“What our band loves to do more than anything is play live and engage with the audience, make the audience dance,” said John Collins, guitarist for the Bend band 2nd Hand Soldiers.
And if you want 2nd Hand Soldiers to make you dance, you’re in luck: The popular sextet has two local dates in the week ahead. On Saturday, they’ll play M&J Tavern, followed by a Wednesday slot at McMenamins Old St. Francis School (see “If you go”).
“I signed up for guitar when I heard that she wanted to start singing in a band,” Collins said, referring to his daughter and band mate, Darian Mahaney. At its 2007 inception, however, 2nd Hand Soldiers was known as Rhyme & Reasyn, but they later changed it to 2nd Hand Soldiers at Mahaney’s suggestion.
“I think she thought it was just kind of a cool, catchy hook line for a band. It is that, but to me, it kind of suggests that we do a lot of covers, which we do,” Collins said.
“So to me, I always thought it was a good name for a band that’s going to play a lot of covers, and just have fun with the audience, interacting with the audience, playing songs everyone already knows. So it tied in nicely with what we’re doing.”
The new name was precipitated by a shuffle in the band’s lineup. Today, along with Mahaney and Collins, the 2nd Hand Soldiers include bassist Mackenzie Hatfield, drummer Meshem Jackson, guitarist and keyboardist Jaren Brown (cousin to Mahaney) and percussionist Jarrod Donatelli.
Mahaney, 25, showed signs of becoming a singer — even a singer in a cover band — from toddlerhood, Collins said.
“Since almost before she could talk, she was remembering lyrics to songs,” he said. “She would sit in the backseat of the car with the radio on … and she would sing these songs note for note. She wouldn’t even know what she was singing about. She couldn’t even talk that well, but she knew the words and the songs. She had these songs memorized from an early age.”
Collins, 46, has been playing guitar off and on since he was in high school and considers himself lucky to be part of the band.
“It’s very rewarding to me, as far as being a father, because I kind of feel like if I’d done a bad job raising her, she would never give me the time to be in a band with her,” he said. “It feels really good. It’s a little bit of a pat on my back having the old guy around.”
It’d be easy, and not altogether wrong, to call 2nd Hand Soldiers a reggae band. But as anyone who’s seen the band live — among their recent shows was a well-attended slot at Bend Fall Festival — can attest, there’s more to 2nd Hand Soldiers than reggae covers.
“We’re a cover band that tries to put a unique twist on the covers that we play,” Collins explained. “We take a lot of covers and we kind of bend them and make them the way that we would like to play them.”
Reggae makes a solid platform for doing just that, he said.
“I think reggae’s a great spot to start; it’s a very empty canvas,” Collins said. “Speaking from an artist’s (point of view), you have lots of room to add all kinds of different stuff, whether it’s guitar or … percussion.”
For example, 2nd Hand Soldiers’ cover of “Come Together” by The Beatles.
“It’s a really fun song,” he said. “We threw our reggae twists on it, which is something we’d never heard done. We came up with that on our own. We thought that would be a cool song to throw (on) some reggae skanks.”
But it’s not all about laying down a mellow groove for 2nd Hand Soldiers. There’s also a growing rock component to the band’s live shows.
“We’re learning a lot more rock songs, and I think it’s because we’ve upped the caliber of the musicians in the band,” Collins said. “I think the rock’s a little harder to play.”
Collins said 2nd Hand Soldiers has recorded a single of an original song, “Peace of Mind,” and would like to record more.
Though “Peace of Mind” will primarily serve as a promotional tool, “most everybody in the band wants to come out with more singles and eventually have enough to put on an album together,” he said.
They wouldn’t mind touring in the future, either.
“I think everybody would love that to happen,” Collins said. “We still have a lot of work to do, and we’re probably a lot farther from that than we think we are, but … we’re going to keep moving forward and see what happens.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0349, email@example.com