Four Square Jack (FSJ) plays soulful guitar-oriented rock songs written by vocalist and rhythm guitar player, John Miller. The four-piece group blends chunky rhythms and melodic choruses that are high on the hook quotient, with lyrics that are both introspective and cautiously optimistic.
The band, which features Doug Olberding on lead guitar, Mike Gabrelski on bass, and Rob Dollenmeyer on drums, formed in 2011 after Miller, a successful San Diego-based indie singer/songwriter, moved to Cincinnati. Since Summer 2011, the four have combined talents to reshape some of Miller’s older tunes and craft fresh original songs for a new album in late 2012.
The primary songwriter, John Miller originally hails from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and is the acknowledged mastermind behind the group. He grew up a fan of angst-ridden punk, grunge and alternative styles of music and gravitated toward bands like Social Distortion, Nirvana, and Bad Religion. “In the beginning, many of my songs had a serious punk flavor. There was a hard edge in a lot of my writing, but the acoustic guitar always found its way back into my hands” Miller recalled. It didn’t take him long to realize that he could not maintain sufficient levels of angst to sustain him in the post-punk revival. “Truth be told, I probably never had that much angst to begin with”. For Miller, the writing process begins on the acoustic guitar and his musical arrangements combine his taste for punk, with unequal portions of rock, blues, and jazz. Lyrically, he has allowed his life experiences while bouncing between the east and west coast of the United States to color his song writing. Over the years, this has developed into an appealing indie rock style with a definite southern California overtone.
From 2003 through 2010, Miller honed his sound in the eclectic Ocean Beach music scene in sunny San Diego, California. He was nominated for a San Diego Music Award (SDMA) for Best Acoustic Performance in 2008, for his song Waiting, which was featured on Blindspot Records, Staring at the Sun, Volume VI. His 2009 album release, Vinyl Static Compliments, earned accolades in various San Diego music media outlets (see the PRESS section of this electronic press kit). Vinyl Static Compliments by John Miller and The Payback, was recorded and produced by long time San Diego musician Chuck Schiele, himself a two-time SDMA Winner and multi-time SDMA nominee.
Doug Olberding handles the lead guitar duties for FSJ. Over the years he has played in bands covering a range of musical styles. From punk to Motown, the blues to grunge, and from surf music to 80s college rock, these distinct genres have all affected his lead style and rhythm.
In FSJ, Olberding’s choice of equipment has strong impact on the band’s overall tone. “For Four Square Jack, I decided to stick exclusively with my 1967 Rickenbacker 345 and my Vox AC 15. My pedal board is small with four pedals to effect compression, boost, drive and gain. For modulation, I use the AC 15’s tremolo channel quite a bit and I threw my vintage Electric Mistress on the board for some occasional Leslie-type tones.”
The rhythm section is anchored by Mike Gabrelski and Rob Dollenmeyer who mix up the groovy glue that holds the outfit together. Gabrelski plays mostly finger style bass and he rarely uses effects. His credo: "Work with the drummer to find the perfect rhythmic accompaniment for the song". That being said, he is not shy about exploring the studio space with his 5-string Alembic bass. Gabrelski is a veteran of the Cincinnati music scene and has recorded and played with original musicians Bob Cushing, Gradual Taylor, Pebbles Overflow, Amy Lord Flury and the Sins, among others.
Dollenmeyer rounds out the quartet by pounding the skins on his Gretsch kit and pitching in on vocals. Although originally from the Cincinnati area, Dollenmeyer has had tough time sitting still. His nomadic tendancies have afforded him numerous opportunities to play and record music with musicians across the country, including David Shaw of the New Orleans-based band, The Revivalists. Primarily a rock drummer, Dollenmeyer’s love for jazz music which he discovered while living in New Orleans, has become an important part of his musical style and helps him complete the solid rythmic foundation of FSJ.
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John Miller - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Doug Olberding - Lead Guitar
Mike Gabrelski - Bass