Just The Tip Keeps It Up

Student band speads its talent throughout New Paltz
Student band speads its talent throughout New Paltz

Just The Tip hasn’t had a hard time thrusting themselves into the New Paltz music scene.

The band members, fifth-year contemporary music studies major Damien Jackson (guitar), fourth-year jazz performance major Sam Smith (bass) and first-year biology major Jeremy Truitt (drums), have been working to expand their  musical catalog for nine months.

The band came together when Smith, who had a few classes with Jackson, asked him to play a Slash Root gig with him. They decided to start with just cover songs, then tried out drummers and eventually joined up with Truitt, Smith’s hometown friend.

“We just started to play a bunch of shows last semester,” Jackson said. “It just seemed to happen naturally. It wasn’t forced.”

Both Smith and Jackson started playing music when they were young. Smith learned the bass  through his friend Ray when he was 13. Jackson, once a self-proclaimed jock, became interested in music about 10 years ago when his friend showed him a Jimi Hendrix DVD.

Just The Tip has been steadily growing. After only playing a few shows, the band was immediately recognized for their covers, including renditions of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” and Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” Smith said the band was always working on originals but started performing them more frequently alongside the covers.

“When we started, it was like 60 percent of our repertoire was covers and 40 percent was originals, and now we’ve switched,” Jackson said. “We’re trying to ween off the covers as much as possible because we don’t want to be known as a cover band necessarily.”

Smith said the band doesn’t try to impose a certain sound onto their music.

“We want to create our own sound, but respect the music that we love . . . by not sounding exactly like it,” Smith said. “We all love rock, funk, hip-hop, jazz, but we want to try and combine them all in a way that still sounds like us without disrespecting the tradition.”

The band, which had once been strictly instrumental, is now attempting to incorporate vocals into their music.

“We had a rapper do a show with us a few weeks ago,” Jackson said. “We’ve been trying to kind of sprinkle in rappers and singers, and we’re trying to learn how to sing ourselves to make it easier.”

Last month, Just The Tip recorded their first demo at Oasis Café during a live show on Feb. 21. The band is currently working on mixing and mastering it.

“We should be done with it within a week at most,” Smith said. “It’s going to be called ‘The Tip Is In.’”

Jackson said he feels Just The Tip fits perfectly in the greater New Paltz music community because they incorporate so many different musical elements.

“We try to infuse it all, so whoever walks through the bar is going to like something about it,” Jackson said. “I feel like we represent New Paltz appropriately — all the different cultures, all the different people.”

The band plans to release their demo, play more gigs outside New Paltz and get into the “jam band festival circuit.”

“If anything, I just want to keep playing. I don’t care if anything comes from it,” Smith said. “I just like playing music with Jeremy and Damien.”

Smith said he hopes people have as much fun listening to them as the band has performing.

“If we can accomplish that,” Smith said, “we’re going to be a lot happier.”