Print and Go Back ESPN.com: BMX [Print without images]

Saturday, June 9, 2012
Narrows -- a case for endurance


Narrows, from left to right, Jodie Cox, Ryan Frederiksen, Dave Verellen, Sam Stothers and Rob Moran.

This isn't about BMX, but it is about something that helps me get out of the house and achieve that. Here goes.

It would be much easier for the collective members of the band known as Narrows to not be Narrows. Geographically split between San Diego, Seattle and London, the five members of the band, featuring former members of Botch, These Arms Are Snakes and Unbroken (among others) are all in or nearing their mid 30s, engaged in full-time jobs, paying bills, starting families and unfortunately, not selling out huge venues.

They've entered into a new chapter in life outside of the band. One that sometimes requires more attention than subletting a room and getting in the van to perform music. But they've managed to do just that in the time allowed. The band has toured the U.S. and Europe, and released two full-length albums on Boston, Mass. label Deathwish Inc. At a time in their lives when it seems like not being tethered to an ongoing project that requires massive amounts of coordination, time and money might seem the easier way out, Narrows endures. The five members of Narrows (Dave Verellen, Ryan Frederiksen, Rob Moran, Sam Stothers and Jodie Cox) have achieved something many aspire to: a functional work-life-art balance.

The sound of Narrows is not for the faint of heart. It's blistering, cathartic and driving. The low-end of the bass and drums are so powerful that you can actually feel their impact live. The vocals are harsh, grating. And the guitars border somewhere between the experimental, hardcore and just the right amount of angular metal to leave the listener wanting more. It's a combination that doesn't seem to happen anywhere else -- metallic hardcore that drives straight to the point, juxtaposed against artful effects-heavy guitar work.

"Painted," from Narrows.

In March, Narrows released their second full-length album on Deathwish, "Painted." I loved it, first go, before I knew what actually went into the 27-minute album. And then I appreciated it even more. Narrows had outdone themselves. According to the band, under a time crunch from their label, and a visa issue with Cox (a U.K. resident) 4/5 of the band recorded the record in Seattle with Matt Bayles (producer of Minus The Bear, Mastodon, huge sports fan), sending Cox versions of songs and conversing via Skype on how to proceed. Cox would then record guitar overdubs with a different engineer in London and send his recordings back via email.

Ultimately, the band's tireless work effort became "Painted," available for a six dollar download via the Deathwish e-store. And none of them have gotten rich off of their work. It's a theme I've watched, admired and learned from in many people within BMX, skateboarding, literature and music. Outside of work, and paying the bills, and every roadblock that life throws our way, life's pursuits continue to endure against the constraints of life's demands.

Narrows is my latest proof.