Undercurrent came together in 1992 when Rick Reed (vocals, guitar), Bob Wilkerson, (vocals, keyboards) and John Hoerr (vocals and guitar) met at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Quickly teaming up with former bandmates from Cincinnati based band Cygnus, John Dean (bass) and Vasanth Shenai (drums), the group began rehearsing and working on original material. After a few months, John Hoerr left the band to pursue a music degree at Bowling Green University. The band performed and recorded throughout 1993 and released their self-titled album, Undercurrent, in spring 1994.
The album was recorded at Group Effort Studios in Crescent Springs, Kentucky, engineered by Jeff Monroe. It is an eclectic group of songs with a prog rock flavor, influenced by Rush, The Police, Genesis, Marillion, and Frank Zappa. The album starts with "Search for the Answers", a track about self-discovery that immediately delivers the band’s progressive influences. It is followed by the uptempo, guitar riff-based "What You Believe". "Looking at the Same World" provides a dreamy, textured, reggae-influenced feel. "Success Story", written by Bob Wilkerson, is a scathing, piano-based critique of career-climbing, greed, and their consequences. "Breaking Point" is a straight-ahead blues-based rock song that features a guitar solo by Cygnus bandmate Neil Morgan. "Distractions" is a slow, melodic lament about the frustration of being interrupted while completely absorbed in an addictive book. "The Call" is a driving pop song about the conflict between self-doubt and the obligations of service to others. "Next is D.C. in B.C. (Today?)", a frenetic/poly-rhythmic drum solo by Vasanth Shenai. The piece represents the chaos that is omnipresent in our “civilized” society. "Introspective" is a dark song about the loss of direction and loneliness after divorce. "Between The Extremes" focuses on the age-old battle between the head and the heart, giving solos to the keyboard, bass, and drums. The album finishes with a high energy rock song, "When You Lose Sight", about a trophy wife who decides to leave her programmed social cage.
In summer 1994, the band relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio where they continued to perform with Cygnus guitarist Neil Morgan. Later that year, Vasanth Shenai and Neil Morgan left the band to pursue other careers. Drummer Jerry Bellian, a friend from the band’s birthplace of Oxford, Ohio, joined the band. They began writing and recording their second album in winter 1995, completing three tracks before disbanding in spring 1996. All members of the band remain good friends and jam together whenever possible.
Rick Reed currently leads the Cincinnati-based progressive rock band The Infinity Ball, which performs regularly around the tri-state area and has recordings available for purchase.
Undercurrent – CD Review 1994
It’s obvious this local band appreciates music that does not fit into a mold: in their liner notes the group pays homage to Rush and Frank Zappa. Rush and Zappa were forced into that ambiguous category of progressive rock, a purgatory for artists who could not be stylistically labeled. Well, the same goes for Undercurrent. This jazzy rock/pop combo sound somewhere in between Steely Dan, Boston and Phish (?!?). “Success Story” is perfect for lounge lizards. “Breaking Point” tries out a bluesy/jazz method in the same vein as Widespread Panic. “D.C. in B.C. (today?)” is a strange and sporadically patterned drum solo. There is obviously a sense of humor at work here, because even though the musicians are individually talented, they seem to pride themselves on lacking definition as a whole. – Amy McDonald