There is a new band about to stir up downtown Wilmington. The Scoundrels Reunion’s story alone draws in curious listeners. The band releases rock ‘n’ roll that echoes from lead singer and guitarist Brandon Rougeau’s vocal chords. This Friday will be their first show since they dropped their debut self-titled album at Hourglass Studios earlier this month.
Rougeau thrives off music like a plant does sunlight. Playing guitar and trumpet for the school band fed his lifeblood. After finishing high school, Rougeau boldly chose to attend one of the largest contemporary music schools in the world: Berklee College of Music in Boston. He experimented with a number of now-defunct bands during his time there. The transient nature of college led to each band’s demise.
After graduating, Rougeau moved to Wilmington to find a day job to pay off his college debt; however, he hadn’t given up on his passion.
“I always had this idea in the back of my head that I wanted to record an album with some of the musicians I met along the way,” he explains. “You meet a lot of characters out there. [I encountered] a lot of people that I had a lot of good times with, so I always [thought] it would be cool to make an album with all these different people. That is where the name [The Scoundrels Reunion] came from, and that is where this album came from.”
He enlisted around 30 musician friends from his past. Though it proved a difficult feat, Rougeau was determined to see it come to fruition. He already had started writing songs and found himself with an album worth of quality creations. He called a couple friends from different parts of the country, and they jumped onboard.
“The first person I got a hold of was a friend from school named Greg Settino,” Rougeau states. “He is a really great drummer I knew from living in Boston. He flew to Wilmington and helped me lay down a lot of great drum tracks on the record.”
He also recruited Justine Gardner, who attended Berklee School of Music. “Justine came into Wilmington from New Jersey,” Rougeau recalls. “She had a little break on her tour with Todd Wolfe [who played guitar with Sheryl Crow]. She came into the studio and right off the bat laid down some awesome bass lines for me.”
After recording with two scoundrels, Rougeau refused to slow down. He rounded up a few musicians from the Port City, and assembled a band locally.
“I had gotten to the point where I had written and recorded the entire album, but now I needed a touring band,” Rougeau explains. “I really took my time looking for good players in the area, and I just randomly ran into them.”
He stumbled upon Jamie Eggleston while recording at Hourglass Studios. Eggleston specializes in drums but can play anything put in front of him.
“I was actually working on an album I am making with my brother at Hourglass Studios,” Eggleston, of the band Brothers Egg, reports. “Trent Harrison, who is the head engineer from Hourglass Studios, told Brandon that I played drums and was always down to play, so he kind of hooked us up. We got together for a jam session and it sounded really tight. The way I played drums and the way he played guitar and sang sounded nice and solid.”
The third and final member of the three-piece band walked in front of Rougeau by some stretch of kismet. “It was so funny because I was on the hunt for a solid bass player,” Rougeau says with a laugh. “I just ran into him at the gym. He was wearing a Victor Wooten bass T-shirt. I thought to myself: No one would wear a shirt like that unless they are a bass player, and if you are wearing a Wooten shirt, you are probably pretty good.”
His inclination proved correct. Eric Kimmul played in a few bands throughout his youth but now was back at the University of North Carolina Wilmington to study music. “It was crazy how it all worked out,” Rougeau muses. “We assembled our live band. So far everything has been going great.”
The Scoundrels Reunion is influenced by a lot of classic rock. Their grungy guitar riffs bring an added bluesy folk-rock sound. “There is a lot of influence from late ‘60s and early ‘70s rock, but with a modern spin,” Eggleston declares. “There is maybe even a little Counting Crows vibe in it, because Brandon is an awesome song writer.”
Each song is a story from the heart of the lead scoundrel and cultivated with a humble, feel-good attitude. Rougeau is thrilled by their culmination and the multitude of talents fleshing out the outfit.
“This is the first time I have been in a live band where everyone can sing,” Rougeau proclaims, “It really is leading to some cool harmonies that weren’t originally planned but sound great!”
Yet, he hopes to continue bringing in old musicians from the past and record with them on future albums
The Scoundrels Reunion will play at The Whiskey at 9 p.m. “I like dancing, [and] I like moving,” Rougeau chuckles. “Just give me a beer and let’s get going. I grew up listening to a little bit of everything, but at this point, I just like thumping drums and grooving guitars. If people can jump up and dance and sing along to it, then that is what really is going to keep this music going!”
The Scoundrels Reunion
Friday, August 22nd, 9 p.m.
The Whiskey, 1 S. Front St.