See to Center’s band name was almost Starborn Sunrise.
“We even made a logo for it and everything,” John Wiberg, the percussionist, said.
Eventually they found something that worked a bit better.
“We spent a really long time trying to come up with the name,” said Chris Carter, the band’s vocalist and guitarist. “’See to Center’ means seeing things through to what they actually are.”
What’s in a name, anyway? The answer is “a lot” for this independent Fort Collins rock group, who will be performing Friday at Equinox Brewing on 133 Remington St. from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Carter and Wiberg are roommates, and all the instruments have names, located in the soundproofed basement studio at their house. Frank is the drum machine, Boris is the synth, Bertha is the electronic control center and Chad is the acoustic guitar amp.
“We might have named Boris after that song by The Who, ‘Boris the Spider,’ but, other than that, there isn’t really any backstory behind the naming,” Carter said. “My external hard drive was already named ‘Bessie’ and I thought ‘Bertha’ sounded like another ‘large female’ name.”
Carter, 25, moved out to Colorado from Washington when he was in eighth grade and had to leave his beloved drum kit behind because it was too big. He took up the more portable guitar and pursued sociology at Western State in Gunnison, running track to pay for his tuition.
While in college, Carter formed the band Lunar Light Parade. Despite graduating debt-free, his degree was useless unless he did more school. Since he did not want to move back into his parents’ basement and half his bandmates already lived here, he settled down in Fort Collins.
As for Wiberg, he moved out to Winter Park in 2005 after graduating high school in Boston. He has been involved in music all his life, from choir to orchestra to marching and jazz band to an attempt at punk ska, where he transitioned away from brass horns and into percussion.
“I traveled a lot after the move to Winter Park and decided to settle somewhere less seasonal,” Wiberg said. “I got a good paint job here in Fort Collins about three years ago and I fell in love with the town.”
Wiberg and Carter met a year ago while working temporary jobs at a flower shop for Valentine’s Day. Six months later, Carter’s Lunar Light Parade broke up and a few nights after playing together for the first time, he and Wiberg performed at an Avogadro’s Number open mic.
“John was staying in Boston when he and I broke up with our girlfriends the same week,” Carter said. “They were both long-term relationships, like, four years, and we were on opposite sides of the country. The spirit of the band became all about freedom and working through the pain.”
Their Facebook page describes See to Center as “organic electronic pop.” When asked to define the style of their music, Carter said he writes predominantly love songs and breakup songs (although he is trying not to write so many).
“Writing helps me distance myself from whatever’s pissing me off most at the time,” Carter said.
According to Carter, John Mayer and Jason Mraz were big influences when he was in high school, and then he became obsessed with Pretty Lights, using the same program on Bertha that Pretty Lights uses.
“If you’ve ever heard Dispatch, we’re kind of like that,” Wiberg said. “Acoustic guitar, percussion, Chris’s amazing vocals, and Chris does the electronic background music.”
Listening to See to Center is a borderline religious experience. Carter’s singing talents convey just as much emotion as the lyrics do on their own, and Wiberg’s bongo drums complement Carter to pitch perfection, like hearing your own heartbeat in your ears.
The electronic elements boost their sound with even more adrenaline. It is indescribable. It is pure, fun music which transcends classification, music which aches to be heard, an experiment with the future of rock ‘n’ roll superior to what Fall Out Boy produced on their last album.
“We can strip and be acoustic without any backing, just the bongos, no mic, no reverb,” Wiberg said.
Emily Nicolaisen, a See to Carter supporter and owner of Roots Wellness Studio in Old Town, said she met Wiberg a couple of years ago, back when he was still painting and she was doing the build-out for her business’s space.
“He got back in touch with me recently when him and his partner, Chris, wanted to play some music outside of Roots,” Nicolaisen said. “Everyone really likes their music and it draws people over to our shop. Chris sings so good and John rocks it out on the percussion.”
Wiberg is currently the lead safety at Fly High Trampoline Park and Carter works at a sandwich shop. Both have upcoming summer jobs at Red Rocks, and they plan on using Wiberg’s free flights through the airlines where his parents work to tour from Seattle to Boston.
“Someday, we’re going to just leave our minimum-wage jobs behind and take off,” Carter said. “We’re already making more money with our music than either of us do with our jobs. I made more money in three months than I ever did with my old band.”
As well as financing pricey hardware, See to Center faces the challenge of competing with thousands of other bands for booking dates. They do so by building the trust of the venues, and they are willing to drop anything they are doing in order to answer a last-minute call to perform.
“The worst, most tedious part is the setup and the breakdown for all our equipment, and packing it into the car just right because it won’t fit any other way,” Wiberg said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but, when you’re playing a show, and when you’re getting paid to do it, it doesn’t matter.”
“This is not fluff,” Wiberg said. “We’re serious about what we do. We’re pushing hard, and we’re not taking any of this lightly.”
Collegian A&E Writer Hunter Goddard can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @hunter_gaga.