Undersea wants to hear sweet sounds of success

Jeremy Gross grew up like a lot of kids did, listening to the music of an older sibling and hanging out with friends that were musicians.

“I got to sample a lot of different music you’d never hear on the radio,” Gross said. “I guess I was lucky in a sense. I always had something different available to me to that most people wouldn’t get to hear.”

That love of music turned into a hobby that has now turned into a mission, so to speak. And with the opening of Undersea Records on Bay Street in downtown Port Orchard, Gross is trying to turn others on to a wide variety of musical sounds.

“I’ve always been into independent music and lesser-known bands, that kind of thing,” Gross said. “When I moved here I got to know a lot of local musicians and I wanted to do something to support independent music and support local musicians.

“I kind of got tired listening to the same old stuff on the radio every day,” Gross said. “Or turning on the TV and having some big corporation like Sony telling me what to listen to.”

That’s when Gross started getting hold of bands from all over the country, mostly via the Internet, that didn’t have national distribution or were signed by very small record labels about his idea of selling their music in the area as a way to promote independent or underground bands.

“There was enough excitement that I decided to go ahead and open a store,” Gross said. “And we specialize in undistributed music.”

And in all genres of music — from punk to jazz to country to Christian and anything and everything in between. And most of it comes directly from the bands themselves.

“We don’t have a lot of bands yet but we get more in all the time,” Gross said. “It’s a slow process using the internet and phone. But I’m all about supporting local music.”

Besides displaying and selling CDs and records — yes, Gross also has a selection of vinyl records — he also allows local musicians to sell guitars, basses and amps in the store on a consignment basis while displaying paintings and drawings from local artists as well.

Gross said he has an order on the way for guitar strings, picks and drumsticks to help around out the store and will have the ability to help someone put together and special order drum kits as well.

“I don’t have the space to be a full-blown music store,” Gross said. “But as far as the basic needs and accessories, I’ll have it in here.”

He also uses his back room for music lessons. T.J. Clement, a local musician who is part of the Olympic College jazz band, teaches piano and guitar and runs the store for Gross, who’s on active duty in the Navy, when he is away.

The setup is perfect for those looking for something a little different in their music. The store is equipped with both a sound system that plays only the music that’s for sale, along with portable computers that customers can use to sample music before buying.

Some of Undersea’s selection includes the music of Beth Patterson, Clarelynn Rose, Nemo and The Screwdrivers.

“It’s been a lot of fun so far,” Gross said. “There’s all this music that wouldn’t normally be available, and it’s been a lot of fun to see people get excited about music that most of them would not even know existed. Corporate American dictates what we listen to and tells us what to like. I’m just trying to offer some variety so people realize that’s there’s more out there.”

Because of his military duties, the store will have very flexible hours, he said. For now, the hours of business are 4 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, noon to 8:30 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The store is closed on Sunday and is reserved for music lessons on Monday.

But Gross said if customers walk by and happen to see someone inside, just knock and he’ll happy to open up and let them take a listen to what he’s got.

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