Duson takes center stage with pop-punk band

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Senior Will Duson plays the electric guitar. Duson and the other members of 3rd Denial have performed at venues like House of Blues and Numbers Night Club. (Courtesy Photo)

With an EP on iTunes, a possible tour planned for this summer and concerts at the House of Blues, 3rd Denial is establishing a name in the Houston music scene.

The band includes senior Will Duson along with vocalist Brylan Crivellari, guitarist Koy Kresta, bassist Nick Jasek and drummer Sam Sobell. They have been promoting their first EP, “I’m Still Here,” at venues like Fitzgerald’s, Numbers, Jet Lounge, Warehouse Live and House of Blues. They are currently working on their first full album.

“We have 15 or 16 originals right now that we’re trying to cut down to about 10,” Duson said. “We want to release a full-length album before this summer, before we go off to college.”

With the help of Paul Beebe (‘96), a professional musician with his own recording studio, Beebe Gunn Studio, 3rd Denial recorded “I’m Still Here” two summers ago. They had it mastered (transferred to a data storage device) and published their work on iTunes.

“I’m Still Here” consists of five songs. Duson created the score for all the tracks, which are inspired by the pop punk and alternative rock music of bands like Mayday Parade, Go Radio, All Time Low and Blink-182.

Of the band’s songs, Duson’s favorite is “Anywhere but Home,” the score for which was written by Duson with lyrics by Sobell.

“It’s my favorite because it’s upbeat, catchy and driving,” Duson said. “I really like how the whole song turned out.”

Besides Duson, Sobell attends Strake Jesuit and the other members of 3rd Denial attend El Campo High School. The distance between schools is problematic when the band is scheduling rehearsals.

“El Campo is about an hour and fifteen minutes south of here, so I only get to see the other members of the group every other weekend,” Duson said. “Considering we all live far away, we make use of the time we have and try to make the best of it.”

The band rehearses on weekends, usually in El Campo, but sometimes at a studio in Sugarland. They spend the first half of practice rehearsing their current songs. They use the rest of the time to brainstorm lyrics and melodies for new songs. After practice, they often record demos at Kresta’s house.

“I’ve realized that we really do work the best when we all cling together,” Duson said. “That’s the way we’ve written our best songs, when everyone pitches in ideas.”

Since band members frequently disagree about the placements of choruses, bridges and patterns, communication is an integral part of the composition process. Distance has limited 3rd Denial’s communication, so the band has been forced to utilize new techniques in song writing.

“I’ll think of something in my room one night and record it on a voice memo and send it in the band group text to see what they think of it,” Duson said. “Our singer will record lyrics, sing it and send it to everybody. We’ve actually written songs over text message and Skype before.”

The band wrote “I Said I’d Make Things Right, Not Perfect,” the last song on their EP, via text message.

“It was very effective,” Duson said. “For the little outro at the end of the song, I ended up calling Brylan to figure it out. It all came out great.”

3rd Denial began as a Christian band. Its name is a reference to Peter’s three denials of Jesus. Before shows, the band usually huddles around the drum set to say a prayer. Over time, though, the band’s lyrics have moved away from Christian themes toward more earthly topics.

“It’s cliche, but it’s easiest to write about everyday situations: breakups, relationships, and say ‘yeah, it goes on,’” Duson said. “The purpose of a song is more to just generate a reaction or bring out a feeling in somebody, to make them feel a certain way.”

So far, the responses to the band’s new creations have been positive.

“3rd Denial has really developed as a band,” senior Kasey French said. “Their newer songs are really breaking boundaries, and their gigs are filling up faster. I can’t wait to see what they do with their new album.”

While his lyrics may describe average high school experiences, Duson’s life is anything but ordinary. Since House of Blues and other venues are usually booked on Friday and Saturday nights, Duson often finds himself performing on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday evenings.

“People will sometimes have school the next day,” Duson said. “If we’re lucky, we’ll have the Monday off after playing on a Sunday. On most nights, I’ll find myself staying up late to tear down equipment and waking up early for school. I tend to book all the shows, and I didn’t book anything during first semester because I was so bogged down with college apps.”

Besides concerts, 3rd Denial performs showcases at venues like Fitzgerald’s and Warehouse Live. Because showcases usually attract only 20 to 30 people, 3rd Denial usually performs with other local bands in order to pool fanbases.

“We’ve met some random people who happen to be at the venues who have become fans, so that’s cool,” Duson said.

Duson’s friends often attend his concerts to watch their fellow senior perform.

“Will has been my classmate for as long as I can remember, and watching him jam out on stage was really amazing,” senior Zack Lee said. “It reminds me that everyone at SJS has special talents that go beyond academics.”

Duson cites the positive feedback from audience members as the reason he enjoys performing.

“It’s so much fun and really thrilling to play for crowds of people,” Duson said. “Just talking to the crowd after the shows and meeting new people makes it all worth it.  Same goes for whenever new listeners tweet at us or message us about our music. It’s such a great feeling knowing that people are listening.”

Check out their EP, “I’m Still Here,” on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/im-still-here-ep/id578281770

Cara Maines
Assistant Online Editor

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