Local band wants to expand influence

Members aim for new venues in eastern Washington, plan to release original songs, collaborate with rapper



North Paw members and WSU music students discuss how they got together Wednesday afternoon at the Kimbrough Music Building.

VONNAI PHAIR, Evergreen reporter

Three inspired WSU music students formed local band North Paw a few months ago.

The band now includes Joel Roeber, Alex Welch, Joe Ballestrasse, James Carter and Michael Adams. Welch, the drummer and a vocalist in the band, said the sport of boxing and his dog, Poseidon, were the inspirations behind the name North Paw.

The band features traditional instruments, such as guitar and drums, and more jazz-inclined instruments, like a saxophone. Band members describe their unique ensemble as one of many genres, noting specifically rhythm and blues, funk and alternative rock.

“I thought it was funny that we were even called a disco band,” Welch said.

Some members within the band also have backgrounds in heavy metal, adding to the melting pot of musical influences for North Paw to draw creativity from.

The band primarily focuses on arranging covers and performs these songs at their gigs. They also showcase their music online with YouTube videos, but they plan to record and release original songs during the upcoming fall semester, Welch said.

Roeber, the guitarist and another vocalist in the band, said songwriting is not an easy process. There are struggles in all stages, from forming ideas to solidifying them in sound.

“Finding the structure behind music is almost more important than even the melodies or the catchy hooks that people remember,” Roeber said.

This young band struggles to balance the members’ schedules, and although each member is often busy with many musical obligations, they find time for a gig or two a month and practice multiple times a week. They headlined KZUU’s first house show this month.

The band is excited to see where the future will take them. The members want to continue developing North Paw even after college.

“It’s fun right now, but we’re trying to push it more to make more money and see what we can do with it while we’re all here,” Welch said.

For now, North Paw wants to focus on expanding beyond Pullman and want to perform in the Tri-Cities, Spokane and other local cities in Eastern Washington.

Expansion requires tedious planning and finances to organize and set up a gig, as well as a lot of marketing in order to get people interested. All of the elements required for a band to grow outside of a local area pushed the band to focus on expanding during the summertime, members said.

North Paw works closely with another local band, Nuu Wave. Roeber, Carter and Ballestrasse are all members of Nuu Wave as well.

“We’ve talked about forming a ‘Nuu Paw’ collective with two drummers and our added pianist, a kind of big fun jam bang with original rap elements and some dance elements all mixing in,” Welch said.

Look out for original music from North Paw in the fall.