Band’s sound matures along with members

Matt
Matt Gardner
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As they rehearse a new setlist featuring more original material, local rock band Cheap Luxury is preparing to show a different face to the public.

Local band Cheap Luxury will be performing at the St. Mary High School Lecture Theatre on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. From left: bassist/lead vocalist Joel Rohs, drummer Tanner Lajeunesse, and guitarist James Scarrow.

“Before they asked, ‘What covers are you guys going to play?’” 15-year-old bassist and lead vocalist Joel Rohs said. “Now, it’s like doing our own thing, which is kind of getting some independence.”

The young members of Cheap Luxury won accolades over the past year and a half for their covers of classic rock tunes by acts such as AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. But their upcoming show promises to showcase the group’s own unique identity.

The band will be performing at the St. Mary High School Lecture Theatre on Wednesday, Oct. 10. Cheap Luxury have organized the show themselves, publicizing the event through social media, posters and word of mouth.

“We’ve kind of got big shoes to fill from the last show, because after we sold out the library (in April), it was kind of like, we’ve got to do something,” Rohs said. “We don’t want to go down.”

For its earlier shows, the band members — comprising Rohs, guitarist James Scarrow and drummer Tanner Lajeunesse — wore $10 suit jackets from Value Village, which served as both a metaphor for their name and a tribute to AC/DC guitarist Angus Young.

Their eventual decision to discard the jackets wasn’t merely the result of how stiflingly hot they became under the stage lights.

“Even as being those 15-year-olds and AC/DC songs and jacket outfits, I … think that we kind of outgrew that,” Rohs said.

“Soundwise we did, too,” Lajeunesse, 16, added. “We’ve got our own thing going on, so now it doesn’t match as much as it did.”

We have enough originals so it takes up a decent part of our show. James Scarrow

The group’s songwriting method does not follow any strict pattern. Sometimes Scarrow, 16, will think of a riff and his bandmates will pool their ideas together for lyrics. For a while, group members would present the others with a pre-written song.

Lately, the process has become more collaborative.

“For the past couple months, it’s almost been more like … all of us writing the same thing, sitting down with some pen and paper and just going at her,” Rohs said. “Usually, it’s like the guitar and the bass and everything first, and then lyrics.”

The members of Cheap Luxury believe their lyrics, largely written by Rohs, have become more focused over time, with greater use of metaphors and other literary devices. One recent song includes the line, “I had to cut a hole in the roof of my mouth to get to my brain to let my thoughts all out.”

Cover songs won’t be missing entirely at the October show. The band plans to include renditions of tunes by the Tragically Hip, Hot Hot Heat and Led Zeppelin along with their own work.

“We have enough originals so it takes up a decent part of our show,” Scarrow said.

Admission is $5 and tickets may be purchased in advance or at the event. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and Cheap Luxury is set to take the stage at 7 p.m.

Organizations: AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Mary High School Lecture Theatre Tragically Hip

Geographic location: Value Village

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