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Scott, You are the Golden God

Monday, September 3, 2007
This one is about the lead singer of The Reign Kings, a great band out of Phoenix Arizona. I initially met him when they opened up for Michelle Branch in 2002. He was kind enough to take my camera back stage and take photos - and just, kind enough all around, really. Such a sweetheart.

Sept. 15, 2003.

Heavy, white blinds flank the glass windows that line the front wall of Dream Catcher Recordings. Concealed behind them is a small desk with papers shuffled haphazardly across its surface. A small, color poster of The Reign Kings is taped up agains the entry wall and a large dream catcher sways ever-so-gently from the tall ceilings above the studio's work station.

Through a tall archway with no door, there is a recording room; a room where ample time is poured into mixing and editing The Reign Kings' tracks for their upcoming album, Bloom. On a raised platform, a guitar is tucked underneath a tabletop off to the right. Rounding out the enclosed area is a computer, multi-switched soundboards and three comfortable office chairs, mandatory for assisting in the production process.

The band rehearsal room houses a full drum kit and microphones. It is crowded, but still big enough to accommodate a drummer and his toys, three guitarists and Scottie Briggs, lead singer of The Reign Kings.

"I would get you something to drink," says Briggs, "but our refrigerator, sort of... doesn't freeze right now."

His black hair, shaggy, but styled, easily matches his black T-shirt. Briggs is tall in stature. At 6'7", he towers over most, but his openness and friendly demeanor descend him to a height that does not intimidate. His jeans and comfortable adidas shoes prepare him for what life may throw his way this Saturday afternoon.

"I can't even tell you how much work goes into this," says Briggs about The Reign Kings, which he comprised in 2001.

Named after a Counting Crows song, Briggs formed the band name as a twist on Crows' front-man Adam Duritz's song moniker. "The title has a mystery and darkness," says Briggs. "His take on the world is profound and hopeful."

In the fall of 2000, Briggs produced Hope a project he performed and recorded entirely on his own, save a few called-in piano parts. "I knew I was going to be forming a band," said Briggs. "I just had all these songs and wanted to get them out there on recording."

Soon after his solo release, formation of his band started falling into place. In 2001, just before the 9/11 attack, Briggs met Rhonda Wooder, the band bassist. "I distinctly remember [when I met Rhonda] because we had just sent out demos and promotional info to some labels" recalls Briggs. "Because of 9/11, it took awhile for the A&R people to get back to us."

After the air had thinned from the Sept. tragedy, offers began pouring in. The Reign Kings held a showcase in Oct. 2001 where one particular manager convinced them to record with him in Montana. "He had a magic tongue and told us exactly what we wanted to hear," said Briggs.

The band headed to Montana for the winter months of 2001-2002, signing over all of their publishing rights to the label in eager anticipation of the album that would follow.

"We thought this was our big break," said Wooder.

"It took every penny we had, including our instruments to keep the project going," said Briggs. The band not only lost an overwhelming amount of time, money and commitment, but all of their songs, as well.

"To come back to the place of our friends and family with our tail between our legs and say it didn't work was hard," said Wooder. "We had to swallow a lot."

"It was one of the most horrible ordeals of our lives," said Briggs. "But it was a good learning experience."

Both remaining band members kept a positive attitude and began the recruitment process, moving swiftly toward a fresh start with new band members. "We weren't going to let one man ruiin our dream," said Wooder. "We're going to kick 'til we die."

Along came Jim Hornaday, lead guitarist, in the spring of 2002.

"Jim is one of the smartest guys I know," says Briggs. "We call him 'Science.'"

Hornaday has accomplished a masters in music business from Belmont Univesrity in Nashville, Tenn., and is one of the most notable engineers in Phoenix. In addition, Hornaday has owned and operated Dream Catcher Recordings, The Reign Kings' home-base for production, since 1995. Hornaday has also worked under jazz guitarist Chick Corea, and briefly held an intern position on the set of Home Improvement.

"Scott Baio would call for Pamela Anderson," jokes Hornaday. "I would always have to find her on the set and take her phone calls."

Wooder, Briggs and Hornaday quickly formed the core for The Reign Kings' direction and intentions. "We were the ones that molded where we were going with the band," says Briggs. The three remained close, as a revolving door brought musicians in and out of their collaboration. Drummer, Scott Kusmirik entered soon after Hornaday in 2002, but left earlier this year to tour with the Gin Blossoms.

Briggs and Wooder also hooked up with rhythm guitarist Chris Kurtz, but, "Chris just wasn't stepping up," said Briggs of his close friend. "Last January, I had to make one of the hardest decisions in my life and let him go."

Tim Ringgold, formerly of the Phoenix band BLESSEDBETHYNAME, was soon recruited to replace Kurtz, bringing with him a unique sense of charisma.

"Tim would shave all of his body hair before shows," said Briggs of Ringgold before he joined The Reign Kings. "He'd pour liquid latex all over his body before the show and fans would go nuts."

"He's an unbelievable performer," says Briggs. "He has brought the energy up in our band ten fold."

Topping off the roster in mid-summer of 2003, drummer Tim Ernst, formerly of band Traveler, joined shortly before The Reign Kings opened for modern-rock band DaDa in Tempe, Ariz. Ernst is currently a manager for a company in Phoenix and wants very badly to be a traveling musician.

The Reign Kings' chemistry on stage has had time to simmer and advance over the past year.

"We all get along very well," says Wooder of the musicians who are like brothers to her. "We all take care of each other. It's a big unity."

The band currently has management out of Atlanta, Ga., looking into a few markets to see where The Reign Kings' music might catch on first. From there, the band can begin touring reionally.

"I'm well aware of the grueling schedule [of touring]," says Briggs. "And it can't be any harder than what I do now." A landscape and pool contractor by day, Briggs devotes the rest of his time to the band, which leaves little time for sleep.

Three years in the making, The Reign Kings have developed a sound that is appealingto a mass of listeners.

"We were skydiving the other day and I heard Jim say, '... kind of Coldplay meets U2' and I knew right away what he was talking about," said Briggs. "We have a little Counting Crows in there, too, and people have said there's a bit of an '80's pop element to our music. We use a lot of chunk guitar; the Jimmy Eat World kind of sound."

But is it a sound that would fit into a hit soundtrack to a major motion picture?

"I'd like to go with something really profound and different," laughs Briggs. "But I'd probably go for something stupid like a Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler flick: Dumb and Dumber."

The Reign Kings have opened for Counting Crows, Dishwalla, Michelle Branch, and most recently Blues Traveler, where the band and their street team were responsible for one fifth of the ticket sales to the sold out show at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe, Ariz. It is often rare for a local opening act to have such appeal, but their strong promotional skills and building talent proved that Phoenix-area fans are finally coming around.

"When you're the opener, you get pushed around a little," says Briggs. "At the Blues Traveler show, we were in the kitchen for our dressing room."

On Saturday, Oct. 18, The Reign Kings finally step into the spotlight for "The Official Reign Kings CD Release Party" celeberating the release of their long-anticipated album, Bloom at The Static Club in downtown Scottsdale. Tickets are $5 in advance, $7 at the door. Doors open at 8:00 P.M.

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I'm Sami Jo From Denver, CO, United States Samantha loves to travel, lose herself in a good book, practice yoga at her favorite local studio, The Yoga Mat, and connect with friends, old and new. Her love of working with creative minds extends into her personal endeavors, as well. She and her husband conduct a project called "Songs For Jake," a music collaboration channel designed with the simple mission of getting great songs to one really big music lover. Through her business, Roger Charlie, Samantha focuses on publicity and management, working closely with authors, musicians, and creatives who find value in a more personal approach through communications.
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