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ND faithful return to South Bend for concert

Chris McGrady and Ken Fowler | Friday, September 21, 2007

Bryan Bond

What do Clark Kent, Peter Parker and Bryan Bond have in common? Besides a strong case of moniker alliteration, they all masquerade as a normal working stiff during the day, only to have a much livelier (and, frankly, much cooler) night job.

Bond, the lesser known of our crusaders, is an account manager by day and a rock musician by night. But Bond is quick to note, that rock music can be loosely defined.

“You say rock, and some people think System of a Down,” Bond said in an interview Wednesday. “That makes me cringe. I’d say my music sounds like a Texan doing Brit-rock.”

However you define rock and roll, Bond is worth a listen. He is reminiscent of bands like Travis, The Verve and U2 – this rocker’s sound is refined, but edgy. In his track “Mutually Exclusive,” it’s almost impossible to not be reminded of Oasis, with the same alt-rock sound and lyrics. Bonds approach to writing music has served him well.

“It’s really interesting how this whole inspiration things works,” Bond said, “It’s always important not to force a song. It will come when it’s ready. If I don’t feel the emotion, what’s the point?”

This “wait-and-see” approach has worked wonders for his music. Unlike so many bands in today’s pop-scene, Bond’s music sounds inspired, transcending the power chord progressions wreaking havoc in modern rock. But this talent can’t be attributed solely to luck – Bond has spent years getting it right, and music has long been a part of his life.

He started out writing songs before he had even picked up an instrument.

“My mom actually caught me watching the symphony when I was three or four years old,” Bond said. “She went to the change the channel, and I started crying.”

Not a typical response from most toddlers. Then again, Bond is anything but typical.

His first guitar came as a gift from his uncle at the age of seven, and immediately Bond was in love.

“He probably just gave it to me to shut me up,” Bond recalls. “That’s all I would ever talk about as a kid, how I needed a guitar so I could play all of the songs I had rolling around in my head.”

He played his first club-gig at age fourteen, and has never looked back.

Now as an adult, Bond keeps his skills sharp with a show at least every few weeks, while trying to balance the rest of his interests. One of these interests? Notre Dame.

“I never really paid much attention to Notre Dame until I met two of my best friends in college,” Bond said. “They were both die-hard Notre Dame fans. I started following the team a little and eventually made my first trip to campus. I was in awe. I just totally identified with everything about the school. The way they treated their athletes, their standards, their mission, everything.”

But beyond this passion for the university, Bond’s love for music is paramount. He puts his whole heart and soul into his sound, and for good reason. “I don’t understand the power of music, but I’m in awe of it, and I’m constantly humbled by it,” Bond said, “Joy, pain, remorse, sorrow – music transcends them all. Maybe I’m being a little dramatic … but at any rate, it blows my mind.”

Dramatic? Perhaps. But mostly, it’s the truth, and a musician with Bond’s dedication and scope is a breath of fresh air in today’s relatively stale and commercialized pop-music scene. As Bond said, “Truly inspired music sounds inspired.” Yes, yes it does.

The Surreal McCoys

Bond will open for the Surreal McCoys, a high-octane combination of The Clash-meets-Johnny Cash.

“It’s kind of the twang of country music with the thrash and intensity of punk rock,” said Shawn Ryan, one of the McCoys. “And it’s a whole lot of fun to play.”

The combination is evident in “The Velvet Rope of Your Heart,” one of the McCoys’ original tunes: “Can’t substitute love for addiction / Can’t feed you truth when you’re starving for fiction / That’s just not part of my program anymore.”

The McCoys debuted three new original songs Thursday night in a show in Michigan and will have a slew of new covers in their repertoire for the gig at Simeri’s tonight. Still, they’re all about the audience involvement. Ryan said he encourages full participation, even a little stage-hogging from the women in attendance.

It was back in 1991, while Ryan was a Notre Dame Law School student, that the band first coalesced. The group includes five NDLS alumni – among them, three double domers.

In 1992, after Ryan’s graduation, the band split up. A decade later, with members living near each other again, they revived the group and even made an appearance on National Public Radio in December 2005.

They attracted a following on the message boards of NDNation.com, where Ryan posts, and where he first listened to Bond’s demo tape before asking the musician to open tonight.