The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, February 10, 1994 - 3
Violet Wine performs on campus, waits for big break
By DARCY LOOKMAN
If all success stories have humble
beginnings, Violet Wine just might
be the latest tale of triumph in the
making. Late evening on North Cam-
pus and the evolving rock band be-
gins practicing amidst the broken
chair-desks and black steel music
stands of a second floor music school
classroom. Musty chalk odor and
barely tuned piano, you'd be hard
ressed to find a humbler beginning.
ut singer / lyricist / keyboardist Jeff
Rosenberg remembers the old days
and attempts it.
"We used to
practice in a State
Street basement "I would sa
full of scary and time next y
he shudders, US to havei
laughing. Appar- some serioi
conditions are And that'si
looking better for that I wouli
the band these
days, as is their in music an
status in the Ann think at the
scene. After nine we haven't
long months on something '
arty / Cava Java ourselves ti
ircuit, Violet would chan
Wine will play a
coveted spot at direction. A
theBlindPignext feel like I'm
They didn't forward..."
they'd get there.
For awhile, they
didn't even know
After helping Rosenberg break a
national Subway submarine selling
record (231 in one hour), Justin Yunke
became the band's permanent drum-
mer. Recently, Yunke's scholastic
commitments forced him to leave the
band. Tonight, Matt Miller sits where
Yunke would have been just weeks
before, on the metal stool in front of a
rickety drum kit. Due to another re-
cent departure (that of singer Gary
Thomas), Rosenberg takes over on
In this room stands the new Violet
for the first time
in their present
f at this incarnation.
ear I expect Humble begin-
eally made "I'm lost,"
is progress. says Miller, hav-
ing trouble keep-
iot to say ing up with "Va-
l not work cation" as he at-
tempts it for the
ymore, but I first time.
t point if "You're just
doing the down-
really done beats on the sec-
'or ond half of the
eighth bar," ex-
tat we plains Siegel.
ge They start
over. This time
s long as I Miller gets it and
moving the four get lost
in their music as
it carries them off
Errol Siegel of North Campus
and onto a stage
in front of a
crowd. But only for a brief moment.
They end rather abruptly and Miller
glances questioningly at Siegel, drum
"We haven't totally figured out
how to end it yet," the guitarist says
"Well, the end is sort of like the
beginning - one of those,"
Rosenberg does a drum roll on the
cymbals with his fingers in explana-
The four - a picture of Gap-
grunge, late-night scruffiness-move
on to the next song. "Miss Mary's
head was ticking like a bomb," sings
an unamplified, barely audible
Rosenberg, "Any dose of aspirin had
long since been gone."
Miller cuts in, "I'm really drown-
ing in this stuff so far."
"The arrangement's kind of
funny," Abramson allows.
"You're doing fine," Siegel com-
"All you need to do is keep a
steady tempo," Rosenberg advises.
It is a bizarrely tender scene, these
three recent University of Michigan
graduates training their new drum-
mer: the music is their baby, and
ANASTASIA BANICKI/ Daily
Violet Wine spends more time in practice rooms than on playgrounds. Need proof? Go hear Siegel, Abramson and Rosenberg (Miller not pictured) at the Pig.
vho they were going to be the next
day. In the last year, the band has gone
tbrough three singers, two bass play-
es and countless scab drummers.
They even changed their name once.
But from the beginning, there have
been two - Rosenberg and guitarist/
songwriter Errol Siegel.
Rosenberg remembers, "Three
years ago I put an ad in The Daily,
'Seeking serious musicians.' About
6 guitar players showed up. Errol
was one of them." More humble be-
ginnings. Tight Violet was born.
Siegel and Rosenberg "hung out
and wrote songs" for awhile - wait-
ing to find a bass player, a drummer
and a "killer female vocalist." They
got all three. But the bass player ran
off with the singer, and the drummer
ran off to do Club Fabulous, leaving
Qhe keyboardist and the guitar player
fight back where they started, less the
tname Tight Violet.
Enter basist Lee "J Cool"
4Abramson. "They stole me from an-
opther band," tells the erstwhile psy-
chology major, "I believe they called
.themselves 'Another Grateful Dead
mover Band.' I didn't like the Grate-
Abramson, Siegel and Rosenberg take
great pains to ensure Miller learns to
care for it properly, that he does not
drop it on its precious head.
They begin again. This time, the
drummer holds steady. Rosenberg
gives him a thumbs up. Once more,
Violet Wine has metamorphisized.
With the exception of Miller (a
junior at Spring Arbor College), the
members of Violet Wine are now full
time musicians. Their commitment
comes through in the music. Even as
they rehearse in the acoustically im-
perfect classroom with both new
singer and new drummer, the progress
Violet Wine has made since last
summer's recording of their first al-
bum ("Violet Wine") is clear. While
not necessarily more polished, the
band's sound is cleaner, more fun.
But what exactly are they singing
"Jeff's lyric writing is pretty much
stream of consciousness," says Siegel.
Take "Tie Up the Cat" for ex-
ample. Explains Rosenberg, "If
you've ever had sex in a room with
someone who has a pet and likes them
a lot, they (the pet) get really jealous
and want attention. So tie up the cat is
like, okay, remove your pet from the
So your songs are about sex?
"No," he continues, "The song is
about a house full of random people
and they're all kind of wrapped up in
their own stuff, so they don't really
know what their roomates are doing.
The point of it being, yeah, we're
weird but it's not necessarily a happy
So your songs are about college?
"No, it's about a guy, and obviously
he's depressed." Enough questions.
While happy to be playing the
Blind Pig - as well as to be appear-
ing semi-regularly at local spots like
CavaJava, Rick's and Cross Street-
Violet Wine acknowledges they have
a long way to go before they make it.
How long do they give themselves?
"I would say at this time next year
I expect us to have really made some
serious progress. And that's not to say
that I would not work in music any-
more, but I think at that point if we
haven't really done something for
ourselves that we would change mu-
sical direction. As long as I feel like
I'm moving forward...," Siegel trails
Abramsonjumps in, "Five to seven
years. My degree doesn't help me at
all, and I can't bear the thought of
going back to school until I'm like 30
Rosenberg speaks next, "If a year
from now, we're not a hell of lot
better off, I don't know, maybe I'll
seek something a little, I don't know,
something not exactly what I'm do-
Miller hesitates, "I got the gig a
week ago so I don't know. I'm willing
to give it what it takes. I know people
' that tried other musical ventures that
spent 10, 20 years doing odds and
ends, but when they did make it, they
made it really big."
The band picks up their instru-
ments and begins yet another song in
this cluttered classroom in the dark-
ness between Bursley and the North
Campus Commons. Humble begin-
nings. The stuffof every success story.
VIOLET WINE will play Tuesday,
February 15 at the Blind Pig.
I S. ML CE
$ # PITCH. DRINKS BUD
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