By DJ Dave Hoffman
Kicking off the Women’s World Cup Friday, Nov. 29 at 4 p.m. is Recycled Percussion. You may have seen them on Season 4 of America’s Got Talent in 2009 where they placed third. I was a fan of theirs then and had the opportunity to see them perform at a Uconn basketball halftime show. Their show is a great act for World Cup. What you may now know is even though America’s Got Talent makes stars out of acts, they were already stars when they appeared.
On Tuesday, Nov. 19, I had the pleasure of speaking with Justin “Mr. Red” Spencer, founder of Recycled Percussion.
The group has spent the past 10 years in Las Vegas performing at many of the top casinos. They recently ended a four-year run at Planet Hollywood. Justin said, “We built a multi-million dollar show and performed 3,000 times there. We had a lot of success there and decided to take that success and launch a TV show, “Chaos and Kindness,” performing kind acts for people. We go to any great length to make those kind acts a reality. It’s like Make-a-Wish. We travel the world doing kind acts for people, doing crazy stunts and just being a rock band with a big heart.”
The show will be available on Amazon Prime and Netflix soon.
This year the show won a couple Emmy’s so they turned it into a brand. Chaos and Kindness is now a clothing line, a store and an experience. They opened their first store in Laconia, New Hampshire, in September and this Saturday have three pop-up stores opening in Manchester, Salem and Nashua.
Recycled Percussion is all about giving back so they share some of the proceeds with the community. Spencer said, “The brand is really taking off and the TV show is one of the highest rated shows in the Northeast. It’s been a crazy run and it’s our way of giving back and showing the world it can be a kinder, better place.”
See, they were already a multi-million act before America’s Got Talent. Additionally, they were huge on the college circuit and were even featured on the cover of USA Today. They won National Act of the Year, a record-breaking six times. They were on that circuit for seven years so when America’s Got Talent came around, they were prepared for what they were facing. They built a great fan base which definitely helped them succeed on America’s Got Talent, too.
They auditioned in Boston and then Las Vegas. At the time they were the highest placing non-singing act in the show’s history. Spencer said, “We kind of broke the mold as far as production. We were the only real true Vegas act in that Cirque/Blue Man Group genre. America’s Got Talent’s been a great thing for us and opened doors to a lot of different things.”
Justin Spencer has been a drummer since he was 2 years old. He saw a kid playing on the streets of New York City, playing a bucket — this was before internet. Spencer started a band in 1995, playing on buckets for his local talent show. They placed second and lost to a juggler. It’s a sore subject, Spencer said laughing, “His mom was one of the judges—total scam. I’m still bitter about it 20 years later. He thought it would be a one time thing. Someone suggested they play at local schools. They made $100 here and there. He started the band with his cousin, best friend and roommate, Ryan “Mr. Blue” Vezina. They decided they could make some money doing this and stuck with it. They were right.
Spencer said, “Ryan and I are the main guys of the band and the creative forces behind it.” The show is primarily the four guys but they’ve added dancers and guitar players. He added, “We have a very versatile performance. We have hours of material. Some shows are based around comedy with a lot of humor.”
For the World Cup Justin Spencer said, “They’re going to see the most high energy band they’ve ever seen. We’re jumping off 12-foot ladders backwards, we’re using power tools that shoot flames. It’s going to be throwback rock and roll 80s style. We’re going to have a fun time.”
They still perform in Vegas, just not regularly. They’ve spent the past year focusing on the show and now the stores. Justin Spencer said, “It’s been a very rewarding experience. Half the store is Chaos and half Kindness. There’s a lot of product but also a room where you can smash glass, drum room where you can play along with their Vegas show, kids can make massive things with slime, people can write letters to sick people around the world. When you go there’s a total vibe. There’s a lot of mental health aspects to it. I’m a big proponent of all things associated with mental health. Yes there’s clothing at the store but it’s secondary to the experience of the people going there.”
Spencer knows he was born to do this.
He said, “At age 5 when kids were building castles with Legos, I was envisioning concert stages and lights. I was putting flashlights on and lights off, putting Pink Floyd’s The Wall on. I grew up exposed to music. We’re a drug and alcohol free band so we get our high on stage. I live my whole life, all the training, rehearsals that we do all come together for that one 60 min experience on stage. We love it.”