By Maddie Ruth
If you have ever been anywhere near the Coffman suites while the Kansas Bible Company is practicing, you know that the group has a sound that is all their own.
Lead singer and guitarist Jake Miller (2010 alumnus) founded KBC in the fall of 2008. Other original members include 2010 alumnus Luke Yoder, senior Mike Ruth, senior Jake Snyder, junior Charlie Frederick, senior James Green, and 2010 alumnus Rafael Chavez. The band took a yearlong hiatus before coming back with a vengeance in fall of 2010. They added four new members: junior Jeff Yoder, first-year Jacob Martin, senior Isaac Lederach, and sophomore Nate Klink. They also adopted a more regular rehearsal schedule.
A typical KBC rehearsal takes place in Coffman 4, better known as Waffle House, and, according to Chavez, the bass player, rehearsals “are normally very short and hot.” The song-writing process is extremely collaborative and the music is dynamic, changing and improving with every run-through.
Miller said, “I’ll usually start with an idea or phrase and hash it out, expanding on it and developing it until I feel like I can take it no further. Then I take it to the band and it goes further. Other people also write and bring songs to the table. We like to call it the KBC filter.”
It is nearly impossible to describe the KBC “sound.” Even members of the band struggle to categorize themselves into a single genre. Instead, they pride themselves in what makes them unique. One aspect of their music that is sure to make heads turn is what the band likes to call their “western winds,” or the band’s horn section.
Jeff Yoder, who plays guitar in the band, said, “Horn lines are not something you often see in contemporary music, but we incorporate them to make something really original.”
Snyder, a saxophonist, further described the music when he said, “the sound we go for is late ’60s and ’70s rock and roll, Motown, and surf rock. We try to create a fun, party-like atmosphere.”
Miller offered his own explanation for what makes the group distinctive. He said, “We are a large group and exude metric tons of energy. Our arrangements are also unorthodox. We don’t write anything out; it’s all organic, all in our heads.”
In the past year, the KBC has played at a variety of venues, from Sauder Concert Hall and the Goshen Theater, to local homes around Goshen and high school dances.
They also put out their first album last month. Titled “Ad Astra Per Aspera”, which is the state motto of Kansas, the CD took five months to mix and produce. KBC released the CD to a crowd of enthusiastic fans at the Goshen Theater downtown.
After a year of enjoying a growing fan base in Goshen, the members of the KBC have decided to broaden their horizons and reach new audiences by moving to Nashville, living communally, and all the while, making music.
Though it may surprise some people that a group so large could decide collectively to take such a massive leap of courage, it just makes sense to the members of KBC. Jeff Yoder said that as the group became closer and learned about one another, they realized they have a common dream.
“Playing professionally is something we’ve all had on our minds since high school,” he said. Regarding the risk of the move, he said, “It would be more of a risk not to go.”
The band fondly acknowledged that it is because of the Goshen community that they have gained enough confidence in their music to pursue a career elsewhere. Their fans return the testament.
Lauren Slone, a first-year, said, “their music resonates with the way we are feeling about life. Like they say, ‘We’re a culture.’ That’s why KBC has built such a strong following here and I’m sure it will carry them as they move onto bigger and better things.”
So next time you are walking through campus and hear those western winds wafting from the Coffman windows, you might want to enjoy it while it’s free, because the men in Kansas Bible Company might just be the next big “young professionals.”