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Crazed Individuals

Arriving on the Denver scene with their own unique brand of "psychedelic arena rock,"
The Crazed Individuals - Jed Gustafson (vocals/bass), Jimmy Baker (guitar/vocals) and Jake Mertes (drums) - left their hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2001 and haven't looked in a rearview mirror since.

Originally formed by Gustafson and Baker during high school, the two friends began to work on original material first, eschewing the idea of covers. As it turned out, those first writing sessions have proved profitable - forging the eclecticism of the band's sound, and producing almost half of the Individual's current stage repertoire.

"Jim and I were into very diverse stuff from the word go," Gustafson says. "I mean we listen to everything from Beethoven to Bob Marley, Guns and Roses, AC/DC and The Misfits to Johnny Cash and The Grateful Dead… Pink Floyd and The Doors are heavy influences for us both… add to that a great music scene where we grew up, with Prince, Bob Dylan, Soul Asylum, and musicians like Paul Westerburg and The Replacements… it's pretty easy to understand where all these different sounds came from. It comes out pretty naturally."

The band's moniker provides the proverbial icing on the cake.

With all that momentum going in the right direction, the two were still left scouring the local scene for just the right drummer. "It's the age-old story," says Gustafson. "There are a ton of excellent players in Minneapolis, and a friend of ours was laying down some beats for us off-an-on, but it wasn't quite right and we just couldn't seem to make that final connection to form a solid lineup."

The answer to their dilemma came in 2000.

"I had just graduated college," recalls Gustafson, "…and Jimmy was still going to music school. We'd been getting together and doing these big jam sessions around town with all kinds of people showing up, and Jake happened to be at a couple of them… the jam space in St. Paul, MN, was a place for growth for Jim and Jake. Before long the three of us began getting together and it started sounding good, quick.

Meanwhile, in addition to their co-writing duties, Gustafson and Baker had been busy collaborating on other plans for the future of the act - the foremost among them being relocation.

"We decided that we wanted to try a different environment. After traveling around enough to have seen a few places, we decided that Denver was the logical choice. Luckily, Jake was up for the move too, or it would've been back to square one… Jim and I moved out to Denver first and Jake followed a few months later."

When the band finally all hit town, they wasted no time in getting back to rehearsing, pursuing bookings and getting the local music community to sit up and begin taking notice. "We've always been a pretty hard working outfit." Says Gustafson frankly, and at an average of 100+ gigs a year for the past four years, there aren't many who would argue.

The list of venues the Individuals have played since has grown to include nearly every major rock club along Colorado's Front Range: Herman's Hideaway, The Hard Rock Café, Larimer Lounge, Cricket on the Hill, The Oriental Theater and Quixote's True Blue in Denver, The World Famous Darkhorse, Catacombs, and The Foundry in Boulder, Diamond's and Archer's in Fort Collins, and a host of other throughout the state. The band has shared bills with Chronophonic, Battery Park, RedLine Defiance, Full Belly, Fifth Entity, Nic Never, Young Urban Misfits, Eddie Mac, Soul Patch, Wanker, Danny Masters Band, Brian Hornbuckle Band, SPIV, Plastic Parachute, Brethren Fast and local Boulder legends Firefall, as well as co-headlining the 2003 Estes Park Colorado Rockfest - young lions sharing the stage for the two-day event with such legendary acts as Eric Burdon and The Animals, Steppenwolf, Bachman Turner Over Drive, Three Dog Night, and Grand Funk Railroad. "That was a great experience!"

The band has since taken their act farther afield, occasionally playing close to their old stomping grounds at select clubs in Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, as well as sharing the bill at the 2004 NewPalooza Festival in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, with The Willy Waldman Project, featuring players from RatDog, Big Wu, and Jerry Garcia Band.

In 2003 the Crazed individuals also released their self-produced, debut album, LOSING OUR MIND - an eight-cut CD that not only highlights the trio's clever songcraft, but their musical abilitites to expand, explore and explode the structural possibilities of their compositions as well. With such tracks as the sparse and trippy opener, "Fat Toad," the monumentality of the fourteen-minute, feedback-laden guitar rave-up, "Welcome to Looneyville…" and the off-center title track itself - a cut that sounds a bit like Syd Barrett taking a final trip downstream somewhere to an arguably more hopeful place than he found - LOSING OUR MIND is a warning shot aimed at a music industry that seems to have forgotten that its future would be better served by savvy young musicioans who become stars, not stars who might become musicians. Luckily, for the Individuals, signs seem to be pointing to a brighter future for everyone concerned.

"Good things are happening,' Gustafson muses. "We're constantly gigging and our fan-base keeps growing steadily. RockDenver.com and M&L Post Productions is producing a DVD and music video for the Crazed. Look for "Wicklow Pen" the music video on MTV and VH1 soon, if you don't see it, call those muthaf*ckas and politely ask them to play our video, thanks. We're currently working hard on getting a live album together which is being produced by ex-Porno For Pyros guitarist Peter DiStefano, as well as planning a Spring tour of the West Coast and Midwest…"

"If you want to rock and roll, go see the Crazed Individuals."

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