Soft N’ Heavy likes contrasts

Young musicians, old school influences

From left: Ben Tarr, Atticus Sorrell, Garrett Spoelhof and Bray Coughlin, photography by Ellie Bogue

Soft N’ Heavy have been together long enough to have a loyal fan base and name recognition in spite of the fact that the senior member of the group, guitarist Atticus Sorrell, is a student at the University of Saint Francis while bassist Ben Tarr, keyboardist Garrett Spoelhof and drummer Bray Coughlin are students at North Side High School. But while they’re very young, many of their influences are very old school.

“I grew up listening to a lot of rock,” Tarr said. “My parents would play Rock 104 in the car everywhere we went. I have always gravitated to rock music. In middle school, I was introduced to jazz, changing my musical perspective forever. I started listening to a lot more music. Probably my favorite band would have to be the Beatles. However, I love several artists like Gary Clark Jr., Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Alabama Shakes. I have a growing vinyl collection and love exploring music and new artists. I approach music with an open mind, interested in the whole world of music out there to be discovered.”

“My biggest influence is rock music from 1965-1978,” Sorrell said, noting favorites as eclectic as the Beatles and Funkadelic, the Allman Brothers and Deep Purple. “I am particularly influenced by psychedelia, acid rock and hard rock from the late ’60s and early ’70s. However, I am also greatly influenced by groove-oriented music from that same era with genres including soul, funk, funk rock, jazz and fusion.”

The three North Side students have a fairly long history together blending those influences with their own sound. Meeting Sorrell was the final piece to the puzzle.

“Ben, Garrett and I were playing in a small jazz combo we started at Memorial Park Middle School,” Coughlin said. “We were playing downtown at the library plaza for Cycle Fest, a Fort Wayne biking event. Atticus was also playing at the event as a solo acoustic guitar act. We clicked immediately.”

The foursome released a digital album last year, which is available on their Bandcamp site, and Tarr says the group is very happy with the results, a collection which perfectly captures their sound and spirit.

“We recorded last spring with Jason Davis at Off the Cuff Studios here in town,” Tarr said. “It was an awesome experience, and we came out with a six-track CD that we are very proud of and we find to represent us very well. We have written several new songs since then and are hoping to get back into the studio soon. We love recording and spreading our music. Nothing is quite like being in the studio. It’s just an awesome feeling. Of course, the goal in the long run of recording is mainly just spreading our music to a wider audience.”

“Our sound is similar to a mixing pot,” said Spoelhof. “We all have our own musical opinions and genres that we prefer. However, a common respect and love for music brings us together and defines our sound. We all have our own thing to bring to the table.”

First appeared in the August 2015 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.


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