Making Music: What It’s Like on Stage

This is the Heart and Soul of the Live Experience

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For the Duluth-based Fearless Moral Inventory, their musical journey began as two friends playing guitar together.

Now they’re a five-piece band that’s been rocking since 2007.

“The first real good show was at Hell’s Burgers, if you remember that place,” recalls lead guitar player Corey Gice.

Gice says he started taking the process of making music more seriously when he and his buddy Andrew Stern were able to recruit a few more friends to play bass and drums.

“From the beginning, it was obvious that the songs were good,” Gice said. “And that we needed to be better to make the songs better.”

And as the years went on, more song were written and many more gigs went under their belts.

Playing live – for some musicians – is the way to make money.

For many others, it’s just a way to share their art with whoever will listen.

“Something I wrote eight years ago when I was feeling bad or feeling happy or angry or whatever can make people dance or actually look at you while you’re playing and put down their beer and actually listen,” said Stern, who is the rhythm guitarist, lead vocalist, and head songwriter of Fearless Moral Inventory.

Gice says the live experience is what keeps him going.

“I kind of liken it to buying a lottery ticket every week,” Gice said. “You know you’re not going to win. But you think of all the stuff you do when you win. That kind of keeps you going to buy another one.”

Even musicians that have been playing for years say their emotions take a roller coaster ride before, during, and after a show.

“It feels like you’re going to puke and then pass out because you’re so nervous, almost every show,” said Ryan Young, fiddle player for Trampled by Turtles.

Trampled by Turtles is originally from Duluth, but they’ve become a band that now tours the world.

“I have the best view of anybody at the show,” Young says, smiling. “I get can turn my head and see the band. But I get to see the audience go crazy. Sometimes at a wild and rowdy show, that’s a better show than what we’re putting on!”

For the crowd it’s entertainment; for the band members, it’s something more.

“The live experience for me is euphoric,” explains Fearless Moral Inventory drummer Jim Mattson. “If we do an hour setlist, once or twice I’ll hit a stage of euphoria where it’s just the music. I’m not thinking about what I’m playing on drums. I’m thinking about what can I play to accent these guys?”

And whether the crowd is just a few people at a bar, or something bigger, the feeling inside the musicians on stage is at times larger than life.

“It’s anxious. It’s nerve-racking. Then after you play a song or two it’s beautiful,” says Gice, introspectively. “Once you start getting out of your own head and hearing what everyone else is doing and reacting to them it becomes a team, and that’s probably the best part of it.”

Stern takes his thoughts back to the beginning:

“The only reason why I learned how to play guitar was because I wanted to write songs. And no one would play with me,” recalls. “[And] has it been worth is so far? Because if I wasn’t doing this, I think I would freak out.” 

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