Average League talks music

Vu Chau

Members of this week’s band at Sacramento State’s Nooner, Average League, spoke about the band’s inception, the win at Sac State’s 2015 Battle of the Bands, their debut album and their camaraderie.

Average League is a local four-piece rock band that consists of lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Darian Gaultney, bassist and backing vocalist James Travis Rhodes, lead guitarist David Paxson and drummer Ronald Jackson.

The self-proclaimed “grungy-Fall Out Boy” band started out as a two-piece with 22-year-olds Gaultney and Jackson in 2013. Rhodes, 25, and Paxson, 23, joined the band in 2015.

“Ron [Jackson] and I have been playing for eight years, since high school,” said Gaultney. “We decided to play low key. Then we went from two-piece to four-piece.”

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According to Jackson, adding two members inadvertently changed the band’s tune. Gaultney described Average League’s sounds before Rhodes and Paxson to be heavier.

“Ron [Jackson] and I like everything 2005,” Gaultney said. “Give us all your Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance’s.”

Gaultney and Jackson competed at Battle of the Bands at Sac State in 2014 as a two-piece act and failed to place. The band decided to re-enter the contest, as a four-piece, in 2015 and ended up winning the $500 gift-card to Guitar Center, courtesy of Sac State UNIQUE program and the University Union.

“We had a kind of a novelty attention with people saying that we sound good for a two-piece,” Gaultney said. “But we weren’t taken seriously as a two-piece. It was not like ‘you sounded good’ but more like ‘you sounded good for this handicap thing that you got.’ Now, our music sounds more professional than ever.”

The last member to join the band was Paxson, who had less than a week to learn the three songs they had to play at the contest last December.

“Not only is this guy an incredible guitar player,” Rhodes said of Paxson, “but his dedication to the band is outstanding.”

With the exception of Paxson, the other three members have different jobs on the side as well. Gaultney is working at Direct Hit Pest Control, his parents’ company based in Rio Linda. Jackson is a Bimbo Bread merchandiser, while Rhodes is a manager at a local 99 Cents Only Stores in addition to being a full-time computer science student at American River College.

The fourth member, Paxson, decided to quit his job at McDonald’s to dedicate more time to the band. Although, Paxson said he is in the process of looking for a job on the side.

Their debut album, “Effort Player,” was finished in July 2015, but the band decided to release it on iTunes less than two weeks after winning Battle of the Bands in December.

“Most of the time, we listen to music, then it touches us, and we want to do the same thing,” Jackson said.

The album was entitled “Effort Player” because of the modesty they feel about their musical ability. Gaultney downplays his vocal skill every so often, and Jackson attributes his drumming ability to the overall chemistry of the band.

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“In a way, we are all effort players,” Jackson said. “We’re just trying our very best to do what would sound like how we’d want.”

The most challenging factor to keep the band active has been to get everyone together for rehearsals, said Rhodes.

Despite all of this, Gaultney’s wife, Chelsea, 21, said she fully supports her husband in his music career.

“I have been to every show he played,” Chelsea Gaultney said. “Even if I had to schedule off work or school, I usually work around that to be with him for sure.”

Stephanie Peterson, a sophomore biology student, Jackson’s girlfriend of seven years and Rhodes’ younger sister, said her boyfriend is naturally gifted at music.

“I really try to support [Jackson],” Peterson said. “I have paid for a lot of his band’s equipment. I bought him a piano recently because he was trying to get into piano and to learn his theory for singing.”

In the meantime, Jackson is enrolled at American River College studying music. He plans to transfer to Sac State once his Associate’s Degree program is finished at ARC. Eventually, the couple would like to move to Boston, Mass., so Jackson can attend Berklee College of Music.

At the moment, the band is working to release an EP that will involve all four members and is also hoping to get signed with a record label in the near future.

“Four years ago, I never thought I would play music like this,” Rhodes said. “I thought I would be in a progressive rock band like Rush or Dream Theater. Now, it is so much better because I get to come to and also hang out with my best friends.”