You’re in a band. Your drummer and bass player quit. What do you do? If you were to ask most musicians this question, they’d probably tell you one of two things: either find someone to replace them or cancel your upcoming gigs.
For Brookfield native Hershyl Edwards and Jesse Cryderman, neither choice was an option.
“A gig came up, and we played as a two-piece,” Cryderman recalled. “We got a good response and people liked it.”
So the duo christened themselves Bifunkal, and they were off and running.
“It’s kind of a novelty,” Edwards said. “Hopefully, we’re good enough musicians, and it will seem like there are four or five people playing at once.”
Apparently, they are good enough, because the pair have been performing in their present configuration for over five years. They have a regular Friday night gig at Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero, and appear frequently at Brookfield’s Salt Creek Wine Bar.
Edwards and Cryderman both have extensive musical backgrounds and an eclectic variety of musical influences.
“If you grow up just listening to the blues, you might end up being a great blues player,” Edwards said, noting that the resulting sound might be a little more interesting “if you grow up listening to blues and punk, for instance.”
Edwards started learning to play drums while he was in fourth grade, and went on to sing in the choir at Park Junior High School in LaGrange Park. At the same time, he was learning to play guitar, bass and keyboards. He began taking voice lessons while attending Lyons Township High School.
That’s also when Edwards said he first thought about becoming a professional musician.
“That’s when you start thinking about what you want to do with your life,” he said.
Influences were all around: Edwards’ father was a musician, and his uncle, Michael Colgrass, is a Pulitzer prize-winning composer.
“I have musicians in my family, so I was encouraged early on,” he said. “It’s nice to have the support of your family. It makes it easier to do what you want to do.”
Cryderman, who grew up in Wheaton, also developed an interest in music at an early age. Kriderman attended Edison Middle School.
“We had a great music program,” he said. “There was a lot of support for music.”
Cryderman gave credit to band director Chet Balzar, a jazz trumpet player.
“He was instrumental in getting me excited about music,” Cryderman said.
After graduation, Cryderman moved on to Western Michigan University, where he became an English and philosophy major. Still, “there is a very rich musical heritage in Kalamazoo,” he noted.
Cryderman found a job working for Pro Co Sound in Kalamazoo, manufacturer of professional audio equipment including guitar and microphone cables, in-ear monitor controllers and distortion pedals.
“I’ve got a really good knowledge of electronics,” Cryderman said.
While working for Pro Co, “I learned how to solder, and I learned how to make pedals and to come up with different kinds of sounds.”
“I think a lot of innovation comes from having varied interests,” Edwards said, adding that his musical influences range from “classic rock and funk,” including Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder and James Brown, to jazz and hip-hop.
“We try to incorporate progressive elements, and we do a lot of improvising,” he said.
So when they found themselves with half a band, “Hershyl and I still wanted to make some music.
“I had a looping pedal at the time,” Cryderman remembered. “I could layer lead guitar and rhythm guitar lines on top of each other.”
Meanwhile, Edwards plugged a microphone into a down-octave pedal, “to see what it sounded like.” He vocalized some bass lines into a microphone fed into a bass amplifier. Together, those effects created a fuller sound.
Edwards said he felt validated by the response.
“It’s easier and more gratifying to play music that people want to hear,” he said. “It’s rewarding when you have an audience that’s really getting into what you’re doing.”
In 2007, the duo released their first full-length CD, “Under the Undone Sun,” songs from which can be listened to on the band’s Web site Binfunkal.com.
The band’s next local appearance comes Aug. 8 at the Salt Creek Wine Bar, 8900 Fairview Ave., Brookfield, from 9 p.m. to midnight.