Local Band "Turn Up The Bricks" Builds Sound, Relationships

Thursday, November 30, 2017, 8:01 am
Amy Davis

Above: Turn Up The Bricks performs at the Allen St Farmers Market in Lansing. From left to right, Alex Passanesi, Connor Meston, Sergio Ibanez, and Joe Baker. Photo by Tyler Tenniswood.

Four years ago, Alex Passanesi met Joe Baker, Sergio Ibanez, and Connor Meston. Together they created Turn Up The Bricks, a local band that plays everything, including country, bluegrass, folk, rock, psychedelic, jazz, Latin, funk, swing, punk, ska, blues and much more.

Before jumping into the details of their current band, let's flash back to when these guys came together.

In 2013, after moving to Michigan from New York, Passanesi found himself at Snyder Hall’s cafeteria on MSU’s campus without knowing anyone. However, his long hair and Bob Marley shirt attracted Joe Baker, who approached him with “you look like you might play some music. Want to jam sometime?” The next day Baker showed up at Passanesi’s dorm room with his guitar and amp. The rest is history.

Next, Passanesi found himself on a bus heading back to East Lansing from downtown Lansing. Sergio Ibanez was on the same bus as he headed to work at Chipotle on Grand River. Sergio reached out to Alex after noticing his Jimi Hendrix shirt. They chatted a bit, and next thing you know Passanesi also held a full-time job at Chipotle, as he says, “slinging burritos in the kitchen.” The two started an acoustic duo called “Two Joints,” in which they played reggae originals and covers of Sublime and Bob Marley. Little did they know, there was even more in their future.

A year later, Passanesi lived in the Bower Coop house. There he met Connor Meston, who moved in a semester after he did. Together Passanesi and Meston lived, cooked, adventured, and (obviously) made music.

In February 2016, Passenesi brought the four guys together, as he had always dreamed of doing, to form a band. He says that as they began to play on that very first day, the chemistry between them just clicked.

The group started holding practices in the Bower Coop. Bower is a brick building, hence the name “Turn Up the Bricks.” However, the band members explain that there is more to the title than this. The group’s music is about change and making a difference, almost like a revolution. During the French Revolution, radicals would pull bricks up from the street and throw them through windows as their way to stand up for what is right.

According to Passanesi, the band’s most memorable experience took place this past summer. The members visited Meston’s cottage in Grand Haven, on Lake Michigan. Together they spent time on the water, hiked, and played a show at the Grand Armory Brewing Company. He says the trip really brought them together as they started to see a future together. Several band members share a house in East Lansing's Oakwood neighborhood where they garden, and share their bounty with neighbors. 

Besides the performance at the Grand Armory Brewing Company, Turn Up The Bricks performs locally at both the East Lansing Farmer’s Market and the Allen Farmers Market. They also perform frequently at Coop Houses in East Lansing.


Above: Sergio Ibanez, Connor Meston, Alex Passanesi and Joe Baker at the Robin Theatre in Lansing, Michigan. Photo by Graham Pierce.

On Thursday, November 2, Turn Up The Bricks performed at the Robin Theatre in Lansing, where they premiered their new album, Plant the Seed. The album includes six songs that the team believes are unique, and which were recorded live rather than recorded as separate tracks and put together in a studio.

Plant the Seed is now available on Bandcamp at https://turnupthebricks.bandcamp.com/releases.

Turn Up The Bricks is currently looking for new musicians to join their group, specifically auxiliary percussion, backup singers, brass players, horn players, saxophone, flute or clarinet.

Contact Passanesi at turnupthebricks@gmail.com if you are interested in learning more or interacting with this group.



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