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Hopper takes next step with PieceMakers (VIDEO)

When the high school campus music scene is not enough, the next natural step is to join a legitimate band. For senior Josh Hopper, a love for music in jazz band and worship team has taken a new avenue: PieceMakers.

Along with lead singer and guitarist Conor B. Moriarty, lead guitarist and vocalist Nicklaus Nowell and drummer Jake Bruekner, the band of young men has grouped together due to a common interest and style in music. They will perform their first concert at Club Retro at 7 p.m., Feb. 17.

The band, already comprised of Moriarty, Nowell and Bruekner, sought the missing component of a bassist. Since Bruekner knew Hopper, he recommended his friend to join the group. Finally meeting with all four members, they knew that PieceMakers was complete.

“Everyone in the band is definitely very skilled at their instrument, so music seemed to come forth effortlessly,” Hopper said. “All of us used each other’s ideas to then expand our own, thus creating a unique sound based upon the foundation of Conor’s original songs. The more we jammed, the more I realized that I had found something truly special.”

According to Moriarty, who is in his final year of homeschooling, Hopper’s musical abilities make him the perfect fit for PieceMakers’s bassist. Sharing ideas and getting to know each other, Moriarty and the band members have come to greatly appreciate Hopper.

“To me, Josh makes the band. And I don’t say that to just to say it,” Moriarty said. “He fit every standard I had made in my mind that a bass player would have to fill. The bass player is the backbone to every band. Musically, Josh is very savvy and brings an absurd amount of musical and personal brilliance to the table. He was the missing link and we still always say, as we watch him drive away from practice, ‘man… I just really love Josh freaking Hopper.'”

With the band fully formed, they play music mostly written by Moriarty, with the exception of some material by Nowell. When it comes to style, PieceMakers range between a number of influences.

“As cliche as it sounds, we all struggle to pinpoint our sound exactly,” Moriarty said. “Certain songs you can hear Maroon 5, others you can hear City and Colour, and others you might hear Switchfoot. It’s a very poppy funk, alternative rock sound, but the songs are dependent on hooks. My personal influences are Dallas Green, William Fitzsimmons, and Joshua Radin.”

After years of involvement in FC music, Hopper has built up a variety of experiences. Between the various groups, he has acquired musical skills, especially through jazz.

“This, I think, is essentially the next step in my musical journey,” Hopper said. “I’ve been in jazz band playing trombone since freshman year, which taught me how to perform effectively and find my place in the song, then put my heart into it. I joined worship team the next year to play drums and bass, which taught me how to listen and put songs together in a matter of a few days. Plus playing on stage every week for people really challenged me to be better, because I had to be.”

When he took the step of joining choir and ensemble, Hopper broke out of his comfort zone, and rose to the occasion. In addition to learning musical leadership, he came to understand the importance of communication.

“I soon found myself in a leadership position in the group because of my confidence, and my musical ear really grew from this point,” Hopper said. “I also learned how to communicate choir songs and make them meaningful to myself and the audience. With all these different experiences, I know that this is the time to use everything I’ve learned, release my creativity and make something beautiful.”

Now that he has moved on to a band, Hopper has found himself facing a dilemma of the next step, deciding between PieceMakers and college.

“College is swiftly approaching and I’m not sure whether I want to go or not,” Hopper said. “Being in a band has always been my dream, so I’ll just take it day by day. I could either stay in town to play gigs, or I could continue my education at either Azusa Pacific University, or somewhere else. At this point, I’m not sure which way to go, but when the time comes to decide, I’ll decide.”

Should he stay with PieceMakers, he would continue in the band’s goals. The band records their first single, “I Hope to Remember,” at JSM Studios, Feb. 10. They have shows lined up in Sacramento and San Francisco, and the band hopes to arrange a two-week tour with local band Pretty Goes Postal.

“We have been blessed in a vast amount of avenues that are required to make it at all in this industry,” Moriarty said. “We have a lot of things lined up for us once we get this single recorded. Many radio stations have expressed great interest in playing our single through the valley. We’ve even had three Bay Area radio stations say they would play the single.”

Moriarty hopes to see an enthused crowd at the concert. Although they will be onstage, he aims to be approachable.

“We are a very energetic bunch of dudes, and we pride ourselves in being able to engage the audience,” Moriarty said. “To me, the reason I go to concerts is obviously to hear great music, but I also want to be able to strike up a conversation with the bands and pick their brains and just relate. I want to create an atmosphere of approachability. I never want anyone to feel like they can’t come up and talk or ask questions. We all have two ears and we’d rather listen to you talk.”

For Hopper, the concert is a chance to display his progression and maturity in the world of music. Even after playing his new music repeatedly, he still finds it enjoyable. Thus, he expects audience members to find entertainment in PieceMakers’s material.

“I obviously want to see my friends at the concert because I want them to see how far I’ve been able to come and what I’ve been able to do these since when I’ve started to play music with them in sixth grade,” Hopper said. “I think the show is really going to be exciting and entertaining. The music we play continually surprises me and excites me, and I’ve heard it a bunch of times, so I think that to a common listener it will be a real treat.

In spite of the band’s big decisions of continuation, the PieceMakers members value their opportunities, especially after forming such strong friendships, Moriarty says.

“We are all like-minded in terms of our goals as a band, our message as individuals and plus, we all love each other to death,” Moriarty said. “We plan on riding this rainbow as far as it will go. Hopefully there’s a pot of gold at the end.”

For tickets to PieceMakers’s show, contact any of the band members. Tickets are $9 in advance, and $12 at the door. PieceMakers’s set will begin at 8:30 p.m. The band aims to have their single, “I Hope to Remember,” released in late February or early March.

For more features, read the Feb. 7 article, Junior high students advance in math.

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