Almost There have finally arrived.
After seven years and three EPs, the Asbury Park melodic rock trio in April released their exceptional debut album, “Abandon the Sinking Ship.” Propelled by bright and efficient guitar work, a solid rhythm section and two equally talented lead vocalists, the band impresses by staking out a unique sound in an over-populated and overly derivative indie-rock world.
Almost There performs a homecoming show on Friday, Oct. 5, at The Saint in Asbury Park. “We didn’t play locally that much at all this whole summer,” said bassist-singer Zach Sicherman from a tour stop in Massachusetts. “Some of our friends and fans have been waiting to see us for a while, and we’re happy to come home.”
Sicherman said Almost There’s diverse sound is an amalgamation of the multiple influences that he and guitarist-singer Ed Soles have shared over the years. “We have a pop-punk influence but also listen to everything from a cappella to jazz. We went through a big reggae phase,” he said. “Ten years later it's all come together. It’s been a natural progression of things.”
The band recently welcomed new drummer Mike Lucchetti, who can be heard on Almost There's cover of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” A video for the song is posted on the group’s website, www.almostthererock.com.
“I’ve always been a big Sinatra fan,” Sicherman said. “He was a classy guy and the music just speaks for itself. For us to take a big band arrangement and have it not feel empty with a three piece rock band was a challenge for us. It was an experiment and it’s cool. I like how it came out.”
Though Almost There officially formed in 2005, Sicherman and Soles began playing together when they were freshman attending Ocean Township High School in the early ’00s. After jamming on pop-punk songs by Blink-182 and Green Day, the duo’s band, RDX, quickly turned to writing original music, churning out more than 100 songs by graduation, and refining its sound and stage show with hundreds of live performances.
“Back in high school we played all over New Jersey,” Sicherman said. “We played the Saint, the Stone Pony, VFW halls, Spring Lake Heights Community Center, Vineland, the [now defunct] Birch Hill [in Old Bridge], a couple places in Pennsylvania. We really got around.”
Almost There gained national recognition in 2009 when it won a 7-11 Battle of the Bands Contest, taking home $11,000 that the group used to buy professional recording equipment. In 2010, “Can I Take You Home” was voted best song in a Myspace records contest, earning the band a free recording session in Los Angeles with producer Jon Pikus (Pennywise, The Ataris) and engineer Ryan Williams (30 Seconds to Mars, Dashboard Confessional).
“There were over 9,000 submissions [in the Myspace competition],” Sicherman said. “It was definitely a big break for us.” He said working with Pikus and Williams helped Almost There tighten its song arrangements and hone its sound. “They’re very quick and precise and knew exactly how to get the best performances out of us,” Sicherman said. “They’re like coaches in a sense.”
Later in 2010, Almost There struck contest gold again, winning a 95.9 WRAT Best Band Contest that landed them frequent airplay and a spot onstage at the RatFest at PNC Bank Arts Center. Despite the group’s success in the contest arena, Sicherman cautioned that new bands should focus on them only to a certain extent.
“The contests are definitely good if you can take advantage of them, but more and more you see bands spending half a year trying to win these contests and not really spending time on their live show or putting together a good local scene or writing songs,” Sicherman said. “I don’t want to say you shouldn’t do it, but you shouldn’t be expending too much energy on it.”
IF YOU GO: Almost There, The Foreign Resort, Set It Free, The Call Out, Throwbacks and Vextion, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5. The Saint, 601 Main St., Asbury Park. Tickets are $10. Call 732-775-9144 or visit www.thesaintnj.com.