BAND HISTORY – AN EPIC JOURNEY
Wow, where to begin. I guess we ought to go back to the start. Like, way back. In Middle School Chris and I (Jon) liked the same girl. She chose Chris over me (silly girl, didn’t know what she was missing). The girl and I had been childhood friends for years and she wanted me to be friends with this punk kid who had stolen her from me. I befriended the guy and before long we were best buds and the girl was out of the picture (bros before…girls;). Chris had an electric guitar that he could play fairly well and I liked to sing (I actually wanted to be a rapper as a kid, but that all changed when my brother introduced me to R.E.M., U2 and Toad the Wet Sprocket). We started playing cover songs together on occasion and by the 9th grade we decided we needed a drummer. Enter Craig Vanderwier, a 15 year old who was WAY better at drums than Chris and I were at playing guitar and singing. We mostly played cover songs by BUSH, NIRVANA and yes, I’ll admit it, Hootie and the Blowfish. By the Spring of 9th grade we had 1 original song (“Compromise” written by Chris) and decided it would be a good idea to play said song in front of the 2000 students at our High School as part of the school talent show. I played bass (kind of), we all wore matching t-shirts with our band name on them (VERY cool) and our ballad featured a completely out of place 60 second drum solo in the middle of it (had to find a way to showcase Craig’s chops).
Oh yeah, nearly forgot, the band name… We get this question all the time, so hear ya go: In order to audition for our 9th grade talent show we needed a band name… by the end of 4th hour. We had nothin. As fate would have it, Chris was in Chemistry class during 4th hour, and with our deadline looming he sat staring at the Periodic Table of Elements. No joke. His eyes fell upon “Ag – Silver.” Nobody else had a better idea. As I mentioned, we wore matching t-shirts at the show with our band name on them, and for some reason that is difficult to comprehend, a lot of students wanted to buy one. So we printed more and started to sell them. At that point we were stuck. AG Silver was born. A number of times throughout history we have discussed changing our name to something more meaningful, but it’s never happened. At this point, looking back, I’m glad we’ve stuck with our random, last minute selection of a name. Over the past 16 years we’ve been through a lot as individuals and as a band. I was 14 when I started playing music with these guys. Not a lot of people do anything for 16 years. The fact that we have a somewhat random name that we came up with as 14 year-olds helps remind me that we’re a couple of kids who love to play music, and there’s something simple and beautiful about that.
On a number of occasions over the years we’ve had “Industry” people tell us they thought we were great and that we were headed for fame and fortune. This happened for the first time when we were in the 11th grade. We were pretty pumped. Within a year, our first “record deal” proved to be nothing but empty promises, so we moved on to the next great opportunity. We recorded our first album in Nashville during the summer of 2000 and were convinced that we were going to be rock stars. I dropped out of college because success seemed inevitable. 5 months later, due to a change in priorities (read – mostly for a girl, and probably a heavy dose of some bad theology) I quit. I told Chris, Craig and Dustin (our bass player at the time) I was done and was going back to school. AG Silver v2.0 lived on with our friend Brendon Chapin filling in at the lead vox position while I focused on school and a girl.
By senior year of college, AG Silver v2.0 had ended and Chris approached me asking if I’d be up for playing a show together, you know, “for old times sake”. Clever salesman that Chris. We played one show together, started writing new music, and I was hooked. Over the next 6 years, we recorded 2 albums, traveled the country in 4 different vehicles (only 1 of which was totaled in a head-on collision with a semi) while playing shows in 40 states (Sorry Hawaii and Maine, your time will come; Utah, don’t hold your breath) with the assistance of 7 different roadies/managers/techs (Dave, Stickler, Wags, Gavin, Tim, Dan, Kylen – we salute you).
Through it all, we’ve played a lot of music, and have learned a ton about each other and about ourselves. We’ve missed our families at times, but have met a ton of awesome (and only a few, not-so-awesome) people along the way as well. We’ve been surprised by people’s generosity, encouraged by the enthusiasm of fans, disappointed by setbacks, and inspired by singing crowds along the way.
16 years. It’s been a good ride and we’re still having fun. We were kids when we started, and if you could be a fly on the wall of our RV during a road trip, you’d probably agree that not a ton has changed since we were 14 We’re still friends, we still love making music and we still get a thrill from being able to share it with other people. This Winter we’re recording a new album (this time with our friend and bassist Josh Blom :). I guess you could consider it AG Silver v4.0 or 5.0 or something. When it comes out, maybe someone will offer us fame and fortune. We won’t hold our breath. We make music because we love it. Music moves us and we hope our music moves our listeners. If you’ve read all the way to the bottom of this epic band history, I’m assuming you’re a fan of some sort. Thank you. Thanks for your support and encouragement. Thanks for randomly stopping us on the street to let us know you enjoy the music even if the encounter ends up being a little awkward because we’re still not sure how to receive praise. Thanks for buying the albums and singing with us at the shows. And to those fans who have been there for the full 16 years, thanks for buying those original t-shirts that helped seal our fate. This is all your fault, and we’re grateful.
To 16 more years;)
Jon Ornée – Vocals/Keys/Guitar/Random Drums
Chris McKellar – Guitars/BGVs/Random Drums
Craig Vanderwier – Drums/Random Drums/Golf
Josh Blom – Bass/Keys/BGVs/Random Drums