Brendon Porter leans across the bench we’re sitting on, unlocks his phone and turns the screen toward me. He opens a messaging app, the keyboard pops up and he glides a finger across it, random words appear in the text box.
“I did this and it came up with two different words and they were Avenue Icon,” said Porter, a freshman biology major, referring to the name of his new four-piece band. “I thought it was pretty neat. We might procure some meaning out of it sometime soon.”
A self-proclaimed jam band, Avenue Icon features Porter on bass, Eric Yoder on guitar, K Sahagian on keyboards and drummer Max Crespo.
On April 22, the band released their first demo on Soundcloud. Called “Live I,” the DIY spirited project was recorded and produced in Crespo’s garage.
Avenue Icon came together through mutual friends and a chance meeting at an open mic night.
“Eric and K have known each other for a long time and I’ve known Eric for a long time. And we were like: We should do something. We have talent. We should put it to use and make some really cool projects,” Porter said.
Yoder, 19, is a sophomore geography major, and Sahagian is a USF Tampa student majoring in industrial engineering.
“We just needed a drummer. The very next day, Eric went to this open mic night at the Iberian Rooster and met Max,” Porter said. “And then all it really took was them needing a bass player and so they called me up a couple days later. We started practicing and it took off pretty quickly.”
“I feel like it’s my calling to be in a band and to create music. If I wasn’t doing that, I would feel that I wasn’t living up to my full potential,” Crespo said.
Avenue Icon named The Grateful Dead, the Beatles, Eagles of Death Metal and Cannibal Corpse as their musical influence, but they refuse to fit their sound into a box.
“Mostly, it’s a lot of jam band material. We have some funk influence, a bit of rock, a bit of alternative. One of our songs is an R&B song,” Porter said.
Crespo added “We’re really serious about our songs all sounding different and being different and not sticking to the same formula every time. We really just jam them out and if it’s good enough, then we go with it.”
Avenue Icon even tries to break the genre formula within a song.
“We have a breakdown in one of our songs that is heavier and more brutal than any metal song you’ve ever heard and then we just seamlessly go into a beautiful, funky disco bass groove,” Crespo said.
For vocals, they trade responsibilities between Yoder and Sahagian, even though Sahagian isn’t a big fan of his own voice.
“I wanted to start a band because I don’t like the sound of my voice and I prefer somebody else would sing. It’s hard to do when you’re soloing,” Sahagian said.
Last week, the band played their first show at an open mic at Iberian Rooster. Over the next three months, they have lined up shows at the Ale and the Witch, Arkane Aleworks in Largo and on WMNF 88.5 FM.
As for new material, two more releases are in the works.
“We plan on making another demo soon and probably at least by the end of the summer, we’re looking to record an actual EP,” Porter said. “Further down the line would be the album.”