Music Beat: Cycles

Cycles is a Denver-based jam band that met in Fort Collins back in 2015. The three members moved into a house together in Denver and started a band.

With only three members, Cycles is a rare jam power-trio that creates a full sound because each member has a unique approach to his instrument. Patrick Harvey enhances his guitar playing with a pedal loop, which he has turned into his own. Tucker McClung dominates a slap-bass style, giving the band a heartbeat while also belting out most of the lyrics. And, last but not least, Michael Wood backs the band with a drum style that displays his ability to mix funky hip-hop beats with frantic rock riffs.

Cycles comes together as a band and forms a clean and cohesive sound. They have played at the Belly Up about once a year since their inception and they will be back again Saturday to play their first weekend-headlining show, which is free as long as you get there before 10:30 p.m.

I had the opportunity to talk to Michael Wood last week while he was enjoying his last few days at home before heading out on the road. He had just gotten a massage and says that a lot of drummers get massages.

“Something about playing drums is kind of an unbalanced thing,” says Wood, “because you are crossing over and using one hand more than the other and you get whacked out after playing a lot.”

After all three members moved to Denver back in 2015 they scored a weekly gig at a place called Tony P’s. The regular gig was great for them because they were able to play live all the time and try out new material.

“From the beginning, we were all coming from different places musically,” says Wood. “In a lot of ways, we still are, which is hard but it's been a process of finding the areas which we all naturally crossover and those areas naturally are what sounds best and what people respond to.”

One of the toughest parts of being a jam band with only three members is filling all the space within the music. To create a fuller sound, their guitar player uses a looper on every song, but with a pedal system rather than a laptop, the way live-electronic bands use it.

“Forcing ourselves to fill space has forced us to do things we wouldn’t normally do,” says Wood. “At first we were thinking about maybe finding a keyboard player but I’m glad we didn’t because I think it made us more original. Looping was something that Pat hadn’t done in the past and he really made it his own. The way he uses it is super signature at this point. I haven’t seen anyone use the pedal the way he does.”

Cycles focuses on large shows now and they are on the road so much they can no longer sustain a residency at any particular club. They don’t want to oversaturate themselves and they want to be able to play the larger venues in Denver.

Since they have gotten their name out into the jam-circuit, Cycles has been playing around 130 shows per year. Being on the road is what they love to do, but there are hardships.

“When you play in front of a big crowd and it goes well, that is the best feeling in the world,” says Wood. “But touring can be ungrounding; you are uprooted and it’s hard. All the reasons that you could imagine that it would be hard are there, but you get good at it.”

Cycles has found their niche and they will only grow from where they are. One of their favorite places to play is the Belly Up and this weekend they will bring everything they’ve got.

For only three members, their sound is large, epitomized by their slashing guitar, heavy bass grooves and dynamic drum beats that all melt together through intricate tempo transformations.

“WAGRRRRWWGAHHHHWWWRRGGAWWWWWWRR,” was probably the best thing Chewbacca ever said, in John Zelazny’s opinion. He appreciates your comments at zelazny@aspendailynews.com.