Become a Groupie... everyone is doing it
By Brenda Fortin
PLYMOUTH — “What does every band want?” asks Britney Conway. “Groupies” is the obvious answer, and that is how the name for the popular local cover-band Groupies Wanted came to exist.
It may be said that Josh Ortiz is the heartbeat of this band, as its drummer, but Conway is the creative mastermind behind the catchy name.
Groupies Wanted began to take shape in 2006 when Conway and Ortiz decided they wanted to work on a musical project together. The two met a few years prior, through their interest in music, and had eventually become better acquainted while both performing in a band that was called Citizen Bob. As the idea for Groupies Wanted gradually began to blossom, a third member, Matt Girres joined in on the fun.
Girres feels fortunate to have been able to support himself over the years solely doing what he loves most. Upon returning from Minneapolis after attending Music Tech (currently known as Smith McNally School of Music), he has enjoyed working as a full-time musician.
Girres says appreciatively, “Music has been my constant companion.”
When he is not performing out live with Groupies Wanted, Girres works giving lessons at Wagoner’s Music Shop in Plymouth, or can be found on Facebook under “Guitar Lessons with Matt Girres.” He has also enjoyed assisting churches and schools with achieving musical goals in the Plymouth, Culver and Argos areas. He has been playing guitar for the past 22 years and also writes music. He and Ortiz have collaborated on writing in the past for the band Pokerface Ace and they hope to find time in the future to write together again.
Girres and Ortiz have been long-time friends, meeting “many moons ago” as Ortiz puts it, and becoming close when Girres joined Ortiz’s former wildly-popular band, Pokerface Ace. Ortiz began playing the drums at age 12 while living in Louisiana. Originating from the New Orleans area, he was initially influenced more by the local flavor of jazz, until moving to Indiana and joining the school marching band in 1993. As rock and metal-style music became more of interest to Ortiz, he joined his first “gigging” band at age 16. He’s been a part of, or filled-in with, numerous bands over the years; such as Titanium, Hydra, Migraine, Pokerface Ace, Citizen Bob, Dirt Cheap and Straightaway, to name a few. Ortiz has spent a great deal of time on the live music scene and has witnessed the changes that have produced significant challenges for musicians.
Right or wrong, arguably marketing may be more significant in the world of entertainment than talent. Over the years live music seems to have taken a backseat to house style music, or a DJ, within the club scene.
“Marketing is paramount for working cover-bands,” claims Ortiz. “Fifteen years ago gigs were plentiful. It wasn’t very hard to find dates for a decent band and they paid very well. Things have changed recently. The amount of bands out there is still the same, but their opportunities are limited. Bands have to hustle to get decent crowds.”
When attempting to get yourself noticed, it certainly does not hurt to have a beautiful redheaded vixen, with ranging vocals, fronting your band. Britney Conway is the primary vocalist for Groupies Wanted. She says, “I cannot remember a time I was not in love with music, singing and dancing. Before I was in a band, I would go to see other bands. I would always think, ‘I need to do this! I want to make people feel, how I feel right now!’”
Since Groupies Wanted appeared to be a successful venture together, in July of 2010 Conway and Ortiz decided to pack-up Girres and head to Las Vegas for a new project…marriage. Girres was present as Conway and Ortiz vowed not only to be musically devoted to one another, but to take the bigger plunge and join their lives forever.
Thee three original members of Groupies Wanted each referred to one another as “family” when interviewed and the trip to Vegas made this official. There is mutual respect and a strong camaraderie among the band members that often appears to be absent in musical endeavors, due to what has been called “creative differences.” Girres comments, “Music has taught me so many valuable lessons, and has introduced me to the ones I now call family.” Conway seconds this sentiment, “I love my band-mates; they’re like having a built-in family. We are together so often, it starts to feel like we are siblings.”
Ortiz and Conway have an admirable work ethic, despite the potential conflicts that working with a spouse can produce. Ortiz says, “Working with a spouse is both rewarding and at the same time extremely trying. It’s great because it is a passion we both share and we set out to do this together. Part of being a professional is being able to take a hard look at yourself and realize where there’s room for improvement. Critical self-analysis is something I’ve done in every successful band I’ve ever been a part of.”
Conway finds great satisfaction working with Ortiz but acknowledges some of the difficulties, “He’s a little head strong about things at times but I feel it is because he strives for the best product to put out on the stage. I respect that he puts so much into our project.”
It would seem that there could be some serious expectations when joining such a tightknit family, but Jeremy Yost is up for the challenge. Yost, originally from Bourbon and a former student of Girres, recently joined Groupies Wanted as its bassist. Though Groupies Wanted is Yost’s first band his father is a musician and therefore music has always been central in his life. Yost is an accomplished bassist, vocalist, guitarist and drummer.
Groupies Wanted appears to have managed the perfect blend of talent, personalities and ambition. They are booked just about every weekend in one of the local entertainment establishments and they have a large contingent of groupies that follow. They strive to please their fans and you would be doing yourself a favor to catch them live. You can find more information about the band on Facebook under “Groupies Wanted.” If you miss their New Year’s Eve celebration at The Wabash Tavern on Dec. 31, then you can also catch them in 2012 on Jan. 7 at The Bremen Café; 21st at The Dandelion Bar or Feb. 4 in Warsaw at Rex’s Rendezvous.
Become a “Groupie”… everyone’s doing it.