Ten Toes Up: Funk-infused Rock Quartet

Written by: Frank Iacono

Ten Toes Up

During the summer of 2012, while vacationing with my family in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina we went to Plyler Park and had the pleasure of seeing Ten Toes Up. Ten Toes Up (TTU) is a funk-infused rock quartet from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. With a nod to the rock bands of old, Ten Toes Up incorporates the funk of the 70’s mixed with southern rock and roll and the blue-eyed blues of the Allman Brothers. The instrumentation is percussion heavy with a dual-drumming rhythm section led by bass and guitar.

Ten Toes Up started with founding member’s drummer Adam Miller and bassist and vocalist Charles Freeman playing together in a small church in a small town. After playing with several different musicians around the beach, they invited percussionist and vocalist Joshua Gregory to join the band after he sat in to jam with them during a show at Drunken Jacks in Murrells Inlet. While playing a show in Charleston, South Carolina, William Craven sat in as lead vocalist and guitarist and was offered the job full time.

Ten Toes Up swept entertainment magazine The Surge’s 2011 reader’s choice awards winning best band, best lead singer, best drummer, best bass player, best song writer, best guitar player and best original band in Myrtle Beach. They’ve been featured both on the cover of The Surge and Coastal Business Life. The band has been endorsed by Haywire Custom Guitars, Hercules Stands, Clayton USA picks, Mental Case Road Cases, and Axekisser Guitar Cables.

Recently, Ten Toes Up rocked-out on ABC’s “LowCountry Live” on Fox’s “Not The News” and Time Warner Cable’s “Live at the Jam Room”. Three of their songs were played in daily rotation on a local TV station. Additionally, they’ve headlined at The House of Blues and their wide appeal has given them opportunities to share the stage with Uncle Kracker, The Wailers, JJ Grey and Mofro, the hip- hop star Twista, The North Mississippi Allstars, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, The Bod-eans, and Cowboy Mouth.

In this edition of The Creative Spotlight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joshua Gregory, the percussionist and vocalist of Ten Toes Up, and asked him questions about the band’s unique sound, musical influences, favorite performers, passion for music, songwriting and upcoming projects.

Q&A Session

CS: How did you come up with the band name Ten Toes Up?

We bought an old moving company’s truck and it was called Ten Toes Up. We all are really laid back so we just went with it… (Fib). We honestly despise this question… sorry 🙂

Ten Toes Up Truck

CS: How would you describe your music genre (i.e., funk, rock, classic rock, alternative, hard rock, etc.)?

Our music is eclectic, we like traditional sounds as well as some more modern. We would like to be known as rock, just rock and nothing but rock but, it’s all subjective. We have been described as roots rock, whatever the hell that means.

TTU in Plyler Park

CS: As a band what famous musicians do each of you admire and how have they influenced you collectively and individually?

We all admire real rock bands of old including, Led Zeppelin, Allman Brothers Band, The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and many more… Some of our more recent influences include Jack White, The Black Keys, Cage The Elephant just to name a few.

CS: How do you market TTU songs, albums, merchandise, and appearances (i.e., Band Website, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, or advertising such as print and online marketing?

Pretty much all of those things. Our website www.TenToesUp.com; it has links to all of those sites as well as iTunes and an online store. Obviously though, Facebook rules all.

You can also visit us on the following sites too:

CS: On your website, tell us what your fans can do or learn about TTU?

Mainly it’s set up to be a quick look at our tour dates. We do have artist information pages and personal bios if you want to get all stalker and find out where we’re all from; and our favorite color is green.

Ten-Toes-Up-Website

CS: Take us through some highlights of the 2011 studio album Sleeping Lion including the hit “Set Me On Fire”?

The Sleeping Lion record was the first time we hired a producer instead of self-producing it all. We had Danielle Howle, a local SC music legend , come in and work with re-writing songs and filling in the spaces that we were having trouble with. It’s funny you specifically asked about Set Me On Fire because that is actually her singing the background vocals and it ended up being one of our all-time favorite tracks.

CS: During a benefit show at the Charleston Aquarium you performed what Ten Toes Up calls a signature move can you expand on that?

Basically it started as an accident that worked out great. A few years ago Joshua was doing a drum solo and asked Charles if he could slap some of his bass strings while he held a chord. Somehow it really worked out and it brought down the house. Since then, it has flourished into its own entity, becoming a signature part of our live show.

Ten Toes Up Joshua

CS: What is the best and worst part of being a musician?

Well the obvious, getting to do what we love for a living is definitely the best part! Sometimes people tell us that our music gets them through a bad day or helped them through tough times. There is no better feeling then someone saying your music makes them feel good, or puts a smile on their face!

One of the worst parts is probably the whole 3rd shift lifestyle. Needless to say we eat dinner at 3am a lot. Traveling is also fun, but it wears on you after a while, being away from our families and all. Careful what you wish for kiddies, it’s not all glitz and glamour trust us!

CS: What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on to date?

Well we did a few showcases in Nashville this January. From that, we found a producer who really liked our sound and wanted to work with us. We went back in May and recorded a 12 song full length album at the infamous Sound Emporium studio. This is by far the biggest thing we have ever done. The record is being mixed and mastered now, and should be out later this fall!

Ten-Toes-Up-The-Band

CS: Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What’s one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

Jack White and The Raconteurs self-titled album” The Raconteurs ”

CS: What aspect of making music excites and discourages you the most?

The exciting part is creating a new sound or different approach, the discouraging part is realizing it’s already been done before when you are finished! You know it’s awesome when you write a song and one of your band mates says that sounds just like… (fill in the blank)

CS: Describe the last time you wrote a song highlighting how it came about and describe how it turned out?

The last song we wrote collectively was an instrumental. We were asked by our producers in Nashville to write one for the new record. It ended up being one of our favorite songs to record and was just all around fun! The instrumental is based on a true story using sounds as emotions and dialogue. Sorry, can’t really tell you what the story is about because there might be a hint of incriminating evidence involved.

Ten-Toes-Up-The-Band-Playin

CS: What’s the most unusual place TTU has ever played or made a recording? How did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording (i.e., please describe where, what happened and how TTU handled it)?

Can’t really think of an unusual place, we did open up for JJ Grey and Mofro at the Greenfield Lake Amphitheater and it poured down rain on us in the middle of our set. To this day people that were at that show said that was one of the coolest rock and roll moments they have ever seen. The bottom dropped out on us and we didn’t skip a beat, fear of electrocution and all!

CS: During appearances, does TTU play a combination of cover songs and originals? If so, what is the blend of covers to originals?

In our home market we are very lucky to have made a mass of fans that enjoy our original songs. There aren’t really any other working bands in this area that do what we do. Any given night you will usually hear 80/20 percent of originals to covers.

CS: Musically what is TTU up to right now (current or upcoming recordings, tours, extravaganzas, experiments, top-secret projects, etc.)?

Our biggest thing right now is we need a national booking agent. We have offers to play from here to Oregon but putting it all together is the hardest part. We have a live album being released in a week and, like we said before, our big Nashville album is due to come out later in the fall. We hope this album helps us find representation and gets some radio play in markets we haven’t been to yet (so when we do show up they will already know the musical styling’s of Ten Toes Up!)

Ten-Toes-Up-The-Band-playin

CS: Does anyone in the band ever get nervous before a performance or a competition? If so, how do he and/or the band deal with that extra adrenaline?

Sure we all deal with nerves from time to time but honestly I think we all feel more at home on stage than anywhere else. It’s in our blood to be performers and it’s what we do best!

CS: How do you think our world would be if music was never invented? And, why?

Music is one of the few things that everyone on this planet can relate to. I can’t think of a time when a war was started because of different tastes in music. Now you through religion into the mix and BOMBS away!! A world without music is nowhere any of us would want to live, especially because we would be out of a sweet job!

CS: How often and for how long do you practice as a band?

Most of our rehearsing is done in the offseason. We work really hard during the summer months so we try not to burn ourselves out.

CS: If you weren’t musicians what would each of you be doing?

Adam – History teacher
William (BJ) – Engineer
Charles – Chef
Joshua – Gigolo

Ten-Toes-Up-The-Band-Member

CS: What advice would you give to kids wanting to start a band?

Don’t! Rock and roll is dead and pay attention in school! (just kidding) Our first bit of advice is to find some people you get along with. Being in a band is like being married to four people at the same time and you have to keep them all happy.. Most importantly leave your egos at the door and have fun. If you’re having a blast your energy will spread through the crowd like wildfire. If your attitude is bad it will have the same effect on your audience.

Song List on Live Volume 2

Ten-Toes-Up-Live

1. Set Me On Fire
2. Alabama Roads
3. Instant Karma
4. Jesse James
5. Struggles
6. Walk Again
7. Secrets
8. Sleeping Lion
9. Howlin’ For You

Song List on Sleeping Lion (2011)

Ten-Toes-Up-Sleeping-Lion

1. I Know You’re Coming With Me
2. Set Me On Fire
3. Sleeping Lion
4. The Fortune Is Easy
5. Walk Again
6. Feel It All Over
7. Twenty-One
8. Emma Be Patient
9. Just a Woman
10. Make You Happy
11. Carolina Mess
12. Struggles

Song List on Bridges & Breakdowns (2008)

Ten Toes Up Bridges & Breakdowns

1. Summertime
2. 1939
3. Don’t You Realize
4. Can You Help Me
5. Waiting for the Sun
6. Homeless
7. Slow Sunday Drivers
8. Alabama Roads
9. One Drink a Day
10. Pleased to Meet You
11. Soldier

Song List on Trip On Troubles (2006)

Ten Toes Up Trip On Troubles

1. Secrets
2. Gracene
3. Trip On Troubles
4. Devil’s Tea
5. She Was Right
6. Faith Is
7. Places
8. Knows the World

About Frank Iacono

Frank Iacono - The Creative Spotlight

Frank Iacono is a highly skilled results-oriented Strategic Marketing Professional with proven critical thinking, problem solving, and project management skills, developed through more than 20 years of experience concentrated in integrated marketing strategies. Frank brings a thorough, hands-on understanding of marketing strategies and technological platforms as related to applications available for web design, content development, email marketing, site and campaign analytics, search marketing and optimization, service and product marketing, lead and demand generation, social media, and customer retention.

Frank has a BA degree in English/Communications and Marketing from Cabrini College, and he received his Webmaster Certification from Penn State Great Valley.