Looking back, Heather Bachman admits Lip Survis wasn't quite ready for prime time when the group first performed in 2003. At the time, Lip Survis consisted of Bachman and four other attractive young women singing over prerecorded music, dressing in matching outfits and dancing to choreographed moves.
"It was more of a come-see-the-girls type thing," Bachman says.
Plenty of people still come to see Lip Survis, even though the band is about as far removed from the original concept as possible.
"Now it's a straight-up rock and roll band," says Bachman, the only member remaining from the early days.
Lip Survis — which performs covers of rock, classic rock, top 40 and country hits — plays this month at Debricks and The Horn in Wichita as well as Rockin' D's in Augusta.
Joining Bachman in the current lineup are Kevin Ensminger on bass, Cody Street on drums, and Keith Haas and Phil Bolig (who joined just last month) on guitars.
Bachman calls them "some of the most talented musicians in the city" and says they have to be able to handle all the genres of music that Lip Survis plays. She says Haas and Ensminger are good at coming up with arrangements that put the band's own stamp on some covers.
Haas returns the compliment, calling Bachman a "fireball" on stage. Bachman says she "wouldn't be happy if I didn't perform."
By that measure, she's been happy most of her life. Bachman sang with her dad's country band in El Dorado from the ages of 4 to 8. She quit show business to concentrate on sleepovers and the other usual childhood pursuits until, entering pageants at the age of 14, she started singing again for the talent portion. That led to appearances singing the national anthem before local sporting events, and eventually an invitation to join Lip Survis, which was put together by now-deceased local music impresario Randy Rickman.
Bachman said she realized early on that the all-female Lip Survis wasn't working.
"Do you want the real reason or the PC reason?" she asks. "The real reason is it sucked. There was too much estrogen on stage. I'm totally teasing. It was just not the direction we wanted to take."
Within months, Lip Survis started auditioning musicians to accompany the vocalists. The other female vocalists eventually left, the last one about two years ago.
But Bachman said there's still plenty of camaraderie.
"A lot of bands are run like a business," she says. "Ours is like a family. We work hard and we have an incredible connection together."
Haas said the original Lip Survis "isn't something I probably would have been interested in. But now it's a great place for a guitar player to be."
Bachman thinks the band's diverse set list helps set it apart from other local bands. A few of her favorites to perform: "Misty Mountain Hop" by Led Zeppelin, "I Kissed A Girl" by Katy Perry and "Cowboy Casanova" by Carrie Underwood. Pink, Alanis Morissette, Rehab and the Red Hot Chile Peppers are other artists covered by the band.
The band's other secret is to just have as good a time as possible.
"We're super high-energy," Bachman says. "We totally bring the party wherever we're at."
If you go>
What: Wichita rock cover band
Upcoming gigs: Sept. 10 at Rockin' D's, 1010 Ohio St. (Augusta); Sept. 11 at Debricks, 4553 S. Broadway; Sept. 25 at The Horn, 1255 S. Tyler
For more information, go to lipsurvis.com.