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Early Jitters is a rock and roll studio band from Dallas, Texas and Jacksonville, Florida. It is helmed by band leader Sam Roden who is also the lyricist and lead guitarist.
Early Jitters was originally comprised of Sam, bass player and vocalist, Gregory (G.G.) Grant, drummer Lito de la Cruz and the late Carlos Serrano, lyricist. The band occasionally changes members as needed for recording in the studio. Most of Early Jitters' music is produced and engineered by Mike McClain of McClain Recording Studio in Garland, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.
Early Jitters' earlier incarnation was in 1985 as Felony and the No Binks Band, with then guitarist and vocalist, Danny Anderson. The first album was titled, Early Jitters. Due to an error on an early rejection notice from Capitol Records, in which the name of the album, Early Jitters, was featured rather than the band name, the band decided to keep the name Early Jitters.
Early Jitters has a song list of over 30 songs. Over half the songs are collaborations of Carlos Serrano's lyrics set to music by Sam Roden. Many of the songs go back to the 1980's when Carlos and Sam were roommates in Dallas. He and Sam were chums since grade school growing up in Jacksonville. All of the band members met in grade school in Westside, in Jacksonville, Florida. They are all proud of their roots in Jacksonville, and are quick to point out that Jacksonville was also the hometown of other great bands like Lynard Skynard, .38 Special and Molly Hatchet, all bands that got their start playing the roadhouse and bar circuit in Florida.
To the late lyricist Carlos Serrano, it was more about the message and not the beat. He was five years old when he picked up his first musical instrument, but in the end he only wrote songs. "I grew up with Molly Hatchet in Westside, Jacksonville," he used to say with pride. He grew up idolizing the song writing duo of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. He was born in Bogota, Colombia, but his family soon moved to Jacksonville where his dad works as a doctor and his mom is a nurse.
Carlos' favorite musician was Led Zeppelin's legendary guitarist, Jimmy Page. When Carlos was not writing songs he was painting cars. With his usual flair for words, he would proclaim, "I'm to an auto spray gun what Jimmy Page is to a guitar." He also loved to watch action packed movies during his down time.
Sam tells a story of how Carlos was drinking in a bar in Jacksonville one evening, and was preparing to go to a Ted Nugent concert. A patron at the bar said he wished he could go, but he didn't have the money for a ticket. Carlos said, "Come on then. I'll buy you a ticket." Another man at the bar told Carlos he would like to go, too. Before too long, Carlos ended up taking nearly a dozen people to the concert with him, paying for all their tickets. You might say Carlos was the live wire of the band, always brimming with excitement and full of the joy of living. Carlos' advice to young people interested in the music business was, "Don't ever stop - pursue your dreams until they become a reality." Carlos is sorely missed.
Bass player and vocalist Gregory Grant, or "G.G." as his friends know him was born in Dallas, Texas and raised in Jacksonville. He was 9 years-old when he picked up his first musical instrument. He plays guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. When asked what it was like for a young musician growing up in Jacksonville, he replies, "Back then for some reason everyone knew how to play Stairway to Heaven." As a youngster he idolized Glen Campbell. Now he really loves the newer Christian bands, like the heavy metal Christian bands, Skillett and Demon Hunter, the Christian rock band Fireflight and the Christian contemporary music band, Tenth Avenue North. Regarding the Christian bands he enjoys listening to, G.G. says, "The list goes on and on."
G.G. also met Sam and the other band members in grade school in Westside, Jacksonville. Sam says some of his earliest memories of being inspired by music were as a 6th grader after school sitting with G.G. under his older brother Karl's window as he spun albums by Cream, Grand Funk Railroad, Steppenwolf, Led Zeppelin, The Who and Black Sabbath, among others. G.G. says that even though he and Sam have lived 2000 miles apart for the last 25 years, Sam has remained one of his longest standing friends in his life.
G.G. does most of his recording at home using his digital 4-track. When asked how the music differs now from when he first began playing, he replies, "The music now is a lot more polished and expertly recorded, but sometimes I still wait to hear the cracks and pops like years ago when the needle dropped onto the vinyl."
When G.G. is not playing music or working at his job as a policeman (where he is known locally as "the cop that rocks") he enjoys hanging out with his adult children and taking care of his granddaughter, Kaylin. He also enjoys running and riding motorcycles. When asked what advice he would give to young people trying to break into the music business, he replies, "Play, play and play. Don't let anyone or anything slow you down."
Drummer Lito de la Cruz was born in Cavite City, Philippines before his family moved to Jacksonville. He began playing at age 14 and idolized such musicians as Robert Plant, John Bonham, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
"Growing up in a poor country as a kid, I had no resources or instruments for self-expression," he says. "It wasn't until I moved to the States that I was able to buy records and my first cheap, drum kit to play along with the records. Music was one thing I had with which I could relate to others."
Even though Lito currently counts among his favorite performers the "old guys" like Jeff Beck and Robert Plant, he also likes watching the new drummers perform: drummers such as Aaron Spears, Dave Weckl, Simon Phillips, Steve Morse, Thomas Lang and Steve Gadd; "Basically any monster player," he says. "I can't name the new bands out there today, but I like anything I can groove to."
When asked how the music scene now differs from when first began playing years ago, he replies, "Better equipment! Although, with the advent of all this new media, watching live music seems to have lost some of its luster and mystery." When he's not playing music, other pastimes include listening to music or being in the outdoors. When asked what advice he would give to young people who are pursuing careers in music, he replies, "Learn to actually play an instrument! Guitar Hero and Wii are not the same!"
Leader of the band, lyricist and guitarist Sam Roden picked up his first musical instrument at the age of 8 when he tried his hand at his sister's electrical organ. He bought his first guitar, an Ibanez, at the age of 15. His favorite musician is Slash, formerly of the now defunct rock band, Guns & Roses. Other current favorites include Joe Perry and Jimmy Page. As a teenager growing up in Westside, Jacksonville he was inspired by the local neighborhood garage band, Cold War, helmed by Jacksonville local drummer and singer, Fred Bianco, now with the band Fratello. Sam was also a big fan in his youth of such bands as Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and The Beatles. "I was listening to a lot of British rock and always trying to get a jam session together," he says. That's how he reconnected musically with his Early Jitters band mates, trying to organize jam sessions in Westside.
Sam says the whole songwriting process is just part of everyday life to him. Sam loves to write songs and hopefully create art in the process. "The melodies just come to me," Sam says. "It's similar to throwing paint on a canvas and seeing what you come up with." Sam may often be found in his pajamas in his cabana in his backyard in Dallas, at 5 AM in the morning, drinking a cup of coffee and strumming his acoustical guitar, coming up with a new song. Sam is inspired by his wife, Sally, his children, and the normal to sometimes extreme situations he encounters in life as a Texas wildcatter. "Creating music is such a huge release for me," Sam explains.
When asked how the music scene differs now from when he was growing up in Jacksonville, Sam say, "It's so much better now with computers and the Internet because you can own your own label for a relatively low price and not be so dependent on the major studios." Sam has been recording songs at McClain Recording Studio for over twenty-five years. He and Mike McClain have recorded some of Sam's best songs in the recording studio located in Garland, with Mike producing and engineering the songs.
During his off hours Sam enjoys playing golf, working out in the gym and winding down with a glass of wine. Sam's advice to young musicians trying to break into the business would be, "Keep writing songs, have a real plan and stick to it, and promote yourself."
What would your last meal be if you were on Death Row?
Carlos: "A slab of baby back ribs, a loaded baked potato and a glass of sweet tea."
G.G.: "Whatever would be the hardest thing for them to prepare, although that is so unlike me."
Lito: "Steak and lobster."
Sam: "Grilled fish, grits, collard greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread."
What is one thing that is always in your refrigerator?
G.G.: "Water, and a lot of food. My son is 6'3" and man, does he eat."
Lito: "Coffee... no, beer."
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