Despite traversing the waters of change, The Infatuations have been riding a wave of success which began in 2014 and continues today.
To say that The Infatuations have had one helluva year would be an understatement. Simply put, this top shelf band was one of Detroitâ€™s most favorite hometown musical offerings of 2014 with extraordinary success moving into the new year.
The band kicked off 2014 with 14 Detroit Music Award nominations (5 wins including Best Music Video for â€œYesterday Morningâ€ which was filmed at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Max M. Fisher Music Center with the Detroit Metropolitan Youth Symphony) and an explosion of non-stop performances coming off their sold-out Detroit Block Party album release at Detroitâ€™s historic St. Andrews Hall. A party so hot that, not only was it filled, it was clearly a VIP event in and of itself with an eclectic mix of fans, musicians, writers, filmmakers and deep-rooted industry veterans all gathered in celebration of this groupâ€™s â€œdanceable, unforgettable catchy pop-rock-soul-â€™n-funkbrightâ€ sound. This incredible energy was reflective of the music pouring throughout the room, all under one roof, with everybody dancing their asses off.
As the year continued and the volume cranked-up, The Infatuations opened for Here Come The Mummies at The Fillmore (twice), performed â€œRamblin Gamblin Manâ€ at the Concert of Color as part of the Don Was All Star Revue which was a tribute to Bob Segerâ€™s Live Bullet Album and later in the year closed-out Michael Mooreâ€™s awards ceremony at the prestigious Traverse City Film Festival. Without question, this was the year that took The Infatuations from local to regional, performing well beyond Detroit city limits.
The key to their success? Raw talent combined with six years of hard work, hometown pride and a sound that has continued to creatively evolve.
â€œWe base our music off a lot of genres that have come out of Detroit,â€ said Robert Myers, drummer of The Infatuations. â€œWe take influences from different styles of Detroit-centric music â€“ punk, rock, hip hop, soul, funk, all of it and kinda combine it into our own sensibilities. Itâ€™s just been evolving that way.â€
Part of that ongoing evolution came at the end of 2014 with the departure of the bandâ€™s lead singer and fan favorite, Caleb Gutierrez.
â€œCaleb left us in a really tight spot. He was an amazing talent to have in the band and it took us all by surprise,â€ said John â€œWolfâ€ Abel, bass player of The Infatuations. â€œBut we couldnâ€™t have asked for a better guy to step up and take over the reins than Kendrick. His addition to the band felt natural, organic, like having a cool towel when youâ€™re sick. You just know everything is going to be okay.â€
Kendrick Hardaway, like The Infatuations band members, is a Detroit native. He spent his years before joining the band as a solo artist touring internationally, writing and performing his own music. Hardaway, a triple threat â€“ vocally, musically and lyrically gifted, started singing in his church choir at the age of six. His love of music grew from there and has taken him all over the country, overseas, including Germany, opening for 112 and Montel Jordan.
â€œCaleb is a friend of mine and is an incredible vocalist who I respect and admire. Iâ€™m honored to have gotten to sing with him,â€ said Liz Girard, backup vocalist for The Infatuations. â€œKendrick is also is an amazing singer and I love singing with him as well. He is incredibly creative. As a writer, songs just pour out of him nonstop. Iâ€™ve really enjoyed getting to know him. Heâ€™s a great frontman, a great singer, and a perfect fit.â€
â€œI told Wolf just last night that Iâ€™ve spent a lot of time working with bands, but with The Infatuations, I have what I want,â€ said Kendrick Hardaway, lead singer for The Infatuations. â€œIt was pretty much the Kendrick show, before joining this family and I feel a whole greater dynamic now. Itâ€™s something special.â€
â€œI can concur with that. In 2014 we discussed evolving the band and experimenting with different sounds,â€ said Christian Draheim, guitarist and leader of The Infatuations. â€œKendrick naturally brings that in, gelling with what we were wanting to do. Taking Kendrickâ€™s solo career, mixing it up with The Infatuations, was the progression of what we wanted to do anyway.â€
The year 2015 finds the band coming full circle, starting with the Detroit Music Awards this past March. The band received 8 nominations (1 win) and a coveted spot performing at the event with Hardaway seated as the new frontman.
â€œPerforming at the Detroit Music Awards was such a memorable experience,â€ said Hardaway. â€œIf asked again, I would do it again in a heartbeat. The whole night was fantastic.â€
Remember that epic Detroit Block Party of last year? Itâ€™s now coined â€œinauguralâ€ as this Saturday, May 16th kicks off The Infatuations 2nd Annual Detroit Block Party at St. Andrews Hall. Or as the band refers to it â€œa â€œbig olâ€™ mix of Motown artists with diverse musical genres and influencesâ€. This yearâ€™s continued celebration of Detroit Music includes live performances from The Infatuations (Funk/Soul), The Hamiltons (Rock n’ Roll), Corktown Popes (Celtic/Alt Rock), Gold Crayon (Indie Rock), American Idolâ€™s Keri Lynn Roche (Pop Rock), and Joe Jaber & the Last Divide (Americana/Country).
While 2014 was stacked with nonstop performances, 2015â€™s focus is on writing and getting their new music out.
â€œWe have a new lead singer, so weâ€™re releasing new material. Starting with â€˜Monsterâ€™, a 3-song EP that weâ€™ve decided to give away for free digitally at some point this year,â€ said Draheim. â€œWe want to get people out there jamming to our tunes. Also, at this yearâ€™s Detroit Block Party, we have a few more bands than last year with a focus of covering more genres of Detroit music. Itâ€™s really a variety show that reflects what you might find on an iPod mix.â€
â€œThe goal is to put out songs more often, rather than a full album so we can keep the creative flowing and not be tied down to one project for an extended period of time,â€ said Myers. â€œThis allows us to continue putting out fresh new material, as opposed to â€˜hereâ€™s 11 songs and now weâ€™re going to play those 11 songs for a year.â€™ We keep adding songs as we go, only exponentially.â€
â€œYou donâ€™t sell CDs or albums like you used to, people buy singles. The longer it takes to get product out, the longer youâ€™re kinda hurting yourself,â€ said Draheim. â€œWeâ€™ll keep doing EPs and overtime there will be enough material to put out on an album.â€
â€œThis works for us creatively, because our music is always changing and evolving. When Christian and Marco started the band years ago, they were writing before they even became a band,â€ said Nick Behnan, guitarist of The Infatuations. â€œThe band started with Marco in the beginning and now weâ€™re writing as a band with Kendrick, trying different ideas out. As Wolf said, â€˜Itâ€™s really organicâ€™. Someone has an idea and it quickly moves from there. Things start spontaneously happening. Thatâ€™s the kind of bliss we have.â€
â€œFor example, Wolf had this warm-up exercise that he would do. A bare rudimentary progression of chords that gets you warmed-up to play,â€ said Draheim. â€œIâ€™ve heard him play it a bunch of times and one day I thought â€“ man, thatâ€™s cool song idea there. From that we created â€œA Girl Like Youâ€ â€“ just this crazy funky song from a warm-up exercise. Inspirations comes from all kinds of weird places.â€
The Infatuationsâ€™ new song â€œThe Beepâ€ came together in roughly a half an hour and shows just how well-oiled the band’s creative collaborations have become.
â€œFor ‘The Beep,’Â Kendrick had an idea lyrically, with a little bit of a melody and a verse that he started singing for me. It inspired an idea within me that was kinda like the Munsters, a chord progression that feels like a Quentin Tarantino movie â€“ so I played that,â€ said Behnan. â€œKendrickâ€™s singing, Iâ€™m playing along and Christian comes up with the swanky part that goes over that. Then Wolf contributes his part and Bobby throws in the drums with a 50â€™s sort of vibe.â€
â€œWe literally took a break during rehearsal, Nick and Kendrick came back working on this and we all fell in line,â€ said Draheim. â€œWe wrote it in 30 minutes and had the arrangement all worked-out at the end of the day.
â€œThereâ€™s really no set process. It can be a melody stuck in my head that I am singing all day or I hear something the band might have done,â€ said Hardaway. â€œItâ€™s really one of those processes that come from everything.â€
It doesnâ€™t look like The Infatuations will be slowing down anytime soon. In addition to this years Detroit Block Party on May 16th at St. Andrews Hall, The Infatuations will be in the studio writing more music, filming new music videos and prepping a live album scheduled for released Friday, September 11th at the Black Swamp Arts Festival in Bowling Green, Ohio. The album will be a limited edition offering of eight or nine songs pressed to vinyl.
Tickets for The Infatuationsâ€™ Detroit Block Party can be purchased in advance for $10 via detroitblockparty.org or tomorrow night at Saint Andrews Hall for $15. Doors Open at 6:00pm. The event is 18+ with valid ID.
â€œThe band is incorporating some new elements into the live show that havenâ€™t been seen before,â€ said Hardaway. â€œCome see us. Youâ€™ll be pleasantly surprised.â€
Get your copy of The Infatuations single â€œThe Beepâ€ for FREE at TheBeep.org.
The Detroit Block Party Breakdown:
$10 Pre Sale
$15 at Door
6:00PM Doors Open
7:00PM Concert Begins
Facebook Event Link
Saint Andrews Hall
431 E. Congress
Detroit, MI 48226
Photo credit: Marc Nader