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Open Hand

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Grunge, post-grunge, stoner rock, emocore, and all the Black Sabbath, Soundgarden, and Nirvana worship that comes with those scenes are big influences on the sound of Open Hand, along with a surprising touch of prog, thanks in no small part to Justin Isham's longtime love of King Crimson, early Genesis, and Robert Fripp. After they both spent time in the Los Angeles-based hardcore band I Awake, vocalist/guitarist Isham and drummer Alex Rodriguez formed Open Hand in 2000 with guitarist Sean Woods and former Not Waving But Drowning bassist Jeff Meyer. Two self-released EPs and some flirtation with the major labels eventually led the group to the Trustkill label, a haven for heavy bands who weren't afraid of being emo or melodic. The band's 2003 release for the label, The Dream, brought Isham's Crimson and Peter Gabriel influence to the surface and comparisons to Live and Taking Back Sunday in the press. After a worldwide tour with labelmates Poison the Well, the band returned home and split up. Isham carried on alone, writing new music with Open Hand in mind. He persuaded drummer Paxton Pryor away from his band the Vacation and the two spent the summer of 2004 creating a record for both emo kids and guitar geeks. Covering plenty of musical ground, the ambitious and epic You and Me arrived in early 2005. After the album's release, bassist Michael Anastasi and guitarist Sean Woods were added to the band. ~ David Jeffries