GWINN - Little Lake native Brandon Westman wanted to play rock music so he took a most modern approach to becoming part of a band.
"(Trippline) started out as a 'looking for' message on Craigslist that I sent out," Westman said. "Scott Gibson and Jonathan Billing answered. We all got together and jammed."
Eventually adding singer Brian Stone and guitarist Paulie Love, Trippline has been rocking the Upper Peninsula for more than a year.
Members of Trippline are, front: Brian Stone, lead vocals. Back from the left: Brandon Westman, lead guitar and vocals; Jonathan Billing, bass; Scott Gibson, drums; and Paulie Love, guitar and vocals. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
Each Trippliner found his way into music in rather like fashion.
"It was my sophomore year in high school and I started listening to Metallica, 'The Black Album' to be exact," said Westman, who is lead guitarist and provides vocals. "And I fell in love with the sound and the guitar riffs. They made me want a guitar for Christmas, which I eventually received and still have."
Marquette native Gibson was about the same age when the musical bug bit him.
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"I started playing music in high school," he said. "My friends wanted me to buy a drum set to get in the band so I did. 1989 was the start. The musical influences that made me want to play the drums were John Bonham, Keith Moon, Stewart Copeland, Bill Ward, Dave Lombardo and Danny Carey."
For self-described military brat Love, who plays guitar and contributes vocals to Trippline, middle school was the era of his first musical adventures.
"My start in music was playing in my middle school band, playing the tuba," Love said. "Not so great. But I did it anyways. I saw a bunch of girls in my class looking at Hit Parade. They were going crazy over a picture of Steven Pearcy (of Ratt). I looked at the picture and it was like 'wow, I want to be noticed like that.'
"My first tape I bought was Ratt "Out of the Cellar' and I loved it. Everyone else was listening to The Beastie Boys, I was listening to Ratt and Metallica."
Bassist Billing started even younger. Born in Las Vegas, Billing was adopted by an Air Force family and moved around a lot.
"I began playing the saxophone in fourth grade. After a year of playing, i decided to switch to the trombone which I played for the remainder of my school days," Billing said. "I have played around a bit on the piano and began teaching myself to play the bass guitar about 10 years ago."
Newberry native Stone said he's always wanted to be a musician.
"I wanted to become a musician because I love to sing," Stone said. "The first music I remember liking is country, Garth Brooks."
With the exception of local music scene newcomer Westman, the other members of Trippline have been in local bands like Torn Angel, Mad Hatter, Touch of Idiocy, 2fitty7 and Hollow. All five in the Trippline lineup enjoy being part of this band.
As Billing put it: "I think we all enjoy playing for its own sake, but there is something about the energy you feel while performing. When the mix is good, the sound is great and the crowd is really into it there is an energy that seems to wash over you in waves and a thrill that is nearly indescribable, there is nothing else quite like it.
"As much fun as we have there is nothing really easy about playing in a band. We all spend hours practicing, we invest thousands of dollars and travel around the U.P. hauling our own equipment. It's no walk in the park, but I don't believe there is one of us that would trade it for anything."
Love added: "The best part of playing is getting to do our originals. To see people bobbing their heads to our songs. And to see people singing with us as well."
The worst part of the rock musician gig?
"Staying awake for the long hauls home," Stone said.
"Tearing down," Gibson said.
"Besides tearing down, the worst part is when there is no energy to feed off," Westman said. "I love to see people dance and just have fun when we play."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is email@example.com.