From Rock Band to real life

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Video game inspires neighborhood friends to form band

That's What She Said

That’s What She Said began as most musical bands do – a group of friends hanging out. Little did they know at the time, but Sommerwood neighbors Jason Venturi and Aaron Smith started the ball rolling at a small cookout in 2005. In 2006, the neighbors invited a few more people over for the Fourth of July.

“It was a good party and grew from 20 to 50 people. The next year we had 80 – it was a big block party,” Venturi said. “In the third year, we said, ‘How are we going to top this next year? We need to get the band back together!’”

The two previously played in bands when they were younger, and while the idea seemed ingenious after a day of partying, their wives – who the men claim agreed with the idea at the time – quickly sobered up the next morning and made sure their husbands knew they weren’t serious.

“Our dreams were shattered,” Venturi joked.

The key turning point came when they were playing the video game Rock Band during the holiday cookout in summer 2009. As Smith played bass guitar, Venturi was on lead guitar, and his friend, Josh Bach, impressively belted out vocals. An idea began to take root – this make-believe attempt at rock ‘n’ roll could blossom into the real thing.

“Aaron called me and said, ‘If I get a bass, will you get a guitar?’” recalled Smith. “Once we heard Josh, we knew we had potential once we found a singer.”

“The game is fun, but not as good as the real thing,” said Joe Marcum, rhythm guitarist and Sommerwood resident.

After adding Marcum and a drummer who also lived in Sommerwood, the equipment was purchased and the basement practices began. Knowing they needed a name for the band, members were talking one day and kicked around ideas from NBC’s most-watched sitcom.

“We are all fans of ‘The Office,’” said Smith. “Someone made a comment and then came the joke, ‘That’s what she said.’ How it came up, it was better than anything we could think of.”

The band then grew from random run-ins and luck.

“Everything kind of happened for a reason,” Smith said.

Meet The Band

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After their initial drummer moved away, Westfield resident Ralph Cook joined. Violinist Bennie Harris was discovered by Venturi at Wendy’s. Harris was wearing a treble clef T-shirt that caught Venturi’s eye, and instead of eating a meal with his family, he talked music with Harris. Saxophonist Mark Ortman was looking to sell a high-end saxophone on craigslist before the band contacted him about coming to perform with band members after watching clips of Ortman’s work with the symphony.

“The brass sounds amazing. It brings energy,” Venturi said.

The most recent addition was Bach’s sister, Melissa Bach-Millspaugh, who joined her brother’s band three months ago. The addition of a female singer allows a wider setlist of songs to feature her voice.

“It’s been great. We grew up in a musical family,” Bach said.

“We feed off each other’s energy,” Melissa added.

Like the video game Rock Band, TWSS offers a wide variety of music – from the ’60s to present.

“We all have different (musical) preferences,” said Bach-Millspaugh. “We have 31 different flavors – we’re the Baskin-Robbins of bands.”

Two years after forming the group, TWSS is playing locally in the Indianapolis area. In February, the band performed at Cheeseburger in Paradise in Fishers and Stacked Pickle in Carmel.

“We’re established in our careers, but fighting in the trenches as a band,” Smith said.

Venturi described the touring schedule like a Sunday afternoon motorcycle ride – “How many shows do we really want to play?” Fame and money isn’t what the members are looking for, but rather, the outlet music provides in their lives.

“We love it as a hobby,” Venturi said.

“Finding balance between work and family is crucial,” said Bach. “I didn’t know how much I needed a creative outlet. It’s amazing how great I feel at practices and shows. This helps me balance out my life.”

For now, TWSS band members said they want to focus on being known in the Indianapolis area.

“We have a good time. We aren’t looking to go on tour and quit our day jobs,” Marcum explained.

 

See Them Live

That’s What She Said will be performing 8 p.m. Friday at Cheeseburger in Paradise, 9770 Crosspoint Blvd., Fishers. Other upcoming public performances include April 20 at Stacked Pickle in Fishers, May 5 at Fishers’ Cheeseburger in Paradise and the Noblesville Relay for Life May 12 at Forest Park, 701 Cicero Rd. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/twshesaidband.

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