In the chilly garage that serves as the band’s practice hall, Brian Collins warms his fingers up with some smooth, bluesy chords. In blurred lettering, the back of his T-shirt reads, “You Can’t Hit What you Can’t See.” This slogan is quickly shown otherwise as Wasabi’s blind keyboardist hits one sweet note after another on the keys below his able hands.
Marshall Van Stone has just finished lighting a stick of incense in a makeshift burner on the garage door. He sits back down to his drums, counts the time and starts practice off with Collins’ original song, “She Won’t Run.” Bassist Ehren Crumpler and guitarist Sean Waters smile at each other as they start playing the lively riffs of this Wasabi creation.
Borrowing its name from a Japanese horseradish, Wasabi is a band that leaves a fiery impression on any live music lover’s taste buds. Playing a mix of jazz, blues, funk, trance and country (all with “a backbone of ass kicking rock ‘n’ roll”), Wasabi offers a spicy new sound to Fort Collins’s music scene.
The four musicians met at an open-mic last winter at Avogadro’s Number while playing with different bands. After hearing each other play, the enthusiastic band members ended up on stage together in what resulted in the biggest jam session Avo-goers ever experienced. Eventually, each respective band split up; and Waters, Crumpler, Collins and Van Stone came together a few months later to make Wasabi.
The newly arranged band of three Fort Collins locals and one Chicagoan quickly found in each other, an opportunity to advance their music to another level.
“Emotionally we each completely pour ourselves into our music,” Waters said. “We’re all equally intense and serious and it shows in the amount of energy we put in everyday.”
All four band members write and compose Wasabi’s music, and all (except for Van Stone) sing lead vocals, each with a distinct sound and style. On stage, the band is nonstop energy that encourages audiences to get on their feet and “boogey their asses off.”
With musical influences ranging from Traffic to Primus to Muddy Waters, Wasabi appeals to more audiences and covers miles of more musical ground than your average local artist.
Playing at Fort Collins favorites like Aggie Theater and Rasta Pasta, Wasabi has already developed a following of devoted fans, made up mostly of CSU students and locals. People who want to hear a classic rock band that keeps playing music, as Crumpler put it, “’till the bar kicks them out” have deemed Wasabi their new favorite flavor.
Wasabi has shows coming up on Friday and Saturday at Rasta Pasta. Their next Fort Collins prospects are the Starlight, Archer’s and Diamonds, as well as Quixote’s and Herman’s Hideaway in Denver.
The band would like to eventually play ski parks and try out the music scene in Chicago or California, but for now they are happily playing their music for Fort Collins listeners and “avoiding work at all costs.”
In music, Waters feels that Wasabi is “happily participating in one of the most divine things in the universe.”