STRIVE STRIVE is the new breed of mainstream artist: relentless in its efforts to tour and promote itself, yet accessible enough that people of all ages and walks of life can latch on and claim the band as their own. “People like good music,” maintains frontman, pianist and songwriter Derick Thompson. “If the lyrics and melodies touch you, it’s less important what musical genre it comes from.

“Music is our passion and, more importantly, it’s a calling,” he says, so sincere you can’t not believe him. STRIVE is one of those rare bands with members who are genuine, lyrics that are heartfelt and sounds that are uplifting, soothing, comfortable. “We want to inspire people to find out what they are passionate about, and then use those passions to make the world a better place.”

Along those lines, you could call the members of STRIVE optimists, purveyors of honest living. In terms of a band mission statement, Derick asserts, “We feel a person can live their life in a way that is truly good for themselves and for others as well. We try to reflect truth and wisdom in the way we live our lives and the music and lyrics we write.”

The three members of this contemporary pop masterpiece—alongside Derick are Will Puth on guitars and Rich Kluckow on bass—are largely self-taught and definitely self-made. STRIVE formed in college; shortly after graduating, they began to devote themselves to the band as a business, and it’s been skyward ever since.

In addition to regional touring and festival appearances around their hometown of Chicago, the boys have been to both Brazil (with their creative arts rock opera) and Russia (25 shows in 21 days)—the latter as part of an AIDS awareness tour. Says Derick, “The most memorable gig we have ever had was to 1,500 orphan kids in a rural city on the outskirts of Moscow. The looks on those kids’ faces is what STRIVE is all about. Regardless of who you are or where you are, we write and play our music because of you.”