Men in black tie

3 Piece Suit haunts Springfield’s Station 1

By Matt Clevenger

photo: (l-r) Dylan Schartz, Barry Crabill, and BJ Krouse describe 3 Piece Suit’s sound as ‘sludge-jammer’ because they do whatever they want; photo: W. E. Arnold

Springfield-based trio 3 Piece Suit may look like they are headed to an office or a funeral, but those scenarios couldn’t be further from the truth.

“We’re musicians, not businessmen,” guitarist/vocalist B.J. Krouse says. “3 Piece Suit started about four years ago. We were all musicians in Springfield, in separate bands at the time… I invited them over to practice, and I said, ‘We’re wearing suits. Let’s feel good about it; let’s get some suits on. We’ll jam some music, and let’s have some fun.’”

“I got a bottle of whiskey and some 40s, I sat at my house, cracked open the whiskey and waited for them to get there,” he continues. “They never showed up. They showed up the next morning, and I was laying naked on the ground with an empty bottle of whiskey next to me. That was our first practice, so that’s how we got started.”

Things progressed from there, and now the band’s members—Krouse, drummer Barry Crabill, and organist Dylan Schartz—have built a dedicated following throughout the Dayton/Springfield area and beyond. Distinguished from other acts by their unique, organ-driven sound, the band has mastered the art of dark, creepy rock and roll.

“We describe ourselves as ‘sludge-jammer,’” Krouse says. “It’s just haunting rock and roll. Anything goes. We don’t keep to a set of rules with our music; we do whatever we want. Songs go from happy to the end just being demonic. It’s whatever we feel. We go off the grid a little bit with it. That’s why we call it sludge-jammer, because we do whatever we want. Notes don’t hit sometimes, and that’s just the way it is. But if that’s what we’re feeling at the time, then it’s right.”

Much of the band’s trademark sound comes from a handpicked selection of antique organs. “Our organist picked up his organ for $4 at a garage sale,” Krouse says. “From the first note we heard him play on it, we decided that it was going to be a lead instrument in the band.”

“He plays the bass and lead on the organ,” he adds. “It matches the feeling that we want to give off as a band, which is haunting and joyful at the same time.”

It’s also ridiculously heavy and inconvenient to load up for live shows: “It feels like 900 pounds. It’s just a big wood piece of shit, but it’s the only thing that we can use. It’s the only thing that gets the sound we want.”

“The funny thing about organs is people are giving them away,” he continues. “They don’t know what to do with them. We have like 10 organs that we use; they sound so beautiful when you know how to play them. You don’t hear enough organ in music anymore—there’s just so much you can do with that thing, you don’t even realize it until you get to playing with it.”

The band has already released four albums, and is getting ready to start recording their fifth. “We love recording music, and we write music every day,” Krouse says. “We’ve recorded over 40 songs. We haven’t even released some of them. We enjoy getting in the studio and seeing what we can do.

The band has released four albums. “We have them on Spotify, iTunes, SoundCloud, and BandCamp,” he says. “Every new album we put out is better than the last, and right now, we’re getting ready to record our fifth album. It’s insane; it is the best music any of us have ever written. We’re trying to write music that we want to hear, that we feel like is lacking. I write a song because that’s a song I want to hear. I write songs that I haven’t heard that I want to hear, that I feel like people need to hear.”

3 Piece Suit hits Station 1 in Springfield on Friday, Oct. 21, for a special solo appearance with no opening act. “Generally, we like to play with other bands,” Krouse says, “but we are doing a full three and a half hour set at Station 1 because we’ve got a lot of material.”

“With the exception of Club Panama, Station 1 is one of the only venues in Springfield that will play local artists and take care of the bands,” he says. The band is also scheduled to play Fairborn Halloween Festival on Saturday, Oct. 22.

“That’s always been a dream of mine from when I was young, going to Foy’s and seeing a band playing on the wagon there,” Krouse says. “It’s awesome, and our sound, with the organ; it’s necessary in that environment. We play some spooky Halloween songs. We know the notes that need to be hit in order to bring the chills to your spine.”

3 Piece Suit performs Friday, Oct. 21 at Station 1, 325 N. Fountain Ave. in Springfield. They will also appear at the Fairborn Halloween Festival Saturday, Oct. 22. For more information, please visit 3piecesuit1.bandcamp.com or StationOneSpringfield.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Matt Clevenger at MattClevenger@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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