Many readers may not have heard of up-and-coming local rockers Icky Hollow, but they seem to be moving forward at an incredible rate. Winners of the 2014 Texas Buzz Music Award for Best Vocalist and reaching No. 1 on the ReverbNation chart with their song “Melody of Pain," Icky Hollow have also lined up three sponsors in their short career, among them Schecter Guitars. On top of all that, they already have three tours under their belts and will open for Puddle of Mudd this Saturday at the 18th Street Pier and Bar in San Leon. Hard to believe they’ve only been together a little more than a year.
The momentum behind this band is something to take notice of. Yet despite their sudden success, Icky Hollow comes across as humble, with a good dose of comedy and earthy goodness. They’re seemingly the kind of happy guys who started out in a garage and stumbled upon success. But destiny or just lucky, the band is on an undeniable upward trajectory.
But what does "Icky Hollow" mean? It sounds like a cross between a Washington Irving allusion and an inside joke. Yet the meaning is anything but, explains vocalist Bradley Mangrum as he describes an event that no one would want to fathom.
“In 2006, I lost my five-year-old daughter, Leighanne, in a wreck," he says. "It’s just how I felt at the time: icky and hollow. So the name just stuck.”
Mangrum began to write songs as a way of expressing his pain through music. “People started liking what I was doing," he says. "I never thought I could sing. I never sang until [she] passed away.”
That emotion definitely comes forth in his performance. Mangrum's passion is evident in his deep-barreled vocals, reminiscent of many Southern-style rockers.
"People tell me I put out a vibe when I sing," he says. "I think it’s because of her.”
Mangrum describes his band's sound as a mix between System of a Down and old Soundgarden, but "definitely hard rock" as influenced by Led Zeppelin as well as '80s rock and alternative.
“We have a power set we like to play live," he says. "But we’ve also got this funky jazz thing going on, too."
As distracting as that sounds, it may be spot-on. Bradley not only sings but also plays (wait for it) trumpet in Icky Hollow. Outside of ska and punk, that instrument is not often heard in heavier alternative and rock music. But after hearing Icky Hollow’s set, you may ask, "Why not?"
Mangrum says he spent his childhood in a musical home, growing up around a mother and uncle who encouraged his interest. He picked up the trumpet at age five.
“I would listen to Maynard Ferguson, jazz, different records,” he says.
In school, he sat first-chair trumpet from fifth grade to senior year. He earned a music scholarship to college in Louisiana, only to stop playing in 1998 after a car wreck put a hole in his lip.
“I remember I could put my finger through it,” he laughs.
But picking up his horn again has certainly proved profitable. The extra layer Mangrum's solos add to tracks like "Faded" makes the songs more interesting and dynamic. In an otherwise monotonous stream of "-core" bands and outdated metal, Icky Hollow’s trumpet shakes listeners out of their stupor with something a little different.
Touring has helped their exposure enormously, especially in Hollywood. Mangrum says playing venues like Los Angeles’ Whiskey A Go-Go and the recently closed House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard has been an honor.
“To be on the stage at Whiskey A Go-Go was so awesome," he marvels. "Really, really awesome. Knowing who all has played there — Jim Morrison, The Beatles, it was just an incredible experience.” He beams when telling about the House of Blues gig: “We were one of the last bands to ever play there before they tore it down. Pretty cool.
“People just seemed to like us a whole lot," he adds. "They would come up after a show and say, ‘Hey, man. You don’t sound like anybody else.’”
Sponsorships from Kent Custom Cases and Explore Apparel appeared, opening up still more opportunities for the band. Mangrum's vision for Icky Hollow goes even further than that, though.
“I’d really love to play festivals," he says. "I want to get in front of a lot of people and show them we’re an original.”
Fans can judge for themselves on Saturday.
Icky Hollow warms up for Puddle of Mudd Saturday at the 18th St. Pier Bar & Grill, 101 18th Street, San Leon. Doors open at 8 p.m.; Pulse Rate Zero, the Apostles and Soco Road are also on the bill.