Singing about health insurance helped The Dependents record their first album.
While performing at a Fourth of July parade in Springfield, Otsego County, last year, the teenage group — featuring brother-and-sister duo Jocelyn and Chris Arndt, drummer Evan Searles and bassist Valerie Hoffman — was approached by a representative from a national long-term care awareness campaign, “3 in 4 Need More.” The meeting led to The Dependents recording a theme song for the campaign’s Internet show.
“You’d laugh if you heard it,” Jocelyn, 17, said recently, while vacationing with her family in Virginia. “Part of the deal was we had to include a lot of words about the campaign. So there’s stuff like ‘Prudential’ and ‘Mutual [of] Omaha’ in it. Everything had to be in there.”
The jingle ended up being used in the campaign’s final episode, which can be found on YouTube, and the band was asked to write another song, this time for a TV show that the organization is currently pitching to networks.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Caffe Lena, 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs
How Much: $5
More Info: 357-8628, www.caffelena.org
In order to record both jingles, the Fort Plain-based band went to Castle Studios in Utica for two sessions, with expenses paid for by the campaign — the band’s first time in a professional recording studio. And while they were there, the band decided to record the rest of its original material, along with a few covers. The resulting 11-song album, “Dry Cereal,” was released in May.
“We go in there, and it was just like a movie,” Chris Arndt, 16, said. “Everyone gets a different room, and they give you a pair of headphones and set everyone’s levels.”
“And you talk to each other through the intercom,” Jocelyn added. “It’s nice; it was really cool.”
The band will get a chance to showcase its original material in a stripped-down setting when it performs at Caffe Lena for the Emerging Artist series on Wednesday night.
Since forming in the summer of 2010, the band has quickly built a reputation thanks in part to their eclectic song choices — everything from modern country material from groups like Sugarland, to classic rock like Led Zeppelin, to modern pop such as Ce Lo Green’s “Forget You.”
But for their Caffe Lena debut, the band will be able to focus on its original material, which offers up an equally varied mix of genres. Tim Wolfe will also join the band on percussion for this show.
“We definitely want to show the audience kind of who we are as artists, and this is the right place for that,” Jocelyn said. “We’re also going to talk about what inspired us to write our music, since it’s kind of the right place for crowds interacting with the artist, that kind of thing.”
The Arndt siblings got their start in music relatively early — Jocelyn started piano lessons while in fourth grade. Initially, Chris wanted piano lessons as well, but their parents decided a different instrument would be a better choice.
“Our dad said, ‘You should probably play different instruments, so you won’t be competing all the time,’ ” Jocelyn said. “He picked up guitar and it worked out really well. Now we can work together and play together, so we got lucky that way, I think.”
They made their live debut in front of an audience when Jocelyn was 12 and Chris was 11, performing “Stairway to Heaven” in its entirety. Jocelyn ended up singing, as no one else wanted to.
“She was not very outgoing back then, so she didn’t do the screaming part at the end,” Chris said. “But we did the entire song. It’s a pretty hard one to start out with.”
Nowadays, Jocelyn has no problem singing that part of the song. Her influences as lead vocalist range from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals to Pat Benatar and Janis Joplin. “I definitely like strong female vocalists that really belt it out, and that’s what I try to do,” she said.
The duo continued to perform in quieter settings. When they landed a gig for a Fort Plain Fourth of July celebration in 2010, the duo decided they needed a drummer, and longtime friend Searles, now 15, came aboard. Hoffman, 16, joined the band on bass a year ago.
Songwriting-wise, the Arndt siblings also lead the way — Jocelyn usually writes all the lyrics, sometimes with help from her father, while Chris will tackle chord progressions and lead guitar parts.
“Some of the songs [Jocelyn] takes a bigger part, some of the songs I take a bigger part,” Chris said. “You can tell it’s the same band, because they have the same kind of sound, but the songs are all different enough that when we asked most people, ‘What do you like most about the album?’, each one said a different track on the album.”
With two songs, “Dry Cereal” and “More Than I Say So,” on regular rotation on The Exit, 97.7 WEXT-FM, and plenty more gigs coming up this year, the band is showing few signs of slowing down. But with Jocelyn leaving for college next summer, things will have to be put on hold soon.
The Arndt siblings certainly have plans to continue playing music, though, even if it’s not together.
“I think we’re just going to ride this wave as far as we can ride it,” Jocelyn said.