A minor tweak was all it took to alter the Fairfax-based Potentials from a can-do group of songsters into a genuinely buzz-worthy band. Just last year, Potentials frontman and songwriter Benjamin David switched to electronic beats instead of the band’s live drummer (sorry, dude) and suddenly, he found his sound taking flight.
“I really started experimenting in the studio with electronic drums and I started having a lot more inspiration,” David says. “Translating the electronic drums to a live drums sound just wasn’t doing it for me. So I figured I’d go full throttle in the electronic drums route.”
Now the group, which also includes guitarist Ryan Wagner and keyboardist Mike Riddile, is boring full-speed ahead, upping its regional regiment of shows and targeting the Fall for its first full-length release.
The momentum The Potentials now ride evolved gradually. David and Wagner formed the group in 2001 when they were juniors at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax. Since then, the lineup has evolved several times over the course of their collegiate years until it finally settled on this current incarnation nearly a year ago, welcoming another Robinson grad, Riddile, to the fold.
Generating the band’s current sound was an easier process for David, who has always favored alternative rock music. And when he added the electronic drums, he found a formula that worked well with them and is capable of winning over droves of fans.
“A Whole New Brand of Hero” was the first tune David set to remaking with their new backbeat, a track that’s served as a bit of a banner track for the band, doubling as a description of their sound. It was a sound that became that much more potent with the switch.
“There’s a lot more freedom in creating a beat that isn’t confined to just a drum set,” David says. “I feel the sound is more interesting. It really freshens up our sound. And when I hear beats in my head, I always envision it with an electronic feel.”
Another notable track is “The Next Attraction,” for which the band shot an original video wherein David and Co., flaunting the fake instruments of video game Rock Band, reproduced a slew of celebrated on-stage dance moves before a very rock and roll grand finale — bashing the plastic props into small, useless but extremely cool bits. The tune itself is also notable, with a driving rhythm and scream-out-loud caliber chorus that lingers long after the song has ended.
“Whenever I’d write songs, I’d always envision some of my favorite rock songs that I enjoyed playing along with, and I really wanted to capture that feeling,” David says. “A lot of our songs are going to be upbeat because I really enjoy performing.”
All in all, the band blends elements of many groups, from mildly-distorted vocals that remind listeners of Nine Inch Nails, a Fallout Boy-like bouncy, if not danceable rock beat and just a general loudness that recalls Filter in their prime.
Local enthusiasts will get the opportunity to check out the potential of, well, The Potentials when the band takes the stage at the State Theatre July 31 at 8 p.m., opening for fellow local band, The War Within. Miss them that time and you can try again Aug. 27 at Jammin’ Java as part of Thursday Night Glow, presented by Sound Vault Entertainment.
• For more on The Potentials, visit www.myspace.com/thepotentials. Tickets for the State Theatre show are $10 in advance and $12 the day of the show. Tickets for Jammin’ Java are $10.