By: Justin Regner
All Photography By: Melissa Regner
When I was young, my parents put me in piano lessons where I learned the fundamentals of music. Throughout school, I played French horn and steel drums and was in every choir I could be in. My directors always pushed me to do better, and I can’t thank them enough for that.
I’ve often wished I had a brother who could play drums for me, but with my luck he’d be a head taller, much better looking and want to play basketball instead. Growing up with two older sisters in the 90s I got my fill of Backstreet Boys and one hit wonders. We might not have had the same taste in music, but we all had an appreciation for it. I was lucky to come from a supportive and musically inclined family.
Growing up in small town America was always interesting. I count myself lucky to have had the friends I did. I would spend countless afternoons with my neighbor Jesse, skating, getting dirty, being a menace, you know, boy stuff. Even at a young age, we both had a love for music. He introduced me to a world of music I didn’t know existed; The Pumpkins, Alkaline Trio, Nirvana, the list goes on. His older siblings always had guitars or drum kits lying around so, of course, we had to play with them. I still remember the first riff I learned on guitar was Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.”
Sometime during eighth grade year one of my best friends, Mitch (a drummer), thought it would be a good idea to start a band. I can recall him saying “I know this kid who plays guitar. You should play bass!” Shortly after, I bought my first bass and fell in love with learning how to play different styles and techniques. I arrived at our first band practice ready to do…whatever it is you do at band practice. Turned out the guitarist Joel wasn’t half bad. I knew I had a lot of work to do if I was going to keep up. After a few practices and some questionable band names (of which I’ll spare you) we settled on the name Less Than Four. Powered by energy drinks, Pixy Stix and hormones, we poured our teenage hearts into every punk-rock anthem of unrequited love. After almost six years of playing together, we disbanded, but we still remain close friends to this day.
I started playing with a very talented singer and pianist named Ian in 2006. Not long after, the band Faintly was born. There never seemed to be enough time in the day so we would pull the occasional all-nighter to write and rehearse. We were always at our most creative state when sleep deprived. After a lot of hard work and changes in the lineup, we decided it was time to shake things up. In 2009, we hit the road; destination: Seattle. Once we arrived, we picked up the other half of our group and started playing shows around the Pacific Northwest. Experiencing Seattle’s nightlife was invaluable to us as musicians. After seven years of being with Faintly, I made the difficult decision to leave the group. I felt it was time to rediscover and reinvent myself as a musician.
It is true that nothing worth having comes easily. The journey that brought me here hasn’t been the smoothest one, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I can’t think of anything better than making music with good friends and knowing no one else is doing exactly what you are in that moment. Being able to perform what you’ve created is just the cherry on top. I’ve been lucky enough to play for some great crowds at some incredible venues, but I’ll never forget who was with me along the way.
Since going solo, I’ve been writing more diligently than ever before. I’ve been playing a lot of shows, mainly in Southeastern Wisconsin, including being able to open for Matthew Mayfield while he was on tour. I also play at Marsibilio’s Trattoria in Mayville on the third Thursday of every month. Currently, I am in the process of finalizing my first official album to be released in 2016. As a challenge, I decided to record all instrumental and vocal parts myself. There are a lot of reoccurring themes throughout the album. There’s a definite sense of longing with a bit of optimistic anticipation for what’s ahead. The first song on the album is entitled “Forward.” I wanted this song to set the tone for the rest of the collection. It’s about setting out on that journey you’ve always needed to take even if the outcome is uncertain. “You don’t have to know where you’re going, just where it is you want to be.”-Parachute