that’s your path, then go for it, but it’s not for me. I’d rather be that grungy dude singing in a rock club than that cleaned up guy on TV with makeup caked all over his face.

How do you feel about music being so private now (people plugged into their own iPods, not sharing the music experience)? 

It’s interesting because it is private in some ways, but there are more means to share what you’re listening with friends than ever. Facebook, SPOTIFY, Twitter. All social media is linked into whatever it is you are listening to. We are sharing what we listen to with fans every day. 




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