The five members of the band, The Cascade Sun, have been taking their fondness for Mello-Yello to a somewhat different level over the past few months and are hoping to win a contest sponsored by the soda pop.
The Cascade Sun consists of Mat Charley on lead vocals and guitar, Casey Black on bass and background vocals, Tim Olson on drums and backup vocals, Sam Buchholz on keyboard, and Ben Carlson on second guitar. They've been a band for three years, Charley said, and have been through some incarnations. Charley said he started writing music when he was 13 and then wanted to get together with other people and play, so he and his friends Olson and Black formed a band and then added two more of their friends shortly after.
Practice time for the band depends on what event is coming up, Olson said, but usually they'll practice four or five hours a week. "Not nearly enough, though," he added. "We get bored at the end and say we're done practicing."
Three of the five members of The Cascade Sun practice one of their songs in their recording room. Pictured from left to right are Casey Black on bass guitar, Tim Olson on drums, and Mat Charley on guitar. Other members not pictured are Sam Buchholz and Ben Carlson. The band has been playing together for three years and have entered a music video contest with hopes of winning the $25,000 grand prize.
The band's name came from some of the members paging through the dictionary, but without Charley, the band's leader, knowing about it, Olson said. Charley was in Rome at the time and had no way to get in contact with anyone and no one could contact him, so when he returned, his bandmates told him about the name change, Olson explained. They thought the word "cascade" sounded bright and fun, Olson noted.
The Cascade Sun mainly plays alternative pop songs, Charley said, songs that are very accessible. Charley writes the songs, but Olson said the band likes to be able to play any kind of tunes so they have a list of Top 40 and classic hit songs available that they can play. They also have a wide array of musical influences, Olson added, and they all bring their individual preferences to the table. For example, Charley tends to be influenced by Radiohead, Coldplay, and the Beach Boys, he said.
A few months ago, The Cascade Sun entered an online contest that could win them $25,000. The contest is sponsored by Mello-Yello called the One Track Find competition. Olson said they saw the contest on Facebook, which was basically a music video contest and they produced some videos on their own. They submitted one of their videos, were selected to be in the top 50 semi-finalists, and then from May to July, people could vote on Facebook, which narrowed the field down to five finalists, including The Cascade Sun, Olson explained. At the end of the first round of voting, the band went to Bismarck to re-record their song and make a new video at Makoche Studio, he added. The contest is in the final round of voting now and the band is competing with four other artists for the $25,000 grand prize, with voting going until Sept. 15.
People can vote once a day and voting is done through Facebook, although you don't have to have a Facebook page in order to vote. There's a link to the voting site on The Cascade Sun's Facebook page, Olson explained, and clicking on that will lead you to a site where you set up an account, but setting up an account won't take long, and then you can vote. "It's a pretty simple process," he said.
The members of The Cascade Sun heard about this contest through friends of theirs who were obsessed with Mello-Yello in college and one friend keeps up with the soda pop online, who then told the band about the contest, Olson explained.
The Cascade Sun recorded five separate music videos with five different songs, which they called the soda pop songs, said Charley, and one of the songs included a string quartet from Minot State University. They filmed in their recording room, he added. "There was no plot to the music videos, just more like performance video, but we tried to make it our best," Olson said.
Their song "All the Things You Say You Are," which is the one featured in the contest, is mainly about rejection, but Charley said they don't like to say exactly what it's about. "Basically, it's about rejection in a relationship from the point of view of the person doing the rejecting," he noted.
"To win this (the $25,000 grand prize) for a young band would be a big thing and we're right on the verge of big things happening for us," said Charley. "So it would be a huge step in getting signed to a record deal."
The Cascade Sun may be a little pop band from North Dakota, but they have big dreams and want to go to the top. "We don't like how just because we're from a small town, we can't go to the top," noted Charley. "We have music that would appeal to people outside of North Dakota." He said they don't set a mark for where the band can go, though, but they would ultimately like to get a record deal. "The prize money would be a step in the right direction."
People can hear The Cascade Sun play on Friday at the first home Minot High football game, Olson said, as well as at the Rock the Leaves music festival on Saturday. The band will be headlining the day-long festival at the Scandinavian Heritage Park, with their performance slated for 9 p.m. The 6th annual Rock the Leaves festival will go from 1 to 11 p.m.
"This is one of our favorite shows," Olson said. "And it will be a lot of fun."