Welcome Back Concert spotlight: Derik Nelson Band

Sometimes the best place to end is at home. For the Derik Nelson Band, that home is USC. Yet the band’s performance at Ground Zero’s Welcome Back Concert Friday has significance far beyond the sentimental. With most of the four-man band graduating in May, the group is determined to secure its USC legacy. In a special concert for their homegrown fan base, the band will play multiple songs from their new CD due out this spring.

With a string of early successes – an upcoming CD, performances at the Troubadour and the Key Club, and an impressive amount of hype – it seems strange that December marked the band’s one-year anniversary.

Over a year ago, Nelson was a transfer student with a two-album solo career and dreams of something bigger. It wasn’t long before the music major met Jack Kovacs, who he describes as “the most amazing musician I have ever had the privilege of playing with or hearing.”

It wasn’t long before the Derik Nelson Band became a five-member team, with Nelson as the lead singer; Kovacs with guitar; Bert Gay as bass; Brian Hargrove as keys; and Ben Rose as drums.

They describe their style as pop with a little funk, jazz and rock, but deep down playing to their own beat. With majors ranging from guitar to physics, each member of the band brings his own influence.

Though Nelson admits he has a leadership position and considers himself to be the front man, all decisions are democratic.

“We see past our individual roles in the band and understand that what is important is the song and the performance,” Nelson said.

Freedom, however, is the band’s unifying strength. Nelson plans to pursue his solo career as a side project, while Ben Rose drums in many different gigs.

This freedom also encourages creative expression. All band members have a part in the lyrics, which Nelson, the original lyricist, believes gives their music greater variety.

Their new CD – tentatively called North – will showcase the band’s collaboration. With songs about relationships, conflicts and finding one’s past, the CD is a diary of five young college men.

“If people can really connect with what I am singing about and if, at the end of the concert, the whole room is on the same page, than it is a successful night in my terms,” Nelson said.

The Derik Nelson Band played at Ground Zero Friday night.