By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)
Amidst the array of smoke-drenched biker bars and competing classic rock tribute acts that dominate most of the Western-Pennsylvania nightlife, a soulful and hard-rocking power trio has emerged to take the reigns and lead the pack.
Harnessing the Sun, a relatively new three-piece rock and roll unit from the Sharon, Pennsylvania area, burst onto the scene this year with their debut album, Sun Signs.
Consisting of the emotionally matured lyrics and driving riffs of singer and guitarist Doulas Roberts, and the groove-heavy rhythm section of bassist Tom Fratilla and drummer Loren Butz, Harnessing the Sun are a power trio unlike any other witnessed in rock music in nearly 25 years.
The band members have individually been hammering away in separate projects for years, paying their dues and crafting their art. But as of last year, the stars aligned when they joined forces to form Harnessing the Sun.
“We won’t name the establishment, but the three of us have all worked at the same place,” said Roberts. “Tom and Loren began jamming with a couple other guys, but once I stopped going to college, I kinda butted my way in I guess.
“He got roped into it,” joked Butz.
After more than a year’s worth of work perfecting their sound, the band was ready to unleash Sun Signs onto the world. The album kicks off with the upbeat rockers “That’s Right” and “Love You to Death,” before leading into the thought-provoking and inspiring track, “Drop Your Weapons.” From there, the old-fashioned amped-up blues ballad “Whiskey and Smoke” tells a tale almost everyone can relate to at one point or another; job loss and shady folks. The story is told with such soulful swagger and straight-up rocking riffs, the listener immediately takes notice to the range of passion Harnessing the Sun provides.
Another key track on Sun Signs is the bittersweet “Life is Good.” Not exactly a chipper tune, nor is it depressing, but simply real.
“There’s a slight bit of sarcasm in there, but a good dose of reality. We’re forced every day with advertising, it’s shoved down our throat from every angle, whether it’s political or standard advertising to increase commerce. The ramifications of religious advertising are overwhelming. It’s in our face everywhere we turn. You have to make a stand, find your own ground and realize life is good,” said Roberts.
From there, Sun Signs concludes with the up-tempo groovy rocker “Fools” and the energetic “Sea of Madness.”
All in all, Sun Signs is a very concise piece of music, with a wide assortment of emotions in a way similar of the Beatles with The White Album. The songs are all over the place in terms of themes and emotions, yet they’re all there at some point; anger, distress, joy, sorrow and sarcasm. Likewise is the experience of being alive. Life is random, consisting of all said emotions. And life is good.
Harnessing the Sun have also proven themselves a force to be reckoned with in terms of their live performance. The energy and passion of Sun Signs only amplifies when the band plays live. Their captivating live shows around the Youngstown area have began to build a strong buzz for the band, leaving fans wanting more.
“We love what we do and we try to kick ass doing it,” said Fratilla.
Harnessing the Sun will be performing in Youngstown on Nov. 1 at Papa’s Sports Grille alongside Idle Shades and Dakota Spells Disaster. Sun Signs is available on iTunes and can be purchased by clicking here.