Young men (and woman) in 2-15 maintain faith and have fun while playing rock ‘n’ roll
By Steve Wildsmith (email@example.com)
When 2009 Maryville High School graduates Adam Morrell and Jaron Taylor decided to take the old version of 2-15 and merge it with the fledgling project of fellow MHS students Jared Garner and Tanner Millican, the first order of business was deciding on a band name.
Back then, Morrell was adamant about one thing — if one had to stay and another had to go, 2-15 (taken from Morrell’s street address, where the band practiced, as well as a Bible verse from Philippians)
was the name to stick with.
Because nobody wanted to deal with the mispronunciation and misunderstanding of a band that called itself The B-Listers.
As in, “bee” listers. Not “blisters,” which is what it sounded like when the band was introduced one of the only times it performed live, at a Maryville High School talent show.
“I joined on the condition that the B-Listers not be the name,” Morrell joked.
That was several years ago, before the current lineup gelled with the final addition of keyboard player and backup singer Jamie Trimmer. These days, all five members of 2-15 are done with their high school careers and are busy with higher education and jobs ... and as much rock ‘n’ roll as they can possibly play.
To be fair, 2-15’s brand of that familiar outlet of youthful angst and disillusion is decidedly sunnier than the darker death metal sounds played by so many Blount County bands. Technically, it can be classified as “pop-punk” — catchy, melody-driven, high-energy and driven by the enthusiasm of a group of musicians who want to let it all out on stage, leading anthemic charges through a crowd of like-minded young people who hang on every word and guitar hook.
“We never though about playing for money or taking the scene by storm,” said Garner, a guitarist and a 2011 graduate of MHS. “Playing music is fun, and it has been for us since we started.”
That was roughly four years ago, when the four guys started going over to Adam Morrell’s house to rehearse, spending hours learning old songs by classic rock bands Boston and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Taylor, who had played drums in The B-Listers, was pressed into service as the band’s singer, Millican (who graduated in 2010) started playing bass and 2-15 started looking around for a gig.
“Our first show was in the parking lot of ORNL Federal Credit Union next to the Wal-Mart in Alcoa,” said Millican, who added that his mother was the branch manager at the time.
“That was the first time we’d played instruments together outside of the basement, and it started a whole new world of music for me,” Morrell said.
The show wasn’t mind-blowing — emerging from the basement was a little jarring so timing issues and an underwhelming PA that made Taylor sound as if he were singing underwater made sure that first show won’t go down as the band’s best. But it was a start, and it showcased some potential.
In early 2011, 2-15 went into the studio to record an EP at The Sound Lair. Trimmer (who also graduated MHS in 2010) got to know the boys through mutual friends and being a musician who played keyboards in praise and worship services at her church, she wanted to see the recording process — so she bribed her way in with food. It didn’t take long for the guys to recruit her into the fold.
“We were looking for a female vocalist to take some of the stress off of Jaron so he could play more complicated guitar parts,” Morrell said. “Plus, once we got a girl in the band, we started getting more gigs.”
It also helped that 2-15 is one of the few non-metal bands coming out of Blount County. They wear the Christian tag with pride, and they spent last summer working as the “house band” for Big Creek Missions in Kentucky, leading morning and evening services as a praise-and-worship band for 60 days out of 70. But, they caution, their music isn’t just for Christians — they’ve also played at the Longbranch Saloon on the Cumberland Avenue “Strip” in Knoxville, a long-time bar and live music venue.
“We’re not trying to get into the Christian music scene,” Morrell added. “We’re just Christians in a music scene.”
In other words, their faith binds them together — but rock ‘n’ roll makes it a whole lot of fun. And it helps keep them grounded as well, making them realize that the successes they enjoy are blessings they’ve earned.
“Even before I was in the band, these guys worked really hard to get their music out there,” Trimmer said. “Nothing about what we do is fake, and nothing’s happened because we’ve been lazy. Anything we’ve done, we’ve worked hard for.”