From Cheyenne, Wyoming, three brothers, Dane Lopez-Smith (vocals/guitar), Issac Lopez-Smith (bass/vocals), and Zach Lopez-Smith (drums) together with friend, Travis James formed a rock band in 2012 and called it, First Decree. Their newest album, This is Our Rise was released last month as they tour the country thrilling fans with a solid rock sound and irresistible stage show.
There is still much to learn. Although First Decree is a successful touring band, there are many elements of music that they are still learning. All four artists started their musical adventure with classical training that became a roadmap of what they wanted to do and where they did not want to be. High school music education left a lot to be desired and Zach resorted to teaching himself. Lately, he has been studying ghost notes, a drum technique used primarily in jazz and funk music that appeals to him. He says, “One drummer that does it really well, that I’ve watched, is Dylan Howard from Trapt. He is really good. That’s one thing I’m looking into now, and how to use them. It creates such a cool dynamic.” James is always looking for ways to improve his skills on guitar and is always open to new techniques and sounds.
Music reflects the artist. Lyrics from the song, “Phoenix”, declares, “This is our time to hold on/Our light will shine through a phoenix rising” in a coming of age statement. The song could be an apt description of First Decree as they stand on the edge of ‘breaking through’ in the music industry. It is also indicative of a generation of people ready to take over running the world, but not quite there yet. The message is clear: Hold on and your time will come.
Everyone does the wave. The best indicator of how well a band connects with the audience is in their response to the music. James recalled a show at House of Blues LA that was a perfect example of bonding with the crowd. He describes, “It was the biggest show for us at the time. The response of every single person in the audience was very positive, like you could tell everyone liked us. It was an overwhelming, huge response that I had not experienced until that time.” Zach recounts a show at the Fillmore in Wyoming where he looked out at the packed house and saw literally every hand waving in time with his own and knew they were having as much fun as he was.
The music is good when you can’t stop listening. The crowd at the Odeon in Cleveland stood transfixed throughout the First Decree set. From the first note, it is impossible not to react to the music. With the first song, “Stop” I felt like I could do anything. The second song, “Phoenix” convinced me that it was possible. First Decree is hard driving rock music with a strong bass line, creative drum fills, balanced melodies, and haunting, sweet guitar solos. Surprising changes, dramatic pauses, and seamless transitions add to the cohesive and professional sound that is instantly recognized as First Decree. The one downside to the show was it ended too soon, and from the very vocal audience protests, I was not the only one that thought so.
First Decree will continue to support their new album as they tour the country through next month. They will begin work on the next First Decree collection when they return home.