“Domestic Problems” isn’t usually the sort of name you would attribute to an upbeat and energetic band, but their emotional lyrics and zany stage performance is anything but problematic. Six guys from Grand Rapids on instruments like the saxophone, mandolin, and percussion prove that in eight years a group of college kids can grow into a band that tours and performs with the likes of the Barenaked Ladies and the Dave Matthews Band, yet manages to keep a unique and flavorful sound that they can call their own.
An interesting mix of instruments is what sets Domestic Problems apart from other star-struck wannabes. “We have a versatility of instruments,” commented Job Grotsky. “We’re not just a guitar-based band.” He should know, considering he includes not only the saxophone but the tin whistle and percussion in his personal instrument list as well. Their band member and instrument list is a long one, but equally impressive. Andy Holtgreive plays guitar and sings lead vocals, Billy Kenny plays the trumpet, mandolin, trombone and flugelhorn (think of a bugle or a cornet), Earl Tolliver Jr. plays bass, Jamie Black plays the piano, organ and sings backup vocals and Reggie Ness plays the drums and percussion. Definitely not guitar-based, which is what makes this band one to pay attention to.
Their first two albums, Scattered Pieces and Play, won the band scores of fans not only in Western Michigan, but across the country. With the release of their new album Patiently in April of 2001, Domestic Problems have proved once again that people love their energetic and emotional style of music. “We try and spark a lot of energy and give back twice as much as we’re given,” commented Grotsky. Considering what they get from their fans are multiple dates on the H.O.R.D.E. Festival in 1997 and sold out shows of over 1,500 fans every year since then, they have a lot to give at each show. Domestic Problems definitely delivers.
At every show, fans love hits like “Beautiful Girl,” a song written for singer Holtgrieve’s wife, and “Summer in the Sandbox,” about a kindergarten love. “We try and keep (the setlist) fresh,” said Grotsky. “We like to group songs instrument-wise and keep the show flowing smoothly.” And smooth it is, managing to make the audience to dance, laugh, and sing along all at the right moments. “I think the crowd sees the genuine fun that we have (on stage),” Grotsky explained. “We can’t help but jump around and dance like idiots, so be prepared to have a great time.” If nothing else, a Domestic Problems show is an experience unmatched by any band in recent history. They combine talent, a variety of instruments, and a rowdy stage performance to kick ass in a softcore but highly desirable way, keeping their shows sold out and their albums top-sellers with new and old fans alike.