June 3 2009 12:00 AM

Sound the alarm: Grand Ledge band melds metal, pop and NES


Mixing heavy metal and indie-pop with a dose of old-school Nintendo, Jason Alarm has formed an original sound that strays from typical emo and metal.

The Grand Ledge band’s new fivesong EP, “Engage,” is proof of that. The CD was released at a typically frenzied Jason Alarm show last Thursday at the Sun Theatre in Grand Ledge. The album is a joint release by local record labels Good Time Gang and Bermuda Mohawk Productions, and is available now at Lansing area record stores.

The band members (all juniors at Grand Ledge High School) melded two polar opposite influences into one heavypop sound. “When we wrote those songs, all we were listening to was Iron Maiden and Weezer, so I would say it’s all somewhere in between that, with a keyboard," said Pat Hogan, the band’s bassist. “It’s a weird combination.”

The ‘80s synthesizer sound was inspired by years of playing games on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. “Those Nintendo songs stuck with us,” Hogan said. “The composer for a lot of the old NES game songs did a good job with writing lines that would stick in your mind, like the ‘Zelda’ theme.”

Jason Alarm, which also features Matt Waterman on vocals and guitar, Kirk Mason on drums and Brandon Blanchard on synthesizer, formed in 2007. Although the band is only a couple of years old, the members have been friends for most of the lives, having all met each other when they were only 5. Rock ‘n’ roll didn’t come into the picture until one fateful day when the guys were in middle school. “When we were like 13 or 14 we saw a show; it was the Van Ermans, Shoelace and the Rick Johnson Rock‘n’Roll Machine,” Hogan recalled. “That was the first concert any of us had seen. Our minds were blown. Right when that was done we thought, ‘These kids aren’t much older than us. Why don’t we start a band?’”

While the entire band contributes to the songwriting, Waterman is the driving force behind the process. “Matt is a really weird song writer,” Hogan said. “We have a few songs that are just about horror movies. We have songs about old kids books we read when we were little. We don’t really play any love songs, but he did write one song about getting over a crush.”

“Wild Zero,” a song on the new EP, is devoted to a cult movie that influenced the band. “[It’s] about the Japanese horror movie featuring one of our favorite bands, Guitar Wolf,” Hogan said. “There are no subtitles on the movie or anything, so when the movie was finished we were all just like, ‘What the fuck did we just see?’”

Jason Alarm plays most of its shows in Lansing, but Hogan said the band does enjoy playing the Sun, a landmark venue in its hometown that has become the city’s go-to spot for rock shows. “Grand Ledge is a frustrating place to book shows,” he said. “But the Sun Theatre is a nice place that we really like to play at. The fact that it’s a recognized place in Grand Ledge makes it so kids are always able to go there. Everybody in Grand Ledge knows it.”

For more on Jason Alarm, visit www.myspace.com/jasonalarm.