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/// LOCAL MUSIC


by Kevin VanAntwerpen | kevin@revuewm.com


ConvoTronics:


The industry of electronic conversation


H In the Studio: The Legal Immigrants


was when a series of networking victories led exposure with a drastically higher profile. “It’s all networking,” Joe


T


Sommerdyke (lead guitar) said. “We just kept meeting people and getting bigger and better shows.” It started in the first few


HOUGH THE GRAND RAPIDS clas- sic rock/blues/reggae fusion group The Legal Immigrants has been in existence for almost two years now, the band was a well-kept secret – until now.That


during Muskegon Summer Celebration, allowing the chance to play alongside Sugar Ray and Night Ranger. “Until then, we were just playing low-key local


months of 2011, around the time the band entered the studio with Papa Vegas Frontman Joel Fergusson. At the same time, the band landed an opening slot for the band Rusted Root at The Orbit Room. A series of connec- tions made at that show led to appearances on Wood TV 8’s “eightWest” and on Fox17 News. By summer, The Legal Immigrants went on to win a battle of the bands at Club Envy in Muskegon


“We’ve always had the same network of fans — friends and friends of friends. Now we have people who are coming out because they heard us by word of mouth.”—JOE SOMMERDYKE


shows at small bars that weren’t actually designed for concerts,” Sommerdyke said. “We’ve always had the same net- work of fans – friends and friends of friends. Now we have people who are coming out because they heard us by word of mouth.” With the blessing of a


pre-existing fan base, the band is wrapping up its debut full- length album with the goal of a September release. According to Sommerdyke, the timing couldn’t be better. “We’re ten times better


than we were two years ago,” Sommerdyke said. “You write these songs and they change over


time. It’s like writing an English paper. You might start with a rough draft, and then you fine tune it until it’s ready to submit.” n


IP-HOP FANS, IT’S time to tattoo the name ConvoTronics to the inside of your eyelids. “We’re definitely representing the essence of


hip-hop,” ConvoTronics member Julius Hayes said. “When it first came around, people just did


it to party and for love … when we get onstage, we’re not talking about degrading women. We’re not talking about how much money we’ve got, because we’re broke … the focus is super-duper creativity. We never try to mimic anybody.” Earl ier this year,


ConvoTronics appeared on both the Detroit and Long Island stops of the Vans Warped Tour. They performed on the brand new “Bring It Back” stage – an experimental new platform for rap and hip-hop artists to showcase their music, which Hayes described as “euphoric.” “This entire year for


ConvoTronics, we’ve been making history,” Hayes said. “We whole-heartedly support what they’re doing with Bring It Back. If you look on the website, I’m a member. It’s a great cause with a positive energy that’s bringing back all the elements of hip-hop. Everybody thinks hip-hop is just about graffiti and break- dancing, but it’s so much more than that.” In addition to supporting the Bring It Back Movement,


the members of ConvoTronics have also been attempting to jumpstart the engine of hip-hope here in West Michigan. They’ve already seen rapid fan growth thanks to primarily performing free shows and giving away as many albums as possible. In fact, sitting outside of Billy’s Lounge in Eastown before a show, Hayes could barely go a few moments without a fan approaching to greet him. “This is why we do it for free,” Hayes said. “I’d love


to get paid for this, but I’d rather have a million people at shows enjoying our music. You don’t sit in your bedroom and write a hit song for the money. You do it for the love.” The band’s double disc album, ConvoTronics: Industries


will be available via iTunes in the future, but is currently only available “oldschool style” at shows or from the members themselves. n


66 | REVUEWM.COM | SEPTEMBER 2011


SCHEDULE | DINING | SIGHTS | SOUNDS | SCENE


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