Great Waves look to crash music scene

January 12, 2010

By Christopher Huber

The Great Waves are (from left) Will Holmes, Ryan Sprute, Ashley Bullock and Paul Beeman. Contributed

The Great Waves are (from left) Will Holmes, Ryan Sprute, Ashley Bullock and Paul Beeman. Contributed

Skyline grads take year off from college to record first EP, ‘Blue Blood’

Until her junior year in high school, Ashley Bullock, a 2007 Skyline High School graduate, wasn’t really into music.

She was a bit shy and was more interested in having intellectual conversations and debates with friends, said her father Ed Bullock.

But when she sang for her boyfriend Paul Beeman and his band, The Matirns, during a tryout in their practice garage, they made her their lead singer.

Now called the Great Waves, the Sammamish-based band released its first EP “Blue Blood” on Dec. 2.

“It was just kind of a relief,” Ashley Bullock said. “It’s something I’m more proud of than anything I’ve done in my life. It’s something I know I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”

The only reason the group got it done, though, is because the members (all 2007 graduates from Skyline and Eastside Catholic high schools) took a full year off from college. At first, they were just going to record at the end of the summer, Ashley Bullock said.

“When we decided to expand and take a whole year off, I felt it was a bit more pressure,” she said.

They told their parents in August, saved up thousands of dollars and practiced for three months to record and master the songs.

“It was shocking at first. It was a surprise,” Ed Bullock said. “When they presented it to us, they had it pretty well thought through.”

Although the band members — Bullock, Beeman, Will Holmes and Ryan Sprute — had gone off to different colleges, the four had formed a bond in high school that stayed with them as each focused on their studies and tried to play with other bands.

The four would play together during school breaks, while back home in Sammamish, but they didn’t have time to do much else, Beeman said.

“I think they realized that they had something going, that they couldn’t wait two to three years to do, and that this is a unique opportunity to create something,” Ed Bullock said.

The Great Waves reunited last summer and wrote the five songs on the EP. They’ve spent countless hours practicing, tweaking and marketing their music.

“Once we had the songs written, we just practiced like crazy,” Beeman said.

They play all day, hitting plenty of bumps in the music-making road, and work side jobs to try and stay afloat financially, Beeman said. But having a CD to show for it was all worth it.

“There’s definitely that factor in where you have days when you’re not inspired and (have) terrible practices,” he said. “It’s stressful as hell when we’re together, but you play with lot of people and it’s just not there.”

The Great Waves got its start at Pine Lake Middle School, when classmates Beeman and Holmes teamed up to play in various bands for fun. They brought in Bullock as lead vocals and drummer Sprute. They have collaborated with musician friends to create certain effects in their alternative-indie-folk-style songs, and have been likened to groups like Allison Krauss and the Pixies, according to the band’s Web site.

Those close to the band said the Great Waves is good live, but is working on its stage presence. Spending so much practice time together and recording a CD seems to be a step in the right direction.

“I think it’s pretty cool that they were actually able to finish something,” Great Waves fan Nick Lee said. He said they have worked well together, “definitely because they’ve been friends so long. Their tastes are able to grow together, so they have a feel for the music better.”

Beeman said the band develops around what styles highlight Ashley’s voice — think a mix of Zooey Deschanel and Regina Spektor.

“For the most part, we want to still focus on what makes Ashley’s voice sound natural, while also having the band have some sort of aggression to it,” he said.

As for the future of Great Waves, Beeman said they are taking it easier for a bit as they market the EP to radio stations and such. With plenty of time left in their year off from school, the group hopes to record more, he said.

“It’s worth staying with,” Ed Bullock said.

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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