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Tidings Cafe: The Tentacles

The Tentacles is a rock group made up of four Ashland High School students with a love of music and for each other.

"It helps to just be close with your band-mates and go to school together and to see each other every day," says 16-year-old vocalist Lily Baugh. She is joined by 17-year-old guitarist and vocalist Julian Jones, 16-year-old drummer Rhi Ahimsa and 14-year-old bassist Kelly Gibson.

The Tentacles won Ashland High School's battle of the bands competition in April. Since then, the four have been writing original songs, which they have recorded with Bob DiChiro at The Grove, and are looking for Ashland gigs.

"We just kind of recently got everyone that we want in the band, and just started writing since the beginning of the year," Jones says.

Many of their competitors at the battle of the bands had been playing together for longer than a year, so The Tentacles was honored to be selected as the standout.

"We went second out of six bands and we pretty much rocked it," Jones says.

"We had some slight moshing going on," Ahimsa adds.

The winning band was selected by a panel of three judges based on effort, stage presence and audience response.

"I feel like part of us knew we were going to win before we did," Ahimsa says.

"I had a dream that we had won the night before," Baugh says. "We got like a million dollars and we came off the stage and everyone was wearing ball gowns."

They didn't win a million dollars, but they did win gift cards to Louie's Bar and Grill, Cripple Creek Music and Pangea as well as $20 each. Members used part of their winnings to buy earplugs, admitting their sound is quite loud.

Citing influences from indie rock to metal, the group's favorite bands include Built to Spill, Led Zeppelin, The Ramones, The Vines and Black Sabbath.

"They were kind of punkie when I joined," Gibson says. "Then I started to kind of influence them to do more indie rock and some blues in there."

The four get together every Sunday to practice in Jones' grandmother's garage near downtown Ashland, surrounded by "strange antiques and grandmother items," Ahimsa says.

For the Tidings Cafe, The Tentacles performed an original song titled "Sound of Commotion" in the garage.

Sweethearts Jones and Baugh do a lot of the writing together before bringing it to Ahimsa and Gibson to tweak it.

"We're covering songs until we have enough time to write all originals," Baugh says.

Already the group has recorded a three-song EP with DiChiro, which has given them a whole new perspective on the work that goes into recording.

"The first time I was really nervous. I remember we took three takes with my voice and the first one was so bad, because I was so nervous," Baugh says. "But now I feel comfortable there and know what I'm doing, which is a really awesome feeling."

"Now we understand how it can take more than a year to record an album," Jones says.

One of the group's original tunes is performed in Spanish.

"It's about just playing music and not letting anyone tell you, 'You can't do it,' and going with how you feel with it," Baugh says.

The group would like to gig more often during the summer, but find it challenging not being old enough to be in a bar. "(We) would like to play for restaurants who would have us," Jones says.

The Tentacles will perform a free concert from 5 to 6 p.m. today on the Ashland Plaza as part of Treehouse Books First Friday Artwalk Imagination Celebration. The Tentacles are in the running for the "Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands 16," a national Battle of the Bands competition. Voting is through a link on The Tentacles' Facebook page.