By Miranda Warren-Zacharias
The local music scene in La Grande is small, but diverse. Bands range from metal to funk to pop. One local band, Sum People, is a bit different from the rest. They play a mixture of ska, funk, punk and reggae.
The band consists of five members, a conglomeration of former and current EOU students. Scott Nearing plays lead guitar and sings lead vocals. Jacob Jensen slaps the bass and provides harmony vocals. Kailey VanOcker and Matthew Deboodt provide the brass with trumpet and trombone, respectively, and Travis Moran lays down the backbeat on drums. VanOcker also provides harmony vocals, plays guitar and occasionally sits behind the drum kit. Deboodt plays keyboards as well.
The band started as friends coming together to jam, and from there they formed the band.
There is some debate as to how they came up with the name. Nearing claims it was his idea: “When people would ask me what project I was working on, I’d say, ‘I’m just playing with some people.’” Jensen also claims that he came up with the band name.
The band scrapped the first name they used because people found it difficult to pronounce. They eventually settled on the name Sum People and started playing shows around the La Grande area.
This past summer, Sum People traveled north to Seattle to play at Hempfest. The offer to play the event came about during a show Sum People played at Primos Pizza. Levi Lyon, a tour manager, heard the band and thought they would fit in well with the lineup at Hempfest.
“Hempfest marked a point in Sum People history,” Nearing said. “It was the first time we played our original songs. It was a cool experience to see the people’s reaction to our songs.”
Nearing is currently working in the studio with Grayson Dean and his band Whiskey Barrel Rocker. After WBR have completed their studio time, Sum People will be heading into the studio to record their album.
They are currently trying to book some shows in the Portland area with a little help from former KEOL station manager Rocky Gothard.
See them live locally at Jefferson Street Depot, 1118 Jefferson St. on Oct. 31 for a fun-filled night of costumes, fun and great live music. Find them on Facebook for upcoming show information.