Life’s cacophony brings band together

Airman 1st Class Kerry Solan-Johnson
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Last Minute had enough of the blues.
And it wasn’t just the syncopated 4/4 rhythms the KMC-area band doled out that brought them down; they were having close calls with extinction.

“Our lead/rhythm guitar player deployed to Iraq,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Ford, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, and Last Minute lead vocals and rhythm guitar player. “It was tough and we almost called it quits a few times.”

Arrangements made for stand-in musicians proved discordant; often, a volunteer called at the last minute to say they couldn’t stand in for a show, which left the band scrabbling for a replacement at the last minute.

Replacements couldn’t always fill the shoes left for them, either.
“They couldn’t match the passion, talent or soul of (Staff Sgt. Thomas Croucher),” said Sergeant Ford.

The situation soon became an inspiration for their moniker, Last Minute.
“We needed to go in a different direction, (we needed a) new name and new sound,” said Robert Parks, Last Minute drummer and band manager.

The facelift, which included a shift from blues to a motley mix of different influences from Johnny Cash to the Black Keys, kept the band enjoying what they considered the crescendo of their shows: playing for their fellow troops.

“We enjoy playing on the bases for our fellow troops to show appreciation for their hard work and sacrifice,” said Sergeant Ford.

Sergeant Croucher’s absence eventually fueled the band’s motive to play.
“I was in the Army for 12 years, in three combat military occupation specialties, and I’d lost 23 friends,” said Mr. Parks. “(When I see) GIs coming in to the enlisted clubs or local clubs and having a good time –the feel-good factor in my heart is overwhelming. These people are facing tough times with deployments; we’re trying to give them hope, and do good things in bad situations.”

In the meantime, missing rhythm guitar player Sergeant Croucher thundered on his guitar in Iraq to keep sane.

“Playing was what I felt the most passion for,” said Sergeant Croucher, 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron field mechanic. “It was a great way to escape when times were stressful.”

Sergeant Croucher didn’t have to make playing solo a career, however. His four-month deployment ended and he returned to a band that had stuck together, waiting for his return.

“Being able to jump back into that (atmosphere) was like finally being able to eat the cake you were told you could have but couldn’t eat,” said Sergeant Croucher, “Their sound had evolved and missing that was a bummer.”

But life’s little staccatos managed to get in the band’s way yet again.
Staff Sgt. Kevin Gaines, 86th AMXS dedicated crew chief and Last Minute’s bassist, was sent to Kuwait.

The setback didn’t prove to be the band’s coda; they’ve brought a bassist from another band, Cull Brew, to stand in for Sergeant Gaines.

“I’ve enjoyed playing for Last Minute – they’re a group of care-free dudes who, amazingly, find comfort in never playing a song the same way,” said the stand-in bassist, Staff Sgt. James Bailey, 38th Construction and Training Squadron.

The band has found their forte lies in overcoming, and now they are facing the music as they put the final touches on their first album, “Final Lies.”

“Even though it may be a pipe dream … we’re trying to get that big break that every band tries to do,” said Sergeant Ford.