If records - or VHS tapes - hadn’t been invented the members of Geist might not be making beautiful music together.
Something about the spirit of the performers they heard or viewed back in the day connected with the guys.
And, literally, changed their lives.
“One of the first things that got me into guitar was Lindsey Buckingham’s solo on ‘Don’t Stop,’” said guitarist Nathan Woloshin, 25. “When he hits the pitch harmonic. I was just a little kid. I remember it so vividly. I was listening to it in my dad’s car in the backseat. I slid down to the floor air guitaring because I was so into it.”
“When I was 15 I heard Tool’s ‘10,000 Days’ record for the first time,” said bass player Allen Wade, 25. “I don’t know what it was about their sound. Like it was their power. Something about it made me want to explore music more. That eventually lead down the avenue, ‘Well, I like music a lot. Why not play an instrument?’”
He initially chose guitar. “But then I went to Guitar Center to get my first guitar. I saw all these dudes and they were just like shredding it. And I was just like, ‘I’ll play bass.’”
Guitar was “too intimidating,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about music. I didn’t know about how chords worked or scales. Or, really, anything.”
If he’d never seen the 2003 movie, “School of Rock,” Patrick Mulhearn, 20, might not be Geist’s drummer. “I was kind of sleepy because we had just watched ‘Ghostbusters’ and I wanted to go to bed” Mulhearn said.
But he snapped wide awake after a friend put the “School of Rock” tape in the VCR. “I was like, ‘First of all, this movie is hilarious. Two, this music rocks.’ And then there’s the montage where Jack Black is teaching all the kids how to play their instruments, teaching them how to rock and stuff like that.”
“My Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)” by the Ramones played during the montage. “I got goosebumps.”
And, he said, “There was this little clip in the montage of Keith Moon playing the drums as hard as he can. And he just kicks the drum set down and it explodes or something. And I was like, ‘I want to do that. I want to be the guy bashing on the drums, kicking drums. You know, raising hell, I guess.”
Woloshin began writing songs at 12 years old, around the same time he began playing guitar. “A lot of them were probably just abstract thoughts of mine,” he said.
His first band was Five Dollar Date. “From the time that I joined a band I knew that that’s what I wanted to do with my life. Write music and create art that way.”
Woloshin had a lot of friends who were rappers and hip-hop artists, so he began “producing beats and making instrumental stuff like that.”
He was in the hip-hop groups Walks of LIfe and The Bear and Fear, which lead to him and his brother, Jacob Woloshin, 24, making their “May I” album.
“I always wrote my own version of slam poetry,” said Jacob, who is in advertising sales at the Memphis Flyer.
He approached Nathan about doing the album. “It was more or less his baby,” Nathan said. “I just made all the beats for him.”
Nathan then began his solo project, “Purple Cat Jane,” which he continues to do in addition to Geist. “I kind of wanted to just do my own thing.”
Wade didn’t come from a musical family. “No one really nurtured that love of music in me that I didn’t even know I had,” he said.
After discovering Tool and buying a bass, Wade joined his first band. “We didn’t really play any gigs. It was sort of like a bunch of dudes meet up and (play) music. I was more of a bedroom bass player. I would sit down, pick up my bass, play along to records. I memorized a whole bunch of records. All of Tool’s records.”
He joined the jazz program at University of Memphis. “I liked it, but I didn’t have that deep love and appreciation that you have to have in order to survive in that program. Like you have to eat it, breathe it, drink it. You have to live on it, basically. And that just wasn’t me.”
Wade then noticed an ad Nathan posted on a billboard in the music building: “If you like these bands, give us a call.”
“It listed off like Radiohead, the Beatles - like real common bands everyone likes. And I was like, ‘OK. Whatever. Sure.’ I was just like, ‘Why not? What could possibly happen?’”
Mulhearn saw the same ad, but he didn’t answer it. “I was intimidated ‘cause I was like, ‘Oh, no. They’re going to be a bunch of like rock metal guys and they’re going to have really good chops. So, I’m not going to impress them,’” he said. “So, I specifically did not go to that audition.”
That band was short lived. “I don’t think we even had a name,” Nathan said. “It didn’t get very far. We maybe had like three or four rehearsals.”
Mulhearn, who was in several bands before Geist, remembered one of his earliest groups - Bombs Go Boom. “I came up with that like in fourth grade,” he said. “We would basically just mess around. It would end up with us playing Playstation.”
But, he said, “I would hardly call that a band.”
He and his friend, Eli Spake, currently are in another band, Glow Girls.
After the demise of their first band together, Nathan called Wade and asked him if he’d like to play bass in a new group. Wade agreed - and he suggested Mulhearn play drums in the new band.
Nathan was impressed with Mulhearn. “I like Herbie Hancock, stuff like that,” he said. “And, of course, I love Led Zeppelin. He has a mixture of all the drummers I love. All in one. Very John Bonham-esque. Very John Theodore of The Mars Volta.”
“He has a Ringo swing feel, too, sometimes,” Wade said.
Geist was born.
All three band members write the music, but Nathan writes the lyrics, which can be dark and a contrast to the more melodious music. “Dead in the Water” is about a person who’s being thrown in the water with a cinder block tied to them,” Nathan said. “And talking to fish. And just experiencing that death.”
“When I listen to our music it reminds me of me having ADHD,” Mulhearn said. “Where it will all be floaty and dream like and gentle for a second. LIke in ‘Dead in the Water.’ It’ll just be really quiet. And then when you’ve been spacing out, you snap back to reality.”
“I think that’s how life is, too,” Nathan said. “You have your calm moments and then you have your very abrupt, static moments. I feel like we all three push that into our music.”
Describing their newer music, Nathan said, “We had a hint of darkness on our first record. But now we’re sort of diving in the deep end.”
“We’ve really kind of honed in on our own sound and kind of produce it in a way that’s more ourselves than just me and Allen having a riff and going to Pat with it. Or me coming to Allen with something or Allen coming to me with something. It’s like we’re all kind of getting together at the same time and pushing it out.”
Nathan came up with the name, Geist, which “means ‘ghost’ in German,” he said.
"I always interpreted it as the spirit of all three of us in one group,” Wade said. “Like the energy, the passion, the love we have for music. All in one name.”
Geist at "Blue TOM Records Memphis Music Industry" 8-11 p.m. Sept. 26 at Newby’s, 539 South Highland. Also performing: Colorfold, The Midnight Lamp, The Pink Suede, Flirting with Sincerity, Sonic Pulse, Fall of Rome and PRVLG.