Tracking Tru Sol can be a bit chaotic. With seven band members juggling schedules, three or four practice sessions a week and constant shows, wedddings and commercial gigs, it can be tough to pin down the group that has become known as one of the area's premier party bands.
But when you do get a chance to catch up with the Conway-based musical "family" that is Tru Sol, there's no denying the thing that has made them a hit with audiences all over the Grand Strand.
It the persistent positivity and love of what they do that keeps this group of multi-talented musicians moving forward, bringing with them a vivacious live show full of covers of everything from soul classics to modern R&B and pop tunes.
ListenUp sat down recently with band president — and guitarist — Dorian Samuels and lead vocalist Sheryta Spears to talk about what Tru Sol has accomplished in 6 years together, how they have dealt with adversity and where they plan to go in the new year. Here’s what they had to say:
Myrtle Beach Muisc: Dorian Samuels
Myrtle Beach Music: Sheryta Spears
First off, for folks who might not know, tell me a little about how Tru Sol came together?
Dorian: Basically, the short version is that Sheryta, she had been singing in groups and things and she wanted to pursue her dream. The rest of us guys all of us came from musical families and being that we all grew up in churches and making music and building a relationships that way we just came together to support her. It was just like “Hey, let’s give it a try!”
You all just celebrated your 6th anniversary as a band, what’s it been like to play together that long and how has the band changed since it’s inception?
Dorian: It’s been hard you know, from the beginning nothing ever quite goes as planned, but we started with dreams and we still got them.
We may have lost a lot of members for whatever reason but we’re still standing strong. Bishop, Shertya, Billy and me have been the main foundation since day one. We have grown to believe that we can do this and ain’t nothing stopping us from doing it.
It’s like we started out as a dream, and now it’s a reality, and I think a lot of times people don't understand that you can make your dreams become reality. I just thank God that we came together like we did and are able to support each other as a family. When you got 13 people like when did when we started, that you have a big support system for believing in yourself.
And while the numbers might have gotten smaller for each person going out and doing his or her own thing, in the end it only helped the faith in each other grow.
How have you managed to stay so in sync and on the same page both musically and professionally with seven-plus band members?
Catch them live
Upcoming Tru Sol show dates:
Friday, Dec. 17 | 9 p.m. at Cooter's Backyard Bar & Grill in Murrells Inlet
Saturday, Dec. 18 | 9 p.m. at Handleys Pub & Grub in Carolina Forest
Dorian: Man, we just do it for the love of the music. When we up there on stage it’s not about the money for us. I mean the fact that we can do this for a living helps, but we started off for the love. It was like we just go out and have fun doing what we love and before you know it we started to get paid.
But really what we want is to touch every person in the audience. Black, white, rich or poor, it don’t matter what you’re going through, we just try to take you away from that for a bit and get you into what Tru Sol is doing.
Sheryta: I think with seven people on stage, it makes easy to deal with things because when you’re up there nobody wants to see anyone else fail, so we make sure the next person is on point. And that one of the things that keeps us grounded. It could be just two of us out there and it would still be the same type of vibe because we love what we do and love each other.
You guys have played a lot of shows locally, what do you do to make sure that things remain fresh and you’re not just performing the same show over and over?
Dorian: We kind of play to the crowd, which can be a a hard thing to do when you’re playing covers. But we switch up. It’s like we do a show where we plan everything out and it goes in order but then we end up changing how it goes depending on the mood.
And we do a lot of weddings, so to be able to do weddings you gotta learn new songs and keep up with some of the more modern stuff as well as the classics.
Also, we’ll wrap back around sometimes and put things into a different set, because we’ll play all night and a lot of folks don’t stay the whole time, so things change from the first to third set. It’s like they might not have been ready to get down and party the first time, but by the third set it’s all good.
And how does the crowd influence the music that you play?
Dorian: Oh man, just to see the smiles and the joy of folks up and happy and dancing. Nothing beats that.
Sheryta: Or even some folks not giving any expression...that means they must be listening.
Dorian: Yeah, we used to go to these shows and people be sitting there and we’d go backstage afterward and think “What do we need to do to get these folks involved?” And then we realized that even though some folks may not be getting up and moving, they are enjoying us just by being there.
We take everything on the positive note and like to think that as long as folks are coming out to see us they are having a good time.
I noticed Sheryta was featured on The Necessary Band’s new album. What’s your take on collaborating with other local talent like that?
Sheryta: You know, I almost forgot I did that. Not really, but it’s been awhile. I gotta get out and get me a copy, because I want to hear it.
Check out our review of The Necessary Band's "Now You Got Two," with sample songs here.
In the studio, it was just kind of like whatever ... I put down on the track they were happy, and I was like “You sure, you don’t need me to come back in and change something?” They were so easy to work with. Just like Ten Toes Up, they were easy like that. I did a track with them a number of years ago and I just love that song.
But yeah, I’m just privileged to even be called for things like that. There’s a lot of great female vocalists around here and for them to think of me of all the female vocalists is great.
Dorian: Plus, on the business side of things, that’s just good marketing and helps Tru Sol get noticed by a different crowd.
Sheryta: That’s not why I did it, but yeah, it helps.
It seems to me that there’s a trend around this area toward bands opting to work more original music into their cover sets. How does Tru Sol balance its originals vs. covers?
Dorian: We still have to go back and revise of some of our original stuff. Playing covers so much like Tru Sol does, people get so used to hearing stuff they know, that it’s can kind of be recieve as weird or strange when we throw our own stuff in the mix. But this year we want to do a lot more original stuff.
Sheryta: We’ve had a whole originals ready to go almost since we started, but we’ve often felt like it wasn’t the right time to put it out. I mean, we wrote them and did the music and it’s hot — we think they are hits — but we just feel like if we let them marinate a bit longer and add little enhancements or bits of things here and there then we’ve got a better chance that other people might think they are hits too.
We have a lot of material and we’d like to do more of it on stage, but on the other hand when it comes to making an album we just don’t want to throw something out there. We don’t want to be one of those bands that just keeps putting out stuff, when we make an album we want it to stick and be something we can sit on and sell for three or four years.
And where are you at in the process of putting out an album of Tru Sol material?
Dorian: What’s gonna happen is that we started with 13 members and we’ve lost keyboard players, lead singers, you name it. But now we’re down to the foundation, the final four of us — plus a few other members that play with us — that are gonna stick it out.
That’s been the hesitation really, it’s like every time we lose a member then we have to go back and regroup and reassess some things.
But right now, we’re taking some time and in January and February we’ll go into the studio and rehearse, we’ll create two all new shows and try to record some material. Also, we want folks to know that we are looking for a keyboard player to complete the band and help round out the sound that we want.
Myrtle Beach Music: Tru Sol
Around here winter can be a tough time for musicians. Do you guys approach things differently this time of year or have you reached the point where it doesn’t really matter?
Dorian: It don’t effect us at all. We’ve been blessed to be able to take two months off to recharge. We want to do some things and we play around the area so much that we the fans to stay hungry, so it’s just time for us to take a step back, let folks miss us a little and come back with two new shows hitting the Grand Strand hard for the new year.
But we definitely don’t have a problem with working hard all year long, this has been how we make our living for the past six years and we’re proud of that.
What do you think has been the key to becoming successful with your music?
Dorian: One of the main things is we have one main singer, Sheryta, but you also have all of us singing so you don't get the same sound all night. We’re always changing styles and sounds and instruments — I’ll be switching from guitar to bass — to keep the crowd involved in the show.
One thing people don’t realize is that we try to act as a DJ and constantly keep the music going. Sometimes we might throw two or three different songs into a medley and just keep it moving along.
What kind of advice about making music and growing a fanbase in this area can you offer to bands & artists who might just be starting out on the Grand Strand?
Sheryta: For one thing, you gotta be humble and never get a big head. Just people come to see you that don’t mean you don’t have to work hard.
Dorian: The advice I could give, is if you got a dream follow it. Dreams do come true if you work hard and know that you can’t ever give up and that nobody else is going to make it happen for you.
That’s the way we’ve done it and now we’ve gotten to the point where we have the support from the fans and that helps keep you going too. But it really starts with each individual.
You gotta sit down and know than in hard times, you gotta stick together as a family. And we’ve done that, we’ve lived together and had dinner together and go to the grocery store together and fight and fuss, but in the end if you all have the same dream and everybody on the same page you will be successful.
And where do you see Tru Sol going from here? Do you have any aspirations to expand your reach or are you happy doing what you’re doing?
Dorian: We are expanding definitely. That’s why we going back in the lab to hibernate. We’re doing what we want now, but really where we want to be is on a big stage playing right there next to any other professional act there is. And that’s why we want to have a show like a professional band and not just be a garage band. You gotta have the lights, the dress and all that.
You can’t be on stage drinking and smoking and all that, because when you step off that stage you gotta get out and sell and promote yourself.
Sheryta: I think as far as the Grand Strand goes, we still got a lot of people to reach. I still feel like maybe only 30 percent of people here know about us. We get people all the time saying, “Wow, we never heard you all before.” And at the same time we want to get out to Charlotte, Columbia and Atlanta and all that.
Dorian: We’re about to start our own little booking agency and do some things of that nature, because really what we’re trying to do is bigger than just Tru Sol. We want to expand and bring other bands in and show them the ropes and help them take advantage of some of the opportunities we’ve had.
Anything else you want people to know?
Dorian: Last but not least, we want the fans to know we love them and appreciate everything they do and that we are going to continue to strive and keep on bringing whatever it is that we bring them that they like. If we could go out and hug every one of those fans we would.