By Kourtney Husnick
Balancing school, work, creating a band and finding a sound can be difficult for many aspiring musicians. Kai Rogers, guitarist and vocalist for The Rift, figured out how to balance it all early into his first year of college at Western Kentucky University.
It all started when Rogers met Stephen Woods and Colton Turley through Western Kentucky University’s jazz band.
His friendship with Woods started with a discussion of “Dungeons & Dragons” and playing music together. After a few jam sessions, The Rift was formed. Rogers noted a specific piano lick from Woods helped get them started. It was later used in the recording of one of their singles.
“I thought it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard, so we kept playing together,” Rogers said.
The band formed in October 2016 with three of the current four members. Rogers had Woods on piano and Colton Turley on bass. Turley joined the band soon after Woods. The trio wrote ten songs, recorded and planned an album before finding a drummer. Rogers played drums on their recordings until they found Yan Garza.
Garza was one of two drummers the band really wanted to join them. Rogers said the group felt like he was too good for them. They weren’t expecting him to want to join.
Rogers and The Rift have made a lot of progress since forming almost a year and a half ago. So far, they’ve released two singles on Bandcamp and perform at local bars like Rocky’s in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
However, Rogers started making music long before forming The Rift.
Rogers’ musical career traces back to the school band in fifth grade. Rogers playeed the drums for his school all throughout middle and high school. Early into high school, he decided to try out guitar. He picked up on it and started playing music with friends from marching band.
At 16 years old, Rogers started making music of his own. He played his first shows and original songs with drummer, Alec Schatzel. The duo sold tickets to their shows to their families and classmates. For some shows, they planned carpools to the venues in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
It was around that time that he started to consider music as what he wanted to do in life.
“I started to eventually realize that it’s not necessarily that I was great at it or anything,” Rogers said. “But that it was something that I was getting better at and that if I put the work into, that I could be pretty good at.”
Rogers credits where he is now to the amount of practice he puts into his music. He plays a minimum of two hours each day. A good day consists of four to five hours of practice, he said.
Whether or not the cliché “practice makes perfect” rings true, it’s a bit early to tell. However, one could definitely say that practice makes progress.
Creating music and listening to music that influenced his individual style led him to Western Kentucky University. Two of his biggest influences – Cage the Elephant and Sleeper Agent – came out of the area.
Those bands still influence his work today with The Rift, which released its first album, “Wasteland Flaming Sun” on March 30.