Relative Degree

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Relative Degree
Relative Degree on Xero Tape.jpg
Relative Degree at The Roxy in 1996
Background information
Origin Long Beach, California
Genres
  • Funk rock
  • Rap rock
  • Ska
Years active 1995 (1995)–1996
Associated acts
Past members

Relative Degree was a band Mark Wakefield, Dave Garrett, Brad Delson and Rob Bourdon played in before Xero. The group was active from 1995 to 1996 and only played one show before disbanding.

Story

Dave Garrett met Mark Wakefield while attending California State University Long Beach (CSULB). Dave was giving bass lessons to a girl in the dorms when Mark overheard him playing and asked if he wanted to get together and jam sometime. They played in Long Beach for a while with some people - which included a drummer named Scott Belsha[1] - but they decided it wasn't the sound they were looking for and started a new group.[2] Dave brought in Rob Bourdon, a drummer with whom he had played in Karma, and Mark brought in Brad Delson, the guitar player from his previous band The Pricks.

The new band was called Relative Degree with Mark Wakefield serving as vocalist.[3] Explaining the name of the group, Dave said, "Mark was really the guy who came up with it. I think it was just the cool idea of like “Hey, this is one degree away from like boiling point.” Because looking at the bands that we really followed and listened to a lot, there was a lot of this pent up, just like angst, almost. And I think sometimes just having that little bit just to push you over the top enough to go to boiling was kind of really the idea behind the band's name."[2]

They had a dream of playing one show at The Roxy Theatre, a popular club for up and coming bands, located on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood, California, so they set it as their big goal. "People laugh at me when I say this but my goal was - as a musician - to play a show at our local club, the Roxy, in L.A. in high school for my friends. I did it. Now I say this, and it may sound like bullshit, everything that's happened from that point on is all gravy. We're really proud of the music we've made, and for everyone that gets to hear it, that's more love for us. We're totally happy," said Brad.[4]

The band wrote 12 songs and rehearsed for a year[5] at Rob Bourdon's mom's house four days a week in preparation for the show. Mark was an art student at CSULB and designed the group's logo and promotional material.[2]

Brad had a neighbor down the street who owned a little recording studio in his garage where Relative Degree recorded demos into a DAT (Digital Audio Tape).[2] About their sound, Rob said, "Relative Degree sounded a lot like the band 311- it was rock with a funky incorporation of hip hop and rap elements."[6] According to Dave, Mark was a big fan of heavier music in the styles of System Of A Down and Deftones and tried to bring those sounds to the band. Influenced by the success of No Doubt, right before their debut show, Relative Degree recruited a brass section composed of two musicians Rob knew from his highschool's jazz band.[2]

The show at The Roxy finally happened on May 17, 1996 and was captured on Mark's camcorder in video format with bad quality audio.[2] After their goal was reached, the band stopped practicing and lost focus, eventually leading to a break up and a separation of ways.[7] "The stuff that we were goofing around with Mike at near the end part of Relative Degree was honestly more like where the band was trying to go anyway. We definitely weren't trying to be like a ska band for sure. So I think that's kind of why," explained Dave.[2]

Mike Shinoda, who was a classmate of Brad's and Mark's, was making beats for local MCs at the time, but would watch them practice sometimes. Mike developed a strong friendship with Delson, and, although he never joined the band, he would occasionally put samples in their songs.[5] Dave said, "He was almost like a quasi member of the band. We definitely want to collaborate with him and we had a lot of fun doing some jam sessions and stuff together too when we were Relative Degree." Towards the end of Relative Degree, Mike brought Joe Hahn to watch a couple of their rehearsals, but Joe never played with them.[2]

That Summer, Mark and Mike recorded the first demos for what would become Xero at Mike's house. A photo of Relative Degree performing at The Roxy was used on the artwork of the first publicly available Xero demos in 1997.

Band Members

Former
  • Mark Wakefield - vocals (1995-1996)
  • Dave Garrett - bass (1995-1996)
  • Brad Delson - guitar (1995-1996)
  • Rob Bourdon - drums (1995-1996)
Touring
  • The band had two saxophone players whose names are unknown.

References