When Livy High takes the stage at America's Pub on Saturday night, it'll be a debut three years in the making.
If that seems like a long germination period for a rock band, consider that Jason Carroll, lead singer and driving force behind Livy High, is a mechanical engineer with a linebacker's body who obviously believes in patience and preparation.
Couple that with his passion for music — he once quit his day job to pursue it full-time — and it all begins to make sense.
"You only have one shot to do it the right way," Carroll said. "If you rush into something, you're going to have a harder road than if you just take your time."
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Livy High started three years ago with just Carroll, who quit his engineering job, sold his home and moved in with his parents. He spent six weeks writing the 11 songs that appear on Livy High's CD, which is called "Love, Hate and Everything in Between."
He traveled to Atlanta to record that CD with producer Rick Beato, known for his work for Shinedown, NeedToBreathe and other national artists. Beato and a session drummer played most of the instruments. Only after the CD was finished did Carroll go about putting together a band. His first try, in Kansas City, didn't work out (although those musicians appear with Carroll on the CD sleeve).
He then returned to Wichita and spent 15 months putting together the current Livy High, which includes Jett Miller and Andy Boyd on guitars, Pat Slingsby on bass and Jonny K on drums. Collectively the musicians are veterans of such bands as Tainted, Alien 8 and Years of Life Lost.
"We've been practicing ever since to have the show where we want it to be," Carroll said.
Working with Nick Barton of Wichita's Prestigious Films, the band also filmed a video for "No Angel" — the first song on the CD — with the kind of production values usually associated with MTV rather than a local band. It includes the obligatory foxy babe, an auditorium full of screaming fans (East High students recruited via Facebook and fliers) plus what looks like eyeliner for Carroll.
Carroll had experienced some success as a singer with local bands Waste of Time and Six Stigma before launching Livy High. Still, the time and money he's invested in that effort are beyond the norm for most musicians. Asked about it, he says, "I got into music pretty late. It was the first time in my life I had a true passion for something. There's a difference between doing something and doing it well and having a true passion for it."
With their brooding lyrics and crashing power chords, Carroll's songs will remind many people of bands like Nickelback, Staind and Alice in Chains. (Coincidentally, they'll play an acoustic set during a Nickelback before-party at the Pub tonight; the free show starts at 5 p.m.) Carroll doesn't downplay the similarities, saying they are the types of bands he listened to as he wrote.
"I love catchy, hooky songs," he said. "That's what's in my heart. I'm not in it to make money or sound like somebody else. That's just what comes out."
"I don't write beer-drinking or party songs," he added. "I try not to be trite."
The band's name, he explained, comes from the Roman historian Livy, and the fact that Rome fell despite achieving greatness as a civilization.
Carroll and the other members of Livy High have aspirations beyond Wichita. To that end, they want to play here no more than once every five or six weeks while scoring other gigs around the region.
"We're kind of building things from the back end," Miller said of the band releasing a video before its first gig. "We're trying a different path to see if that leads to more success than other local bands have had."
Miller promised a stage show as polished as the video. "There's no dead air. You have to do other things than just stand up there and play music. All of that goes into building a memory for the audience."
After three years, Carroll thinks the pieces he's long envisioned are in place.
"You want to build a buzz and capitalize on it," he said. "I think the rest will take care of itself."
If you go
What: Local rock band
Where: America's Pub, 116 N. Mead
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
How much: $5
For more information, go to livyhigh.com