Fort Collins music scene stalwarts 12 Cents for Marvin will be playing two shows this Saturday, one at the CSU Tailgate Party at Hughes Stadium before the game and the other that night at Linden’s.
For those of you unfamiliar with 12 Cents, they are a seven-piece ska/reggae band with hints of jazz, funk and rock that came to be in 1996 after the members met in the Ingersoll residence hall. Only two of those original members remain, Tom Werge on lead vocals, trumpet and trombone, and Hilary Spriggs on bass, but this hasn’t stopped Werge and Spriggs from forging on with the 12 Cents name with new musicians. The current line-up of the band consists of Nik Levinsky on guitar, Ben Buston on keyboards, Soren Daugaard on drums, Aaron Spriggs on thereman, and Pat Connors on saxophone.
The band jokes they have gone through at least twenty members during their tenure and this has contributed to their ever-evolving style. As band members came and went due to graduation, marriage and the like, they took along with them certain influences and contributed their own style to the band. The influences of the current incarnation of 12 cents range from ska, classic rock, reggae, underground hip-hop and the list goes on.
The band’s key to dealing with so many influences and members coming and going has been just having fun playing music. The band approaches the writing of their music in a very democratic way, allowing each member to get their say in on what should and shouldn’t be done.
“We’re very comfortable with each other so we can call each other on stupid stuff,” said Werge.
Fun, though, isn’t 12 cents only secret to their longevity. According to Werge, it also requires a “shitload of hard work,” to keep their music out there. This is a do-it-yourself type of band. Whether they are putting out their own albums on their independent label, Ingy Records (a shout-out to Ingersoll), promoting their own shows or going out on the road, the band shows signs of a great work ethic.
As most of the members of the band have other commitments such as school and full-time jobs, it requires a great deal of effort and time to keep this band together, but 12 cents has been able to do this because of their DIY (do-it-yourself) spirit.
This spirit also explains how they’ve been able to keep such a good following over the years.
“It’s tough in Fort Collins because you have to constantly re-establish your local following because of the influx of people,” said Werge.
Despite this 12 cents has had a “fairly consistent following,” resulting from playing local venues such as Linden’s, the Aggie Theater, and the Starlight quite frequently, and also from touring the Western states.
12 Cents for Marvin, outside of all the hard work put into the band, is really all about the fun. Their sound, as described by Werge and Spriggs, is a “culmination of multiple styles” that “has an upbeat feel to it, and people like to dance to.” And after so many members, two albums and touring, Werge feels they have finally “come into their own sound, which is really awesome to have.”