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0000017c-60f7-de77-ad7e-f3f739cf0000Arts & More airs Fridays at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.Theme music: "Like A Beginner Again" by Dan Barry of Seas of Jupiter

Energetic Grand Rapids Band AOK To Collaborate On New Album

AOK_officialimage.jpg
courtesy of AOK
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The Grand Rapids band AOK is known for its energy on stage. It combines R&B vocals, electronica, and electric guitar into something you can’t help but dance to. Guitarist Kyle Sullivan and vocalist Angela Teeple say that energy can be infectious.

“People see how much we’re putting into it and we’re moving,” says Sullivan.

“It's an invitation to get as weird as you want," adds Teeple

AOK will perform Friday, April 22nd at Bell's Brewery. The show starts at 9 p.m.

The main duo in the band, Sullivan and Teeple, say their different writing styles are the key to creating the band’s unique sound. Sullivan remembers one of the first songs they wrote together, called Paper Mache:

"I had pretty much done a completely instrumental track with the guitar and everything. And then when Angela wrote her vocal to it, it was like completely…nothing I would have written or thought of you know. So that was just the moment where I was like ‘Ok, yeah this is great because then you’re bringing something that…’ And it’s every song. I won’t even tell you sometimes, but I’ll come up with a vocal idea, but won’t show it to her. And then she’ll come up with something totally different and way better. I love it.”

Teeple and Sullivan live in Grand Rapids now, but they grew up in Traverse City. They’ve gone to school together since grade school, but they didn’t become a band until they got into college. Actually, separate colleges - Sullivan went to Michigan State University and Teeple went to Grand Valley State.

AOK_long.mp3
Hear a longer interview with Kyle Sullivan and Angela Teeple

Sullivan formed a cover band called Egon and then Teeple jumped in. The band primarily played funk, jam, R&B, and classic rock covers.

“Kyle and some mutual friends had a band and I sort of weaseled my way into it. I’m pretty sure I just asked if I could be in it like a jerk,” Teeple jokes.

“She started out singing like one or two songs and then quickly became the lead singer,” says Sullivan. 

A lot has happened for the band in the past year or so. They got a drummer, Johnny Tornga. Teeple says he’s helped the band to translate a lot of that recorded electronic music to the stage.

“It changes the energy definitely. Having a live drummer can change how we interact with one another and also how the crowd interacts. I think that just being able to see someone hitting a drum, it might help them help the crowd understand how to move to the music.

AOK also signed with a small Grand Rapids record label called Hot Capicola. Hot Capicola oversees just five bands. Teeple says being on a smaller label has helped them feel like more than just a number.

“Luke is everything that we’re not - he’s super organized. He really handles the management, the business end of it well for us. But he approached us and we were kind of hesitant. I guess we didn’t understand really what that meant to sign to something. But he came at it with a really open approach, a very honest approach and said like, ‘I want what’s best for you guys and if at any point you’re not feeling that way, we can dissolve this. And so we just kind of had to put trust in each other and it’s worked out really well.”

The band is working on a new album. Sullivan says they don’t know when that will be out, but they’re gearing up to record soon. This next album is going to be all about collaboration, they say. Teeple says they’re planning to get help from artist Tunde Olaniran out of Flint and the group Gosh Pith out of Detroit.

“They write and record at this placed called ‘Assemble’ in Detroit and we were invited to work on a couple of our songs over there. It’s a very collaborative effort and I think that our goal is to continue to learn and develop our songwriting craft and working with other producers. As we mentioned earlier it’s just the two of us and what we really want to do is just start collaborating with more artists. Get new ideas and start sort of adding some polish to the ideas that we have. Getting some different feedback, some different collaboration and new production so that we can take it to that next level.”

AOK will open for Flint Eastwood on Friday, April 22nd along with The Outer Vibe and The Class Acts.

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Rebecca Thiele was an environmental reporter and producer of Arts & More for WMUK. She worked at the station from 2011 to 2019.
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