Local Spotlight: Brian Lorente and the Usual Suspects
The guys get their "Anchorman" faces on. Clockwise from top: Kurt Stone, Bill Molitor, Shawn VanSteeland, Brian Lorente.
Brian Lorente and the Usual Suspects has been rocking mid-Michigan and the surrounding states with their own brand of country music for the last several years.
Without management or representation, the band has paved their own way onto the local music scene, performing at dozens of venues and opening for acts like the Zac Brown Band, Gretchen Wilson, Charlie Daniels Band and more.
Four members of the band - Brian Lorente (vocals, guitar), Bill Molitor (bass, vocals), Shawn VanSteeland (drums, vocals), and Kurt Stone (guitar, vocals) [Buddy Sebastian (guitar, fiddle, mandolin, vocals) was unable to attend] - visited the FOX 47 studio to chat with me about their beginnings, influences, and what fans can expect from their shows.
Brian Lorente describes the Lansing-based band as "high energy country," bringing their own contemporary sound to venues around Michigan and the Midwest each year.
"We try to get around as much as we can. We don't ever like to be in one place too much, especially with festival season. We travel quite a bit," says Lorente.
The band formed when the members first met at 621 in Lansing, at open mic nights. Brian Lorente was a member of another band, but soon Lorente had pulled Bill Molitor in for a show. Drummer Shawn VanSteeland used to run the open mic nights at 621, and had known Molitor for years.
"The Cadillac Club was our first gig," says Lorente. "And then we said 'Let's go forward with this.' Our guitar player dropped out, so we brought in Kurt. And all of a sudden things started happening for us."
During shows, the band will play modern, Top 40 country - songs from Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan - but they'll throw in older songs to tailor the setlist to the crowd. Kurt Stone, the youngest member of the band, has the oldest musical soul, according to Lorente.
His musical influences often find their way into setlists for the band: Waylon Jennings, George Jones, and Randy Travis.
The idea for the name "the Usual Suspects" came from Molitor, who admits he was inspired by the film.
"One day we were sitting around talking concepts, and Bill just pipes in and says, 'I know it. We'll call it Brian Lorente and the Usual Suspects'," says Lorente.
"I had actually watched the movie the night before," Molitor adds.
"It was so funny, and it just stuck and it fit. Our first banner was the movie logo," adds Lorente.
For all of the members of Brian Lorente and the Usual Suspects, playing in the band is all about their love of the music; yet each of the guys has children and a family, and that is where their heart is.
Brian Lorente and the Usual Suspects have a few upcoming shows in Michigan. They play The Intersection in Grand Rapids Thursday night, opening for Thomas Rhett. On Friday, October 5th, they will be playing the Ovation Octoberfest Cruise on Lake St. Clair. Tickets are still available. Click here for tour information.
Watch the video below for a taste of Brian Lorente and the Usual Suspects: