Students by day, rockers by night

Student band Granite Rose prepares to hit the road on week-long tour with nationally known Saving Abel

Students by day, rockers by night

During the 2011-12 school year, with the permission of the Sutherland hall director, Granite Rose was allowed to practice in a cramped room in the upper-campus dorm’s basement pending no complaints from other students.

Fast-forward three years and the band, composed of four UW-Eau Claire students, is preparing to hit the road for a week-long tour in Iowa and Illinois with nationally known act Saving Abel.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Ian McAlister, drummer, said. “Saving Abel is a huge name.”

The band — which includes McAlister, Nick Anderson, Evan Mehre, Ian McAlister and Galen Keily — has mastered the bar scene, playing over 100 shows in the past two years and are ready for a new challenge, Anderson said.

“It was our dream to play every weekend, then we did that,” Anderson said. “People in bars are usually there to drink and we are just background noise, they’re not excited about our music.”

The tour will last from Oct. 2 through Oct. 5. The quartet will pile in Anderson’s mother’s mini van and hit the road to play their first shows outside Wisconsin and Minnesota, if tradition is upheld there will be a lot of Foo Fighters blasted along the way.

The road to hitting the road

Anderson and Keily went to guitar camp together in high school, so when they reunited at UW-Eau Claire they were already familiar with each other’s style, Anderson said.

After uniting on campus the duo recruited Mehre to play base. However, finding a drummer wasn’t such an easy fete. Current drummer, McAlister, is the fourth the band has had.

“Ian has been with us the longest,” Anderson said, noting the current four members of Granite Rose have been jamming together for a year and a half and together put out the band’s second album. “We finally got the fourth member we were lacking and it’s been great.”

Aside from playing the bar scene throughout the state and occasional trips to Minnesota, Granite Rose has made a name for themselves on campus: the rock group was the first to play The Cabin the new Davies Center and were the first to play the new campus mall.

At their onset they were notorious for writing with chalk across camping, urging their peers to like their Facebook page, which now has over 1,000 like, Anderson recalled with a smile.

Along with locking down a fourth member, some of the band’s favorite moments include their first show at Higherground, when they started making money from bar shows and the release of their second album.

However, now all efforts are focused on preparing for the upcoming tour. The opportunity came to be when Anderson was walking down Water Street last summer and saw Saving Abel signs displayed at the House of Rock. The band, whose sound Anderson describes as alternative rock with a classic feel, had been toying with the idea of attempting to tour with some bigger names so Anderson emailed their manager and the two hashed out a contract.

Even though the tour will require missing classes, the band members are all willing to do so.

“I have never felt stupid about telling a professor I want to be a rock star,” Anderson said, noting the university has been incredibly supportive of the band through the years.

Through the years the band has practiced for two hours, two times a week, Anderson estimates. Even though it has been a big time commitment, which required many sacrifices, Anderson and Keily agreed they would do it all over again.

Gearing up for the tour, the band is busy practicing and raising money for fuel and food on the road.  

Even though the tour is just a few weeks away, the band has already started to think about what spring will mean for them when three of the four members graduate.

So far the solution is simple, they all know they want to do music after graduation and they are hoping for the best, Anderson said.

“We’ll see how this tour goes,” Anderson said of the band’s future. “We’re not sure what is going to happen but we know we have a lot of fun together.”