Band unique in method, sound
The Sun - October 21, 1999
|If you have never seen anyone play two guitars simultaneously or play the Chapman Stick, an instrument resembling the neck of the guitar, then you haven't seen Agent 22 perform it's unique blend of funk, rock, pop, and jazz.
The opportunity has arrived. Agent 22 will bring its distinctive sound of music to room 204 at MiraCosta College's San Elijo Campus at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6.
"(Agent 22) sounds like a whole group of guitar players, but there's only two guys (on strings)," said Peter Pupping, owner of GuitarSounds record label in Encinitas. "Their music is indescribable."
Playing together since December 1997, Agent 22 met for the first time while working on a compilation CD for the MiraCosta Music Department's annual project.
"At that same time I was toying with the idea of starting my own record label and band," said Stick player and Encinitas resident Tom Griesgraber.
Agent 22 was created that year with dual guitarist Jimmy Patton of Vista and drummer/percussionist Ryan Moran of Pacific Beach. The three began writing and arranging original material and performing locally.
Patton said the music the band plays is hard to describe or categorize.
"We play soft to funky to jazz," he said. "It's a little bit of everything."
Griesgraber refers to Agent 22 as a weird group because they "have no real role models to go by."
"This is the first time you have a Stick with a guy that plays two guitars," he said.
Griesgraber had been playing the guitar for eight years when he first saw someone play the Stick in 1997. He was confused and intrigued by the unique instrument and so began to teach himself how to play.
"There is really no one to take lessons from," Griesgraber said.
He added that there are about seven Stick owners in all of San Diego county, that possibly includes Orange and Riverside counties.
Stick inventor Emmett Chapman describes the dual Stick sound as "bass on one side and a guitar on the other side."
He refers to his method of playing as "tapping," which involves hitting down on the strings, rather than strumming. This allows for the instrument to be played with both hands, independently, creating a more keyboard-like sound.
Agent 22's new self-titled CD is a journey into the versatile sound of the band. Selections range from mellow melodies to futuristic funk to jazzy jive.
The CD is instrumental because "there are way too many notes to add vocals," Griesgraber said.
In his liner notes to the new CD, Pupping writes, "Quality sound, upbeat, sensitive, clever, unique, and a great album."
He admitted that he keeps the CD at home so he can readily listen to it.
Chapman agreed, saying he loves the CD as well.
"It is excellent," he said. "It's like a small transparent trio where you can kind of see through the music to each musician."
Patton said he began playing two guitars because he was trying to create a different sound.
"I wanted to imitate the sound of a piano," he said. "Where you can play the accompaniment and melody at the same time."
In order to play two guitars at the same time, Patton mounts one guitar onto a keyboard stand, while the other is strapped around his neck.
He has been studying the guitar since he was a teen-ager. At 19, he began playing two guitars for tips in local coffee shops. In addition to his work with Agent 22, he performs solo throught San Diego County.
Moran began playing the drums at age 12. He performs regularly with the San Diego State University jazz combos and big bands.
Moran will not be playing at the Nov. 6 concert as he is currently touring with his other band, the B-Side Players, a funk and Latin band from San Diego.
Joining Agent 22 for the concert will be Isaiah Ceccarelli from Long Beach. Griesgraber met Ceccarelli at a music camp a number of years ago.