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The Influence - JPop.com
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The Influence

The Influence

The Influence


Memories of exploding buildings, gunfire, and threats of violence followed Matthew Archer Stephenson long after his return from El Salvador to Virginia Beach. Growing up during the peak of the Salvadoran Civil War and its aftermath makes for an uniquely traumatic childhood, but it also provides context for the themes of fear, rage, love and longing found in the lyrics of one of the East Coast’s premier rock bands, The Influence. Will Clarke, the band’s lead guitar player Read more on Last.fm
Memories of exploding buildings, gunfire, and threats of violence followed Matthew Archer Stephenson long after his return from El Salvador to Virginia Beach. Growing up during the peak of the Salvadoran Civil War and its aftermath makes for an uniquely traumatic childhood, but it also provides context for the themes of fear, rage, love and longing found in the lyrics of one of the East Coast’s premier rock bands, The Influence. Will Clarke, the band’s lead guitar player, and John Zontini, the original rhythm guitar player, befriended Matt in high school (Matt returned from El Salvador in time for their senior year). Although Will (a classically trained violinist), John (a marine with a penchant for hard rock), and Matt shared a passion for music, they did not start performing together until after they graduated from college.

Years later, degrees in hand, Matt and Will found themselves back in Virginia Beach where they reunited with John and began playing at open mics around town under the name Plan B. The trio experienced some success on the local open mic circuit, and audience response to the unique combination of Will’s melodic instrumentation , John’s rhythmic and Matt’s tortured lyrics led them to start thinking about assembling a full band. They posted an ad for a drummer at the local pizza shop and were lucky to be contacted by a college student named Collin Cogan who had spent his formative years locked in a room learning Incubus and Tool songs. Needless to say they signed the boy wonder up the night of the audition. They soon learned he could also sing killer backup vocals.

Their search for a bass player ended when Chris Tully was introduced to them by a mutual friend. Tully had jazz training and spent the last few years playing with a slate of cover bands, jazz groups, and an all-original rock band in Richmond, VA. In honor of the new band, they changed their name from Plan B. to The Influence.

Now they were able to get serious about writing, rehearsing, and playing shows. Paying gigs in Virginia Beach led to show offers throughout the region, and soon they were hitting the road hard. The Influence released their self-titled debut album in 2006, garnering attention from critics and fans alike. Over the next few years, they built up their repertoire, played as many shows as they could get, and constantly promoted the band through the emerging ubiquity of alternative media.

While spending much of their time on the road, they still found time to write their followup album, 2008’s “Pig Radio.” Again, the band’s effort was met with positive critical reviews and an appreciative--and growing--fanbase. It was while touring on their Pig Radio album that they started bringing their friend and fellow musician Chris Kendrick along to play keys on certain shows. Chris was the guitarist for another Virginia Beach band named Counterfeit Molly, and when that band hit a hiatus, Chris joined The Influence as a full band member. He first focused on keys and backup vocals, but when John left The Influence to pursue other interests Chris took on rhythm guitar duties as well.

He also runs a local recording studio when he’s not too busy with The Influence (which isn’t very often). With nearly 200 self-booked tour dates played annually for the past four years, The Influence takes the DIY ethic to the next level. They have amassed a solid fanbase up and down the Eastern seaboard with their electric live show featuring explosive choruses, multi-layered harmonies, and tag-team drum interludes. To date The Influence has supported such artists as Paramore, Papa Roach, Shiny Toy Guns and Jimmy Eat World to name a few. They are currently touring for their third album, “Falling Objects,” released September 28th, 2010.

Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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