The four founding members of Small Brown Bike grew up together in the small town of Marshall, Michigan. When brothers Mike and Ben Reed, and friends, Travis Dopp, and Dan Jaquint were looking for a band name in 1996, they ultimately decided on Small Brown Bike, after an old bike they had pieced together from spare parts in their younger days. Small Brown Bike self-recorded and released their first demo tape in 1997. The tape included four songs recorded in the house they rented in East Lansing, Michigan. Small Brown Bike played shows around the Midwest and shared the stage with bands like At the Drive In, Jimmy Eat World, The Get Up Kids, Hot Water Music, Alkaline Trio, Cursive, and more.
After self-releasing their No Place Like You 7″ in 1997 and (And Don’t Forget Me) 7″ in 1998, the band attracted the attention of Gainesville, Florida’s No Idea Records. In 1999, No Idea released Own Own Wars CD/LP and the band began to receive national attention. The band also released Collection CD/LP (a collection of their demo tape and first two 7″s) in 1999. Later that year, Travis Dopp stepped down from guitar and Scott Flaster took over. In 2000, the band landed an opening spot on tour with Hot Water Music and Saves the Day and played in front of their biggest audiences yet.
In between tours in 2000, Small Brown Bike entered the studio with Ed Rose (The Get Up Kids, Coalesce) to record their second CD/LP, Dead Reckoning for No Idea Records. Later that year, Dopp returned to the band and in 2001, the band embarked on a co-headlining tour with Cursive and later released a split 7″ with them. In March 2001, Jeff Gensterblum replaced Dan Jaquint on drums and the band immediately hit the road for a five-week U.S. tour with Hot Water Music and Leatherface.
In 2002, the band returned to the studio to work with Ed Rose on a collaborative split EP with The Casket Lottery on Second Nature Recordings. The culmination of the project was a three-week tour featuring Small Brown Bike, The Casket Lottery, and Rocky Votolato in 2003.
It was during this time that Small Brown Bike caught the attention of Berkeley, California-based Lookout! Records. The band entered the studio with Dave Feeny (The White Stripes, Thunderbirds are Now) and began working on new music. After releasing the Nail Yourself to the Ground EP on No Idea and playing a sold-out show at Gilman Street in 2003, the band signed with Lookout! to release their next CD/LP, The River Bed, in September 2003.
“Small Brown Bike caught my ear with their unique blend of aggressive and intelligent punk rock, with an honest sweetness thrown in. They’re a smart, witty group of guys who simply work hard and love music.” – Cathy Bauer, Lookout! Records General Manager
But the years of touring were beginning to take their toll. Small Brown Bike announced their break-up at the end of 2003 and played their last show at the Fireside Bowl in Chicago in January 2004.
In 2006, Small Brown Bike reunited to play four benefit shows to raise money for a close friend who was diagnosed with leukemia. All six former members played on their respective songs. The band did one more show in 2006 at The Fest 6 in Gainesville to reunite with their old label and play in front of a sold-out crowd of over 1,000.
In the summer of 2009, emails circulated between the founding members. With no formal plan, they traded MP3’s and scheduled a practice. The chemistry was evident as they charged through the new songs. The musical connection between them was still strong. The band booked a few shows for the second half of 2009 including a return to The Fest 8 in Gainesville.
In the fall of 2009, the band released their first new music in six years. “Composite Volume One” 7″ was self-recorded by the band, mixed with Dave Feeny at Tempermill, and released on No Idea Records.
Small Brown Bike is working on new songs and playing weekend dates and festivals. The band plans to schedule more shows in the future and enter the studio in 2010 to record an album.
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