by Michelle Harper
Rockford's now defunct 420 on the cover of Maximum Ink in March 2001
420 is not a band with a story of California glitz and glamour. 420 is not a band recounting brutal management dramas or record label feuds. 420 is not about image. According to vocalist Mike Kerry, 420 is about limitless musical boundaries, finding truth in life, and following a dream out of the Midwest into the great beyond.
Formed in early 1998, Mike Kerry, Tom Parrott, John Pond and Mike “Bunj” Bunjan have been causing quite a stir in their hometown of Rockford, Illinois. In 1999, the group won the Rockford Area Music Industry’s Critic’s Choice for “Composer of the Year” for their debut EP “In Four Twenty”. Another RAMI followed the same year for the song “Hands or Time”. Although the band is fairly new to the music scene, Mike and Tom Parrott have been expressing their passion for innovation for over a decade. “The thing about the members of the band”, Mike explains, “is that we all either own businesses or have huge responsibilities to them. We want to succeed, but we have lives too.” This has kept 420 fairly localized for 3 years.
Currently the band is searching for a record label to launch their mainstream debut. Found mostly on college radio stations and internet sites, Mike hopes to break into the national market in the upcoming year.
Their first full length CD “Desensitized” emphasizes acoustic jams with a hint of blues, funk and rock. According to Mike, the title of the CD symbolizes the opposite of their personal experience. Losing family members, friends, and coping with his daughter’s battle with Cancer, Mike uses music to illustrate his view on life. “After all that, it would be easy to become desensitized to living.” 420’s music, lyrically and audibly, extends the theme of staying true to one’s beliefs while NOT becoming desensitized.
One identifying characteristic of the band’s music lies in experimentation, specifically with percussion. Using an ocean drum in the final track “Home” inspired Mike to add a nearly 10 minute excerpt of crashing tides without any musical accompaniment. “A friend of mine recorded it in the middle of the ocean off the coast of Hawaii at midnight. I thought that would sound perfect”.
420’s most recent single entitled “Run” features more of an electric guitar rock feel than previous tracks. But the style doesn’t change the band’s central make-up and drive for open-minded expression. 420 sings about staying true to beliefs in the face of adversity. 420 emphasizes a belief in personal freedom. 420 radiates a soulful serenity through quiet passion. And even though 420 has their heart set on bigger and brighter avenues, they keep it on the level. When asked about the future, and the possibilities of stardom, Mike Kerry says, “We’re a band from Rockford. We’ll always be a band from Rockford”.
420 will be playing at The Annex in Madison, WI on March 22nd and in Milwaukee on March 24th at both of the BOMBLASTICA 2001 Shows featuring FREE ADMISSION ALL NIGHT and FREE BEER from 8-9pm.(5928) Page Views Four Twenty Online: