Black Mountain trio brings 'primitive' sound to Town Pump

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

From the moment Doug Hay starts jamming on the drums in a dark basement on a Tuesday night it becomes clear how the Primitive Studio Band got its name.

However, countless hours of practice in small, nondescript spaces just like this landed Hay, Griffin Dodd and Paul Garrity their first show in one of Black Mountain's most storied musical venues. 

Griffin Dodd, left, Doug Hay, center and Paul Garrity practice as the Primitive Studio Band. The trio will play at the Town Pump on Sunday, July 15.

The Primitive Studio Band will take the stage at the Town Pump at 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 15 for its first real gig. That's a pretty big deal for a trio of friends who only started playing together two years ago, according to Dodd.

"We've wanted to play at the Town Pump since we first put this thing together," Dodd said. "It's a great local venue with a lot of history."

The Town Pump opened in 1982 and has hosted live music almost every night since. Its classic dive bar feel landed it in scenes in the 2017 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MIssouri.

"I feel like our sound fits The Pump, and we've all got our dollar bills up on the ceiling," Dodd said. "We put them up there after we played our first open mic night at the White Horse and made it our goal to come back and see them from the stage."

While the legacy of the venue is well-established, the story of the Primitive Studio Band began with a "pull to play music," Garrity said. 

"We were sitting around a fire in the backyard just kind of jamming and playing a little bit of music," Hay said. "Paul hadn't moved here yet but knew he was going to and we said when they moved down we all had to start playing music together."

Every week Hay would add another piece of his drum set to the mix to accompany Garrity's acoustic guitar and the electric guitar of Dodd. Those practice sessions evolved over time. 

"This is the highlight of my week," Dodd said. "It says a lot of our respective spouses, who help us have the time to do this."

Hay began playing the drums in high school when he was the member of "a really terrible hardcore band."

"But I loved it, and especially the idea of playing with other people," he said. "But I hand't really played much in recent years."

Garrity never played in a band, but he first picked up a guitar in middle school. 

"The opportunity to play music regularly has been a huge gift," he said. "It's so much fun, I love it."

Dodd also began playing the guitar as a child and, like Hay and Garrity, put the instrument down for years. When he picked it up to play along with his friends he "didn't expect to stick around."

"I never had a reason to play until I met these guys," Dodd said. "I thought they'd see my limitations real quick and find another band member."

However, the chemistry between the band mates became evident almost immediately, and chords and riffs during warm-ups turned into full songs. 

"Playing in a band helps me tap into creative energy inside of me that I can't use in other ways," Garrity said. 

The Primitive Studio Band has focused much of that energy on writing songs, penning over 20 original tunes over the past couple years. The songwriting process is easier when their are open lines of communication among the members of the band, Dodd said. 

"When you have a conversation with two people, musically, it comes from a different place," Dodd said. "You still understand each other and it's really cool. It's literally hearing what they have to say and deciding if I have something to add."

But most importantly, according to Dodd, "it's just fun to play music." 

"I just want to play music with these guys, but to share what we've done with the community is really special," he said. "Even if we didn't have gigs I'd be playing with these guys anyway."