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Monthly Feature
The Follow Up With The Sun
Hometown: Columbia, MO

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The Follow's musical epic started around the lunch table when Troy Rickertsen and Mat Matlack, who at the time were on their high school cross country team together, decided that they wanted to start a band--never mind the instruments. Future Follow drummer, Mat Matlack, immediately decided they needed a hot name like The Fixx has ... and soon after The Follow was born with Troy filling the shoes as frontman and guitarist. After briefly cutting their teeth on favorite Rattle and Hum licks, the twosome started to write and added former bass player, Tom Carty, to the mix.

The band released a friend-financed album. A couple years of regional shows and and paying dues in the clubs found the band ready to produce a stronger release. The only hitch along the way was the loss of bassist Tom Carty, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Troy's then future wife, Amy Rickertsen, joined the band. Amy brought the talent, stability and angelic backing vocals to the trio that at the time was much needed. Amy shares the same die hard perfectionist drive that Troy and Mat were searching for all along.

What unfolded was close to a decade of entrenchment in the Midwest music scene with two full length releases, Origins and Nowaitingplease. They established themselves as a go to opening band for Columbia's famed "The Blue Note" music theatre for national touring acts such as Gravity Kills, gODHEAD, and Zwan. Intense regional touring and three successful rock specialty singles, "Carry On," and "All This Time" brought the band to a new level with play on such influential radio stations as WOXY-FM in Cincinnati, OH. The first single "Carry On" took off and became a favorite on the MTV sound-bed circuit at the time with features on, "Making the Video," and The Discovery Channel's "Outward Bound." The third single "Drive" saw play on over 80 commercials stations nationwide!

The next step presented itself with an insider arranged NYC band showcase for some big label suits at the Continental, an unlikely venue for a band like The Follow, who in reality were much more suited to playing a venue like The Bowery Ballroom." Yet, the band gave their best and filled the dingy hard rocking room with their ethereal layered rock sound. The end result of taking the hard road to New York peaked with a meeting where the band was told, "We love your sound, but you look like three normal kids off the street, not Bono, you could be one of my cousins."

Deciding that though their name is in fact, The Follow, Troy and Mat were not simply wannabe rock star followers and wisely decided to pass on the studded leather jumpsuit industry makeovers and lackluster record deals that had, "shelved," written all over them. Instead the band headed to back to the Midwest with their integrity intact and to make the record that they always wanted to make. The only path they were willing to follow was their own dream of making music and creating a true representation of their artistic vision.

During this time Troy remained busy at work building the new Oni Music recording studio, and furthering his skills as a self-taught music producer and engineer by recording, mixing, and mastering the new Follow record. Thus, Up With Sun is a labor of love that represents the life transitions inside everyone when transitioning into maturity and finding out who a person really is and not being afraid to express his or her core ideas and ideals.

When one first holds these Missouri native's latest release in his or her hands it is hard not to notice the stoic stone statue on the cover bathed in light with its Technicolor blue sky and soft fluffy clouds. Don't let yourself be fooled by the Jesus, as this is not your neighbor's Sandy Patty praise record and it is not some sort of Creed-like rock clone band either. In fact not one of the songs mention Jesus or God, or tells a person that they need to find a house of worship before sundown and repent. Instead, The Midwest threesome chooses to kick off 2006 with an incredibly solid album full of pop songs surrounded by lush layers of sound and hooks that most major label releases lack today. Troy Rickertsen's vocals are hard to pin down as to having any clear-cut resemblance to a modern singer, and could possibly be described as what would happen if Better Than Ezra's Kevin Griffen learned to sing on key. What is brought to the table is a record filled with songs that a person can sing along to, which is sorely missing in today's popular music culture.

For instance, "Anything at All" is the surefire single with it's gut-felt refrain of, "Can you feel inside anything at all ... ," where as, "Heart of Joy," reminisces the positive arena anthems not heard since before 90s rockers U2 decided to save the world instead of just making great music. On the softer introspective side, tracks like, "Back," focus on guitar riffs and dance worthy grooves very similar to what created a band like The Toadies' timeless sticking power. What in the end finds The Follow to be notable as a band is the sincerity and commitment to explore internal issues with an original sound that still allows the band to be completely relatable to many people. Which is what pop radio should be, as opposed to the bastardized sure hit mill it has become. Plus any band that has the balls to make a secular record with Jesus on the cover begs to be explored further. If you wondered what happened to bands that search for a deeper meaning and some sort of fresh musical identity, simply look to The Follow.

Nina Rose - Freelance Writer

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