Baltimore indie band on the rise

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Graver guitarist and vocalist Will Teague practices alongside drummer Mark Bessler (photo by Kristin Helf / TU student)

In Deale, Maryland, in a house sitting practically on top of the Chesapeake Bay, Will Teague plugged his guitar into an amp and began strumming to Weezer’s “Surf Wax America.”

About a month earlier, the same notes were played at a College Park house-turned-music venue affectionately referred to as the Ghost Office. Teague, alongside fellow Towson student Mark Bessler and TU graduates Bryan Phillips and Tucker Neill, played “Surf Wax” along with four original songs from their EP “Fiver.”

Teague is an information technology major with a creative writing minor who also happens to sing and play guitar in Baltimore indie-punk band Graver.

Teague and Bessler, the band’s drummer, had formerly played in Ceneterfield, another Baltimore-based indie band that disbanded when Teague needed a break to concentrate on schoolwork and a litany of part-time jobs that have included data recovery, Uber-driving and pizza delivering.

“I just wanted to get a full band back together, start playing shows and record an album,” Teague said. “So I asked Mark and Tucker and Bryan to start playing music with me again. That’s how Graver was born.”

Teague and Bessler, an electronic media and film major, have been friends since childhood. They cite their boring hometowns as the reason they initially picked up their instruments, and have watched each other grow as musicians throughout the years.

“We started doing covers when we were like 12 and 13 years old, and then from there we started writing our own music after doing that for awhile, and we just kept pushing it further,” Teague said.

The Ghost Office hosted Graver’s first show right after the March release of “Fiver.” Shane Geisler, a friend of Teague’s and a musician in his own right, had been in attendance at the show and has since met up with Teague so the two could harmonize together, with Teague on guitar and Geisler on the synthesizer.

“I brought my synthesizers to his place and we jammed,” Geisler said. “We managed a pretty solid demo on an iPhone that day. [It was] remarkable.”

Geisler described Graver only as, “a relatively new collaborative project for [Teague].” The EP, which features songs including “Decay” and “Life’s a Mess” is genre-wise indie-punk-meets-emo-meets-shoegaze in underground Baltimore. However, Graver members might simply describe the band as it’s eloquently stated on their Bandcamp page: “Four sad drunk dads.”

“We practice down here in Deale, Maryland, at Marky Mark’s parents’ house,” Teague lamented.

An hour-and-a-half from their university and Baltimore apartments, the four band members make the trip once or twice a month in their innocuous white tour van. With bassist Neill spending time between Baltimore and New York, they write their music by sending each other audio files of songs they’ve been working on, and then allowing the others to contribute and collaborate.

Deale might not be the ideal practice space, but it’s the best Graver can manage until they can either afford to rent out a space, or until Teague and Bessler move into a house next semester. The bungalow on the bay will continue to support them throughout the summer, when they continue to write songs and practice for upcoming shows at the Ottobar and the Crown.