Local band DePotorLand is quite literally the sum of its parts. Joe DeChristopher (the "De" in DePotorland) plays guitar, programs drum loops, and sings. George Potor plays guitar and sings. Fred Strickland (rounding the name out, obviously enough, with "land") plays bass guitar and sings. All three members write music and lyrics. DeChristopher describes their music as often "political, satirical." Nowhere is that more apt than with the group's recent trilogy of recordings and corresponding videos - all of which come as a direct response to the drilling industry cropping up around the area's natural deposits of Marcellus Shale, or 'fracking' in common parlance.
DeChristopher's background in law has offered insight into the natural gas industry; he explained that it was first in a college course on environmental law that he realized "the ongoing tendency of the various exploiters of natural resources to try to maximize the extent to which they are permitted to externalize costs: every action to take value from the environment results in an environmental cost."
DeChristopher, a New Jersey native and Bucknell grad, has been practicing law since the late 1970s. Potor, another New Jersey native, came to the area to study at Susquehanna University and has been here ever since; he's retired after 35 years of teaching social studies at Lewisburg Area High School.
Area band DePotorLand has made a triology of videos that deal with social issues including fracking.
He and DeChristopher have been playing in groups together since 1980. Strickland, a psychiatrist, hails from central Pennsylvania, and joined DeChristopher and Potor in what would become DePotorLand in 2008. Of their most recent addition, DeChristopher said "we should credit the positive burst of energy we've derived by bringing Fred [Strickland] on board to add bass chops, vocals and tunes."
The three work well together, each contributing material, as well as their vocal and guitar talents. The group occasionally enlists drummers for live performances, though DeChristopher programs drum tracks for most of their songs. Of working with his bandmates, he said, "Our arrangements are fully collaborative. Often one of us will bring a new song to the group and by the end of rehearsal find we've transformed the song into an entirely different style than we'd brought. It can be an exhilarating process."
Potor added, "Creating music by consensus can be time-consuming and exhausting, but [is] almost always rewarding. It's my favorite way to work with musicians."
"Chaos or Community?" was originally written in 2011 by Potor for a Hiroshima Commemoration in Lewisburg. In it, Potor addresses a sense of "community activism," using certain locals' reaction to the gas drilling in the area as a point of reference. "['Chaos or Community'] turned out to have a life of its own outside of the Hiroshima memorial and we've kept [it] in our regular set rotation," said Potor.
"The Frapture" was written by Fred Strickland for the group's Sept. 30 performance at the Frack Awareness Coalition Concert at Central Oak Heights in West Milton.
The song makes several allusions to well-known rock songs, using "fragments in a fracking context," Potor explained.
Of his composition, Strickland said, "I came to the issue of fracking with no particular opinion or vested interest, but as I read up on it, what struck me most was the unseemly haste with which Pennsylvania allowed the fracking to proceed. There are horror stories out there and there are those who say there is little or no danger. Clearly there is some risk, but nobody really knows how much."
Completing the trilogy is "Where's the Water?" another piece composed for the Frack Awareness Coalition Concert, by Potor.
"In this piece, I was trying to celebrate our access to abundant and clean fresh water," he said. "Of course, fracking's potential to affect our water supply was my implied concern."
The videos are collages of images from live performances and recording sessions, photos and graphs describing the results of the natural gas industry's presence in the area and waterscapes from around the world. Potor credited Jeff Halkowitz, the Responsible Drilling Alliance, and Terri Patterson with the photographs.
Music lovers will be able to see DePotorLand perform live Jan. 25 at King Street Coffeehouse in Northumberland. For more information, to find when and where they're playing or to contact them, visit Facebook and search for "DePotorLand."
The band also has profiles and soundclick.com; search for "DePotorLand" or "Global Citizen." For more information about the Responsible Drilling Alliance and the effects of the natural gas industry, go to www.responsibledrillingalliance.org.