SCOTT JASON : PIANO & KEYS
CLAYTON STROOPE : VOCALS
DREW CRIBLEY : GUITARS
BRET COHUNE : BASS
PAUL NIEDERMIER : DRUMS, PERCUSSION
Majesty, Magic, and Musicality are elements that signal an enduring and memorable rock band. Wind-up recording artist, Thriving Ivory, epitomize those timeless marks of musical greatness.
That's why reviewers and tastemakers are scrambling for superlatives and making bold predictions as the Bay Area-based quintet rise from the grassroots towards their destiny. "When it comes to Thriving Ivory, it's not a matter of if... it's when," says cutting edge webzine The Owl Mag. "They sound like they'd be right at home in a big arena," notes indie music hotspot Insomnia Radio. "[A] band like Thriving Ivory is one in a million," observes DecoyMusic.com. "Simply awe inspiring," raves the Sonoma State Star.
San Francisco rock radio station KITS Live 105 added the unsigned band's demo of their cornerstone song "Angels on the Moon" early in the band's career. It leapt past far more established acts to become a Top Five listener request, and earn year-end accolades on the "Best Of" lists by the station's staff. As the fan base grew, and Thriving Ivory became a red-hot concert attraction across California, Arizona and Nevada (and already expanding nationwide), they continued to pack enthusiasts into such blue-ribbon venues in their Bay Area home base as The Great American Music Hall, Slims, and The Independent.
It takes but a listen to Thriving Ivory's self-titled debut to hear the indelible sound of timeless rock for modern day music lovers that has created such a stir. It's a stunning and captivating disc that matches musical grandeur and punch with visceral emotional impact and melodies that embed themselves into the listener's consciousness.
At the center of the sound are the trademark pipes of singer Clayton Stroope, whose vocals possess an awesome power that "literally melts you away with his ability to completely take control of the song and the listener," notes DecoyMusic.com. The band's prodigious musicality enriches each number while the cinematic melodies and lyrics not only enchant with elemental emotions and the spirits of ghosts and angels but also possess the power to inspire, evoke, comfort and even heal.
Fan favorites include such haunting tracks as the first single, "Angels on The Moon," as well as "Alien," and epic ballads "Hey Lady" and "Overrated." Songs like "Twilight" and "Secret Life" paint glistening, picturesque canvases, and the band's gift for melding dynamics and drive distinguish "Long Hallway With a Broken Light," "For Heaven's Sake," "Unhappy" and "Light Up Mississippi." From the bravura opening strains of "Runaway" to the magnificent closing crescendo of "Day of Rain," the disc is not just an album but a full-blooded and emotionally palpable musical, lyrical and sonic experience.
The bulk of the 12-song set was produced by Chris Manning, the former Jellyfish bassist whose credits include work with Santana, Metallica and Third Eye Blind. Two tracks recorded with noted producer Howard Benson (Daughtry, My Chemical Romance, All-American Rejects, Seether) round out the album, on which the strings of the Los Angeles Symphony augment Thriving Ivory's grandeur on "Hey Lady."
Thriving Ivory's potent musical and lyrical alchemy first began to percolate when singer Clayton Stroope and piano player / songwriter Scott Jason met while they were students at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "As soon as I heard Clayton sing, that was pretty much it — let's form a band," recalls Jason. "Scott's songs have this wonderful lyrical depth to them and are very accessible," says Stroope. "It is so easy to put my vocal emotions into them."
First to sign on with them was guitarist Drew Cribley. Drummer Paul Niedermier followed, the moment "I heard Clayton sing," he says, "I knew right away that this was something I wanted to be a part of. Within the first couple of weeks, we were playing before 500 to 600 screaming college kids." Bassist Bret Cohune was the final component of Thriving Ivory's dynamic equation. "I was in another group playing around Santa Barbara, but I used to watch these guys all the time and was kind of in awe," he says. "They were on a whole other level, the kind of band I wanted to be in."
After enthralling the Santa Barbara College community the group relocated to San Francisco as their buzz grew. Self-released discs and the Internet helped spread the word, pulling in more than half a million hits to Thriving Ivory's MySpace music player.
Thriving Ivory's live shows sealed the deal with anyone who witnessed one. "I was immediately attracted to Thriving Ivory's sound," notes an admittedly "stubborn and hardheaded" Sonoma State Star reviewer. "It was surprisingly melodic, sweeping and triumphant. The vocals were raw, gritty and yet refined and pleasantly reminiscent of a young Robert Plant. The piano was simply enchanting, providing a sturdy backbone for their sound, which was rounded off with laid back guitar riffs, smooth bass and rhythmic drums...Their music is larger than they know... The band exudes a cohesion found only in seasoned bands like the Rolling Stones, and yet, they are seemingly unaware of how big they could be."
Veteran manager Arnold Pustinik (former management partner of legendary rock impresario Bill Graham) was piqued by a demo to catch a live show that wowed him and joined forces with the group. Thriving Ivory began recording their album with Manning in the basement of Cribley's family home as major labels sniffed out the buzz and came courting. But it was an immediate offer from Wind-up Records that presented Thriving Ivory with the ideal launching pad for the final stage of their ascent to rock music's upper stratosphere.
All of the traits that signal future greatness and echo legendary music and acts that came before are found in Thriving Ivory. "[S]weeping, majestic songs with catchy choruses and really, really wonderful vocals and an awesome backdrop of piano," notes Insomnia Radio of the group's rich and rocking sound. "Clayton Stroope, the band's frontman, has a voice that's a throwback to classic rock-opera vocal cords, and a swagger and shimmy reminiscent of Robert Plant in ‘The Song Remains the Same,'" observes the LA Music Scene. "Throw a pouty Jagger-esque pucker into the equation and he's an obvious centerpiece."
And then there are the songs, which crackle with the yin/yang fission of the personal and universal. With vivid imagery and enchanting storytelling matched by melodic richness and allure, they delve into the essential quandaries of life, love and the meanings to be divined within human existence. "The magic is in the mystery," says Jason of his compositional approach.
"Music is an endless pursuit of the unattainable for me," he explains. The bar for Jason's creative aspirations was set by how deeply he was affected by U2 in their DVD "Where the Streets Have No Name," and how the band enthralled their native Dublin audience with their songs and performance. "I want to move people the way that moved me," he says. "We want our songs to be something that will stand the test of time."
"Everybody who hears us is really touched," observes Cribley. "This music is built to last."
"[L]ike true rock stars they exude the ‘it' factor, setting them apart," concludes The Owl Mag of Thriving Ivory. As DecoyMusic.com sagaciously predicts, "One listen to them and you'll be hooked."