Source: Sherman Publications

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Third Rock mixes classic, current rock hits

by Trevor Keiser

August 17, 2011

Drew Biggs, lead vocalist, sings another classic hit.
Third Rock's Tommy Hickey on the drums. Photo by Trevor Keiser.
Keith Auchterlonie on the keyboard.
The Depot Park crowd listens to Third Rock.

Clarkston News Staff Writer

When Sam Mead was in the fourth grade he and another buddy decided it would be cool to start a band.

"It was just me (on guitar) and him on drums," Mead said. "Then we added the singer (Drew Biggs), bassist (Mitch Biggs) and keyboard (Keith Auchterlonie). That was the band."

After writing a list of possible band names and taking a vote, the name Third Rock was determined to be the official name.

"Third Rock had a classic rock feel to it," said Drew. "It basically means Earth, third planet from the sun."

A year after the band formed, Mead said the drummer was getting uneasy, so they pushed him out and asked Tommy Hickey to take over as drummer.

"I started out subbing for the old drummer when the drummer was out of town," Hickey said. "He was doing some sort of band camp for school, so I was subbing for a couple of gigs they were playing because I already knew Sam through boy scouts. Then they said 'he's out, do you want to be in?' I said 'yeah.'"

Drew said when the other drummer left they had to make a decision to quit the band and not do anything or keep the band going.

"I would have regretted if I had to sell the band because this is so awesome," he said. "We wouldn't be anywhere we were if we didn't have Tommy and we would have quit the band."

Shortly after bringing Hickey on board, the band asked Aaron Roberts to join as a second guitarist.

"I played with the bassist Mitch at church for the church band," Roberts said. "He knew me, so they invited me into the band to play for a gig and I was happy."

The band, who's core group has been together for two and half years, plays a mix of classic and contemporary rock as well as some originals.

Drew said he grew up listening to ELO and Jimmy Buffet as his big music influences.

"My dad had an iPod that was full of the old classic bands," he said. "I used to search everything and I just got into this mood of listening to old music."

He said it freaks him out when people don't know who Steve Miller is.

"So many people don't know classic rock bands," Drew said. "To be in a classic rock band and play that kind of music, you have to really know who they are to appreciate them."

Hickey agreed.

"It's the time you're at school and you meet up with the kid who's all into the new bands like Lady Gaga, Ke$ha and 50 Cent. Then you ask if they've heard of the Beatles and they say, 'aren't they that one weird band from like the 60's,'" he said. "It saddens me."

Mitch said he had one of those "awe moments" when he mentioned it was the 30th year anniversary of John Lennon's death and the person didn't know who John Lennon was.

He also noted he likes where the band is going.

"I like playing the old stuff because it reaches to the people that listen to that kind of music and then when you play the new stuff it gets to other people," Mitch said. "I hope we keep it up with the classic/modern kind of thing."

Roberts' favorite song to play is "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World. Mead likes "The Pretender" by Foo Fighters and "Taking Care of Business" by Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Drew, Mitch, Auchterlonie, and Hickey all enjoy "All These Things that I've Done" by The Killers, "Everlong" by Foo Fighters, and "Fake Plastic Trees" by Radiohead.

All of the members of the band can play more than one instrument, including string instruments like violin and cello, traditional band instruments like trombone and percussion, plus the required rock-n-roll guitars, keys, bass, and drums.

The band is hoping to record a CD in the fall, but they have a busy schedule. Their next gig is at Septemberfest in Brandon Township on Sept. 24 and Taste of Clarkston on Sept. 25. Some band mambers also participate in fall sports.

"It's just cool to think 'what else would we be doing if we weren't in a band?' When we get so many opportunities that we really never would have before," Drew said. "Just meeting other bands is really cool because we can relate to what they do."