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Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011

Mighty Jam Band Thing

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The Mighty 9ft. Thing began during a dull moment at freshman choir—at least that’s where the band’s name originated. “I drew a tree with a mustache,” says drummer Kyle Kashian. “I called it the Mighty 9ft. Thing.” The picture left an impression. Two years later when the Brookfield East student formed a band with a pair of younger classmates, guitarist James Stanley and bassist Tyler Redmann, that hirsute tree came up for discussion. “It was a weird-enough name that we thought if people heard it, they’d remember it,” Kashian explains.

The strategy seems to be working. With the addition of Lucas Trilling on keyboards, the Mighty 9ft. Thing has been drawing good crowds, first at the Rave during local band nights and lately at the Miramar Theatre, where the band usually plays twice a month. YouTube videos show the 9ft. Thing surrounded by a rapt audience, nodding their heads to the cool guitar licks and fluid rhythm.

At 19, Kashian is the oldest Thing. His band mates won’t graduate from Brookfield East until May. As a result, they have gravitated to the all-ages-friendly Miramar, which affords a venue for young bands whose fans are mostly under 21. “I like the place. People can come right up to you—the stage is only knee high,” Kashian says.

The members of 9ft. Thing originally came together out of a common love of jam bands, especially Phish, Tea Leaf Green and, of course, the Grateful Dead. They also play some Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix (“We’re into classic rock,” Kashian adds), but half of their songs are original—a percentage they intend to increase. Kashian usually writes the lyrics and Stanley finds the guitar riffs; the songs are credited to the whole band because they emerge from basement jams with contributions from every member.

Kashian is adamant about 9ft. Thing growing beyond the influence of the bands they love. “We’re trying to develop our own sound—that’s the hard part!” he says.

Their mix of the new and the familiar has drawn crowds through social networking and—in an old-school touch—word of mouth. They have posted several original tunes on their MySpace page and hope to record enough material for an album later this year.

The Mighty 9ft. Thing plays a 20-minute set Jan. 20 at the Miramar Theatre along with One Sound Border, Undercover Organism, Dub District, Collective, T.W.I.N. Towerz, Psich featuring James Murphy & the Xeno Nox, DJ Bad Omen, Black Treasure, Amerikas Addiction, Mr. Logek & the Noize.