Third Class began as a product of three feral “children” who were adopted by kind parents and given instruments but no musical instruction. Over one hundred and twelve years of what might be called practice – but which also could be called the reinvention of music – the three wild children, locked in a padded room, broke guitar strings and keyboards and drumheads, rebuilding and innovating the tools of their craft until the instruments they used had no hope of being readily recognizable to modern musicians but rather seemed like weapons and torture devices from the future. At first, the music they made with their sci-fi nuitars and kianos was partially recognizable as noise, though would never be categorized as music, at least not by humans. However, over a period of thirty-seven decades, the children, who had since grown into young “men” and had left their padded room, developed a musical styling which was not wholly unbearable to others. In fact, with time and repeated exposure, some even began to enjoy the music which those who later became known as Third Class produced.
But, seriously, the band formed in 1999 in East Palestine, Ohio where brothers, Lee and Jack Boyle, with friend, Pepe Parish, played their first show in a living room. In the years to come, they performed at Cedars Lounge and other venues in Youngstown, Ohio’s general area, as well as many basement, living room and barn shows, and self-recorded four demo albums (now out of print) at the Boyle Residence. They were featured on the local NBC News while playing their first “battle of the bands” competition and received airplay on a program called Backyard Bands on Youngstown’s 98.9 FM. They also received a small review in The Morning Journal in East Palestine for their performance at a high school talent show. In 2004, the band played the first Nouveau Rock Festival, an indie-music showcase hosted by locals, The Zou, in Youngstown. In 2005, Third Class embarked on a modest tour to pass out demos and perform in New York City and in Long Island, New York. They received interviews published in Youngstown’s The Jambar which revered the band for a “fierce independent streak.” Then, in 2006, the band played shows in Akron, Wooster, Bowling Green and Kent, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Louisville, Kentucky. A couple months after an interview on Kent State University’s Black Squirrel Radio online, Third Class recorded their first studio album, Chloe’s Epitaph Is Chloe, at Ampreon Recorder with renowned Youngstown engineer and musician, Pete Drivere. Youngstown’s The Walruss called the album “an attempt to classify [an] idiosyncratic sound” and Youngstown’s The Vindicator deemed Third Class “a band to be reckoned with in Northeast Ohio.” To promote the album, the band played numerous Ohio shows, such as in Cleveland, Youngstown and Alliance, Ohio as well as in Philadelphia, Sharon and Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, Cleveland, Tennessee and Louisville, Kentucky. The band received airplay from 93.3’s The Homegrown Show in Youngstown and Ruckus Radio online, as well as write-ups in The Salem News in Salem, Ohio and Youngstown’s Valley24.com. In 2009, Third Class released their second studio album, The Red Wheelbarrow, recorded at Ampreon, which The Voice of Wooster, Ohio called “an intellectual pursuit.” Write-ups followed from Youngstown’s Valley24.com, The Vindicator, MRNspace.com, Tribtoday.com, The Salem News and Jambrain.com. Third Class received airplay from unsigned-artist radio stations online, Westsidewill Radio and JFL: The Mixx, and an online pod cast interview by Saw Kick Media of Cleveland, Ohio. During the same period of time, Jack’s poetry was published in The Salt River Review online and he was accepted into graduate school with a teaching assistantship. Lee’s poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in Off The Coast in Robbinston, Maine, Abbey in Columbia, Maryland, Leveler online and Advocate in Prattsville, New York. Third Class proceeded to play shows in their regular routes and included shows in Geneva-On-The-Lake, Columbus and Athens, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By 2010, Third Class’ albums were available in a variety of places including online stores such as iTunes, Napster, and CDBaby. Local stores, Indie Wax in Youngstown, Dave’s Music Mine in Pittsburgh, Square Records in Akron, Turn-Up Records and Spin-More Records in Kent, Ohio, started carrying the albums. Dyno Records in Newburyport, Massachusetts and Madgirl World in Portland, Maine gave away free copies of the albums and the band had played their seventh consecutive Nouveau Rock Festival in Youngstown. In 2010, Third Class began premiering newer songs at local venues such as The Lemon Grove and Cedars Lounge in Youngstown, as well as The Black Cherry in Toledo, Ohio and Boney’s Nite Club in Eastpointe, Michigan. They also received airplay on online radio station Rukus Radio and had their music featured in a play, entitled Love Song, performed in Youngstown State University’s theatre.
Third Class’ style is best-described as indie pop or alternative rock. The trio wields a 5-piece drum set with a boxy sound, a four-string bass guitar tuned to the notes F, A, C and high F, a cheap keyboard and a 2-string guitar tuned to a mid-range C and G. The band rotates instruments, oftentimes with Lee on the keyboard, or guitar, and lead vocals and with Jack and Pepe taking turns on drums, bass and back-up vocals. The lyrics are often written in a stream-of-consciousness style with crooning vocals which go frequently out of Lee’s comfortable range. The keyboard licks are reminiscent of piano in up-tempo musicals. The drums are an undulation of tempo and complex patterns. The bass is slippery and usually distorted. The guitar plays mostly a twang of power chords.