Blacklight Ruckus has character and funky beats

By Max Sullivan
On February 15, 2013

  • Blacklight Ruckus held a residency playing at Ballards, now Aroma Joes, in Durham. Max Sullivan/Contributing


You never know what kind of funked-out talent is hiding under a rock in your back yard, even on the New Hampshire Seacoast.

Coming from Dover and parts of the Exeter area, Blacklight Ruckus has been around in one incarnation or another since founding members Garrett Cypher and Steve Kysor were at Exeter High School. So far, they've made a name for themselves playing at festivals like The Big Up and Harry Brown's Farm, as well as opening for local heroes Rustic Overtones. They also held down a residency at Ballard's (Where Aroma Joe's is now), so UNH alumni might be familiar with them.

What makes this band worth checking out is their ability to nail the funk sound. Comparable to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and 311, they don't leave any space empty in their groove. Steve Kysor plays a perfectly simple, yet banging beat on the drums. Thomas Forbes bass playing draws from the grooves in the 90's hip hop sounds he's grown up loving. Cypher's riffs on rhythm guitar are dead on, and Aiden Early's ripping guitar solos weave their way through any cracks left unfilled in the Blacklight Ruckus sound. Each member has a different flavor, and they compliment each other. The sound is far from flat.

The band reached a new level when they added Early, Forbes' younger cousin from Brattleforo, VT, about a year ago. At 20, he's one of the best blue rock guitarists in the Seacoast area. His soloing style is far from mindless noodling. Inspired heavily by John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and growing up listening to jam and funk based rock, Early's sound is both blistering and tasteful, and it properly fits the foundation that was set by the trio before his arrival.

Putting on a good stage show sits high on the list of priorities for Blacklight Ruckus, and they deliver. Kysor not only serves as the band's drummer, but he also has a passion for blacklights and other types of light setups, and the band takes full advantage. Many Blacklight Ruckus shows incorporate Kysor's light setup. 

In addition, the band frequently changes instruments on stage. Kysor hops up from his drum set and takes over the keyboard which sits at the front of the stage. With Forbes on the drums, Kysor is able to give the band a secondary sound of psychadelia with his phased out keyboard sounds. It goes to show that the band is willing to exhaust all their resources to maximize their stagecraft.

"It's one thing to create good music, its another thing to put on a show," Kysor said. "And that's how you get people. You can play the best music in the world, but if you have no stage presence, youre gonna be forgotten."

Even without a lightshow or goofy glasses and wigs, as they've been known to don, the four are exhuberant on stage. Combined with the music, their active appearance makes for a great jam rock experience. Even when Cypher is running through the crowd with a megaphone, the rest of the band still manage to captivate.

Blacklight Ruckus will be recording a new record in July. In the meantime, they've released a free sampler, which can be downloaded at The sampler features songs from their previous releases, as well as one new one called "Miss Jiffy."

Check out Blacklight Ruckus at their facebook page, or at

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