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Big Brother

Pax 217's Winning Combination of Diversity and Energy
By Andy Argyrakis
Photographs by Clarke Woodfin

Pax 217 combines hard hitting alternative rock, reggae, and hip-hop, giving them a fiery sound somewhere between The Beastie Boys and Limp Bizkit.  The group hails from Orange Country, California and is the latest in the wave of trendy bands in the industry that have a shot to last for a long time to come.  The band is currently touring the nation in support of their Forefront records self-titled debut, which was produced by Howard Benson of P.O.D. and Zebrahead fame and engineered by Bobby Brooks, who has worked with a slew of artists, from Motorhead to Michael Jackson.  Those dates are apart of the Extreme Days Tour, which also includes Beanbag, KJ-52 and MG! The Visionary.  The tour is unique in the fact that it combines the extreme alternative and hip-hop styles of each group with the element of extreme sports.  Venues on the tour are skate parks and colleges that have access to set up a park of that style, and each date is accompanied by professional skaters that perform tricks before the music starts. 

"It's been kind of cool to see how the Lord works in skate parks," said bass player Josh Auer at EDAN Productions' Chicago date of the tour.  "It's rad to see that we can play in skate parks and colleges and not just in churches.  We have a lot of believers and non-believers coming out.  The venues are neutral places for both groups, both for those that would feel uncomfortable about stepping into a bar and those that would feel uncomfortable about stepping into a church." The band is obviously very excited about the tour, as well as the release of the album on Forefront.  "We're really excited to play our songs on stage," Auer said.  "We've been touring this record since February and even though we have done a lot of work on the tour, it's also good to have a label to support us."

Pax 217 still remembers the more difficult days in their career just a few years back when they had to juggle finishing up high school while playing any gigs they could get their hands on.  "We used to play all over Southern California on the sunset strip," Auer added.  "We would do up to four shows a weekend if we could.  We couldn't play during the week because we were still in school."

However, the group got by just fine with their weekend gigs and built up a huge local fan base.  "We wanted to and still want to play for anyone and anywhere, as long as the people there like us," he said.  "We have very real songs about real situations that kids can relate to."

Auer also credits the bands rise in the industry to their diverse sound.  "I'd say we're a mix between some old groups like U2 or The Police and some new acts like Incubus," he added.  "It's hard to say exactly who we sound like because we have all been influenced by different artists and we all listen to a lot of different stuff.  Right now, I'm really into the new Switchfoot album, but I also listen to a lot of hip hop like Arrested Development."

Whatever the reason for their rapid fan base growth, there's no question that the band deserves it.  They're logging in their hours on the road and showing that they want to play out as much as possible to draw even more people in.  Diversity is truly the key in this early part of Pax 217's success story, but only time will tell if the guys can stick around for the long run in the ever-evolving music scene. 

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