Trackless on a new path

Band birthed by gig that got away

Trackless, photography by Ellie Bogue

Trackless, photography by Ellie Bogue

Some bands spend years working together, honing a sound, dreaming of a future in the music business. While the individual members of area band Trackless – Jordan West, William Smith, Jeremy Jones, Jon Nelson and Paul Witkamp – had each pursued music in their own ways, their sudden success has been almost accidental. With the quintet pursuing degrees at Ball State University, they had worked together in various combinations over the years, helping out with student recording projects and each other’s academic assignments, but there was never a plan to form a band. Until one day they did.

“I needed a band for a gig, and I got those guys together to play with me,” says West, who serves as the band’s drummer and vocalist. “It was only supposed to be for that one gig. But then that never actually happened, and we ended up deciding to keep playing together.”

Nelson is finishing his studies at Ball State while the other members are currently living in either Muncie or Fort Wayne. They get together frequently for rehearsals and to play material from their first CD, gaining fans throughout the area while winning last summer’s Battle of the Bands. Although they didn’t spend years developing their sound, West says their similar experience and musical influences provided a solid sound as they were forming Trackless.

“We all had a common background in jazz and had played with the jazz band at Ball State. But as we started playing together, we were really influenced by pop, funk, R&B, and our writing has really turned toward that sound.”

One key change for Trackless, and for West herself, has been her opportunity to sing. While there had initially been one other female singer, she has since left the group, leaving West to fill that void.

“Initially Jeremy was the lead singer along with this other girl, but when she left I had to cover for her on those vocals. I wasn’t sure at first, but it’s turned out to be a very natural thing. I find it easier to sing and play drums at the same time than to sing without playing. Sometimes when we’re recording, I’ll play a bass or guitar that isn’t plugged in while I record the vocals because I feel much better singing when I’m playing an instrument.”

For those who have developed a fondness for the band, as well as for those who haven’t caught them yet but wish to, there’s no time like the present as Trackless is already making plans to move to Los Angeles next year to try their luck in a bigger market. West’s fiancé is moving to California for law school, and the rest of the band plans to follow along, to keep Trackless on track. In the meantime, they continue work on their second CD which they hope to release in January. Clearly their fate was sealed as soon as West booked that show that got away.

“Once we were all together practicing for that gig that never happened, we realized that this was what we wanted to do. We knew from then that we had something unique and that we wanted to keep doing it.”

First appeared in the September 2014 Fort Wayne Monthly.

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