Beyond Conception rocks it family style

BEYOND CONCEPTION (Joseph Espiritu/Lariat News)

Tim White

At some point in high school, a majority of us either participated in a rock band or know somebody who did. As American as apple pie and deficit spending, teenage garage bands have been manifesting epic guitar riffs and awful hairstyles since Billy Hays rocked around the clock.

From lack of talent, funding and/or motivation, it’s a rarity for one of these buddy bands to get their first gig. A few, however, have the tenacity to keep it together. Six years after first getting together to share their talents, Beyond Conception is preparing to record its second album.

“We’re just four brothers playing music,” said Matt Abrams, 21, Dana Point. Only two of them are truly related, but the idea is clear as they are brothers in the musical sense.

Formed in 2003, the band consists of Abrams and his brother, Justin, 23, Laguna Niguel; Blake Kennedy, 23, Laguna Niguel; and Clint Armstrong, 24, Dana Point, a 2005 Saddleback alumnus. Justin fronts the band on vocals, the keyboard and occasionally a rhythm guitar. He is backed by Kennedy on lead guitar and Matt, his brother, on bass. Armstrong sits at the drums, playing off of tight jazz roots, punctuated by quintessential Mick Fleetwood-style solos.

“We search deep and wide for our influences,” said Kennedy.

Their MySpace page pays homage to a laundry list of greats, from Chet Atkins to the Rolling Stones and Kings of Leon. The center of attention falls on the high-energy performance of Justin, specifically his driving piano chords. Unusual in the modern rock setting, Justin’s key work completes the classic yet unique sound that defines the band.

The only disappointment is in their current CD. It’s a great album, with killer tracks like “Dancing” and “Playing in the Sandbox,” but the studio recordings lack the gritty edge that comes out in front of a live audience. It’s that edge that the Stones defined and the Beatles lamented.

“Our music has matured quite a bit in the last three years [since the first album],” said Armstrong, “[the new album] is going to change the way people define music.”

Pre-production work is done for the new album and studio recordings should begin right around the time this hits the newsstands. Look for the new album this summer, boasting 11 fresh tracks that tap into the spirit of their live performances.

For more information on upcoming shows, visit or

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