Colten Settle's rock and fusion band is about to release its self-titled debut with a release party at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, at the V Club, yet he still plays bluegrass music in his father's band in southern Ohio and he is about to take on the music side of the business in nearby Putnam County.
The Settlement was formed in 2014 and includes Settle, Paul Stephan, Alex Cardwell, Jordan Trent, Arika Michaelis and Daniel Beahm. Settle and Stephan met in high school, and the rest of the group came together while attending Marshall University. Everyone in the band was a music major at some point in time with two achieving their degrees. Michaelis is still at Marshall, although she is now pursuing a communications degree.
With a group of accomplished musicians onboard, The Settlement are able to bring improvisation as well as fun to their unique music. It is the No. 1 creative outlet for Settle, though he is surrounded by other aspects of the musical experience.
"Currently I am a music teacher, although I actually just took over an establishment and became a store owner, which is kind of frightening yet very exciting," Settle said. "It is a music store in Hurricane (West Virginia), and I was just giving lessons there when the owner of the store moved to Tennessee. So, when he moved away, I kind of filled the vacuum and took on more of a manager's role at the store. Then, he wanted out of the business, so I took it over."
Settle plans to continue providing lessons at the former Main Street Music, now Putnam County Music Exchange, and the store also offers instrument repair.
"It is a learning process because before I was just giving music lessons, but now I have to look at the business side of it," he said.
As for The Settlement, the band's groove is diverse yet powerful and flowing.
"Our sound is definitely broad and is an eclectic mix, for sure," Settle said. "We feature a lot of funk elements and rock elements and in some ways it is pop music. But, I guess you could call us a jamband because we do improvise and do a lot of extended tunes that way. It is a combination of all of that stuff - rock, funk and jazz all mixed together. It is a bit of a hodgepodge. There are a lot of different sounds on this first record."
The self-titled album by The Settlement contains all original music and was recorded at Earth Tone Audio studios in Huntington. The recording contains the group's best, most polished songs written between 2011 and 2015. When The Settlement comes to perform at the V Club, however, the music will go to another, more spontaneous level.
"On the album, we just play our songs shorter," Settle said. "When we play our songs live, I'll just say, 'Take the form of the solo that we just put on the record and multiply it by four or eight. Do it much longer.' On the record, we will make it a shorter and catchy four-bar phrase. A lot of our music came about organically and was not written out, but we wanted it to sound arranged even though it was improvised. We want it to sound as if it is all intentional, even if it is not."
When the members of The Settlement are all on the same page onstage, and everything is working right, and it seems like nothing can go wrong, that is what makes the experience of being in a band worthwhile.
"That is when it is electric," Settle said. "You get that feeling that makes your hair stand up. You get that feeling that somebody is watching you and something is wrong, only it is a good 'wrong.' I'm not really sure how to describe it," he said, laughing. "I consider what we do onstage a big risk. There are plenty of bands that record a song one way and when playing them live, they might play it exactly the same way. Our goal is to change our songs every time, in the spirit of The Grateful Dead or a lot of the jazz music I listen to. We're never going to play the same song the same way every time. So, when it does click, it is that much more rewarding."