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Honor Society's roots in rock, soul

Published: Friday, Oct. 23 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Honor Society opened for the Jonas Brothers and Jordin Sparks this past spring.

Matt Albiani

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Honor Society keyboardist/guitarist Jason Rosen says his band's music sounds deceptively simple. That belies the fact that two founding members — Rosen and lead vocalist/guitarist Michael Bruno — graduated from Boston's Berklee School of Music and the New York University School of Music, respectively.

Also, bassist Andrew Lee is an alumnus of Hartford School of Music.

"There's a lot that gets thrown at you," Rosen said during a telephone interview from Philadelphia. "There's a lot of theory and a lot of performance stuff and music technology stuff."

Rosen said there was so much that all the learning didn't really set in until after he graduated.

"We draw upon those educational practices," he said. "They are like tools in our toolbox."

Music has always been an important part of Rosen's life. When he was young, his parents introduced him to the Beatles, Motown and '50s and '60s doo wop groups.

"Later on I definitely got into Stevie Wonder because of the keyboards and his use of synths. And then I got into a lot of prog-rock like Yes. And in the '80s there was definitely Michael Jackson and then Prince."

Rosen's first instrument was piano.

"My family had gotten a piano from my grandma," he said. "Later on I started playing guitar and the drums.

"I think it's cool to be able to play different instruments. And having an understanding of multiple instruments helps with the arrangements and stuff.

"It's cool to write on different instruments," he said. "On guitar you might write one way and on piano you might write another way. It's cool to be able to go back and forth."

Honor Society was formed out of Rosen's and Bruno's love for rock and soul music. And when the other two — Lee and former Jonas Brothers drummer Alexander Noyes — joined the band, there was already a plan in place.

The plan, said Rosen, is to continue playing music that consists of rock and soul.

"That sound and idea has carried through all the way to (the new CD) 'Fashionably Late.' "

After releasing two extended plays, the band recorded "Fashionably Late," it's full-length debut.

Honor Society worked with producer John Fields, who has worked with Switchfoot and Jimmy Eat World.

"Typically we did a song a day," Rosen said. "(John's) whole vibe is that he's very open to ideas. He's very much a collaborative producer. And he is also a multi-instrumentalist."

Rosen said Fields was great at catching the band in the moment.

"He would say 'Show me this keyboard part you have in mind.' And I would play it and then I'd say, 'When are we going to record it?' and he'd say, 'Oh, we just did.' "

Fields' and Honor Society's chemistry has worked well for "Fashionably Late." It debuted on No. 18 on the Billboard 200, and the band has been named a breakout band by Rolling Stone magazine and deemed "Buzzworthy" by MTV.

The band also opened for the Jonas Brothers and Jordin Sparks this past spring.

"I don't know if you can ever really be prepared for (all the above)," Rosen said. "But we always just focus on making the best music we can and having the greatest shows we can and really just pushing ourselves and being accessible to the fans."

IF YOU GO …

What: Honor Society, Esmee Denters

Where: Murray Theater, 4916 S. State

When: Oct. 24, 7 p.m.

How much: $14

Phone: 801-467-8499, 800-888-8499

Web: www.smithstix.com

e-mail: scott@desnews.com

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