Local band blurs the lines between funk, rock, jam and punk

Jan 21, 2013

From left to right: Bassist Evan Kincaid, drummer Matt Curtis, and guitarist Jason Curtis. Keyboard player Cris Kauffman is not pictured.
Credit Pleasant Drive

Kalamazoo band Pleasant Drive will play Friday night at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. Band members Jason Curtis and Evan Kincaid describe their music as dynamic. From song to song, you could hear influences from Pink Floyd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime, or The White Stripes.

Bassist Kincaid says the song called EDG best represents the band because it shows how much they can do with just those three simple notes.

“It’s not the notes you’re playing it’s how you play it,” he says. “Well there’s a lot of emphasis during certain parts, like it speeds up and there’s more or less a disco drum beat behind it. And its…I’m still doing really the same thing, my strumming pattern changes. How I’m playing the root fifth and other things like that on top of the note just added more power.”

But with catchy jams like this, you’d never guess Pleasant Drive had a rocky past. Guitarist and lead vocalist Jason Curtis tells their story.

“Pleasant Drive started off when me and Matt were 17, being seniors in high school. We had another singer, our best friend Dominic and he was also our keyboardist—our original keyboard player too. We played some shows here and there, some grad parties, and then we all kind of split off for a couple years. And then back in ’07 our bass player—I mean we were still really good friends, we weren’t doing the band thing too much—but he kind of made some bad choices. And so we decided...I want to make an effort. Cause he’s my best friend, I’m going to help him out. And so we started playing again and started doing really well with shows. And we wrote a whole new set of music and it was phenomenal. But he ended up passing away after we got the band back together and that just…All of us were just ready to quit school and just pretty much ‘We’re going to go to the big city and we’re going to make it.’ That was our mentality. And I’m so glad that we didn’t because we probably would have gotten taken advantage of and ended up doing God knows what. But anyway, that happened so I was done with music personally after he passed away, cause I didn’t want another person playing bass for me. Because me and him had such a…we connected so well as far as playing music together. But I moved out to Colorado after that happened. I had to get out of town because I lost like four friends in eight months, and I was really heartbroken and just kind of distraught over Kalamazoo.”

After living in Denver for a year, Curtis moved back to Kalamazoo to finish up paramedic school. He started up the band again with his brother Matt and bassist Evan Kincaid, and just recently added keyboardist Cris Kauffman. 

Though the band’s sound can be upbeat and even danceable, Pleasant Drive still wears its heart on its sleeve with its lyrics, like in the song Royal Flush.

“I mean, the second verse says ‘Now the dealer has dealt your cards and you look at them and try to play your heart. But it’s the heart of a fool, looking like someone with something to lose.’ It’s pretty much like saying ‘You’re willing to play your heart out for something you know you’re going to lose on, like what’s the point of that?’” says Curtis. “They couldn’t stand up to the daily issues and change either their environment or themselves or their schedule for the day to make…to be a happier person.”

You can hear Pleasant Drive Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.