by Dawn Duncan
Bands today realize that there’s more to making it big than just being talented or having an appealing visual image. The competition is fierce, with thousands of artists vying for attention and technology offering the infinite platform to distribute music to the masses through social media, videos, and messaging. One band that has clearly understood the need for commitment and hard work from day one is Shatterproof, the Fort Collins-based, five-piece violin rock/alternative band that started in 2012 and quickly became a recognized figure in the Northern Colorado music scene.
Comprised of members Branson Hoog (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), TJ Wessel (violin, keys), Benji Spoliansky (drums), Josh Schoenig (bass, screams), and Jeremy Marmor (guitar, backup vocals), Shatterproof began as a project of five high school guys from two schools locally and evolved into a band that earned its stripes hard and fast, most notably with their acceptance into SpokesBUZZ, which Marmor noted, “made us a legit band at a young age.” The band members are quick to credit SpokesBUZZ for their success thus far, seeing the non-profit music incubator organization as a nurturing and beneficial resource for emerging talent. Now alumni of the program, Marmor commented, “Once a SpokesBUZZ band, always a SpokesBUZZ band. We are a family and we continue to tap their team when we need help with navigating the industry.”
It seems Shatterproof is that band that knows when to reach out for help, but also is knowledgeable, perhaps intrinsically, of when to burrow down within its own confines, delegating the workload man by man, assigning tasks to each member and then holding each other accountable. This idea is one lost on many bands that suffer from having one or two members who do the majority of the busy work it takes to manage, market, book, and support a band, which inevitably leads to some dissention in the ranks eventually.
Branson Hoog, lead vocalist and the primary lyricist and melody writer for Shatterproof, commented that the name of the band is one that the members originally just thought was a decent moniker, but it has morphed into much more than that. “We recognized three years ago that we have a demographic that is young, predominantly female in this scene. Many of our fans are struggling to find self-worth and where they exactly fit in the big picture. We have found our name instills a certain confidence. You can be “shatterproof,” no matter what life throws at you. The idea that we are unbreakable is one that fuels our band and it should be in everything that we do.” He added, “We want our fans to know that they are valuable and that they matter.”
Currently, the five members lead different daytime lives, with Wessel attending CU and Marmor at Front Range Community College. Both will graduate in May, Wessel with a Bachelor’s and Marmor with an Associate’s degree. Hoog attends online courses through Southern New Hampshire University, while Schoenig and Spoliansky hold down day jobs. All of this said, this tightly-knit crew has found ways to tour nationally, play SXSW in Austin, TX as part of the Colorado Music Party, and keep up a steady and often intense schedule of regional shows. They have been part of the VANS Warped Tour the past two years and have opened for national acts, including Switchfoot, Against the Current, and alongside festival acts Yellowcard, Pierce the Veil, Memphis May Fire, and many others. Next up, they’re releasing a new EP of three songs, which they recorded at The Blasting Room with Chris Beeble as their engineer. The collection, the band’s third release, entitled Paper House, features the singles “Cookie Cutter Life” and “Karma,” both of which have Hudson Bloom-directed music videos that have been released this year to critical acclaim and thousands of views on YouTube. Additionally, the videos have had a plethora of shares across social media. The song “Lykos,” completes the EP and, as the band stated, “brings us around to the center of exactly what we want. We’ve moved back and forth from soft to heavy sounds and now we’re there in that perfect middle ground. There are no rules in Shatterproof and we allow our music to unfold.”
Although this band is starting to hit the radar of numerous industry pros outside of Colorado, they are quick to note that their fans are still the most important thing to their continued success. They filled the Downtown Artery with fans as extras in the “Karma” video and have a policy of rapid response directly to fans on social media. They personally reply to messages as fast as they can and enjoy this intimate interaction with the people who consistently help them fill their shows and advance their mission. In this DIY era of music, Shatterproof is a testament to the power of the people, the ability of bands to self-manage and grow organically. “Our music is unique and the message we’re promoting is authentic to who we really are,” Hoog remarked. “We take risks and try new things. Our goal is to give you something that makes you say, ‘I’ve never heard a band like Shatterproof.’”
These guys are out to make their mark and 2016 may just be the year that they show the world how truly iron-clad they are in brotherhood, musicality, and energy. Their EP may hold the name of Paper House, showing that delicate juxtaposition between structure and finite fragility, but this is an act that as bands go, truly shows the signs of weathering the storm and doing it eloquently and beautifully.
Follow the band at: Twitter: @shatterproof_fc; Instagram: @shatterproofofficial; Facebook: facebook.com/weareshatterproof; YouTube: Shatterproof.
Catch Shatterproof’s EP release show at the Downtown Artery January 22, along with special guests Racing On The Sun, Slow Caves, and Wiredogs. Tickets: downtownartery.com