Grant Reigner plays a variety of instruments and is a songwriter for the music project Surprise Asteroid. Photo provided.
Grant Reigner plays a variety of instruments and is a songwriter for the music project Surprise Asteroid. Photo provided.
When Grant Reigner saw an opportunity through crowdfunding to work with a musical hero of his, he donated the money for the chance to lay down a track with John Mark Painter.

On Aug. 17, that single, “Break Your Curse,” was released through Reigner’s music project, Surprise Asteroid.

Painter’s band, Fleming & John, was signed by Universal Records, and Painter has worked with a variety of artists including  Ben Folds. “Break Your Curse” also features Bobby Huff on drums. Huff has written songs for and produced bands like Saliva, Shinedown and 3 Doors Down.

Reigner, 36, Warsaw, originally from Milwaukee, Wis., plays a variety of instruments on Surprise Asteroid and is one of the songwriters. The project idea was formed in 2009.

He said Surprise Asteroid is viewed more as a music project than a band.

“There are a few other groups out there who have a similar organization to us, and one of the most famous ones is called .fun. They’ve had a few smash hits recently. So we have rotating members. Right now, we have two core members, but we like to collaborate. So our thing is, we’ll work with somebody for a song, or we’ll work with them for an album, and then maybe the next project we’ll work with somebody else.”

Along with Reigner, the other core member of the music project is Joby Adams, who is from Claypool but now lives in Omaha, Neb.

“It’s a less permanent set-up and more dynamic and a little more exciting for us as songwriters,” Reigner said.

He said he’s been a part of bands in the past, but it was difficult to keep so many people together permanently. He wanted to keep writing music and keep producing high-quality projects though, without having to rely on somebody committing their life to a band.

“So, to solve that, I intentionally set out to do something a little different, and I came across some other bands that had done that, or group sessions that say they come together when the time is right, and they make something, and then they go back to doing their thing. It’s seemed to work out so far,” he said.

Surprise Asteroid released a full-length album, “It’s Time To Run,” in 2011 on various digital and physical formats at places like Karma Records and Amazon.com.

The album had 12 tracks and was recorded at DigiTracks in Fort Wayne.

After working on the album, Surprise Asteroid had planned to go on a tour to promote it. The tour included big Midwest cities like Chicago, Omaha, Indianapolis,?maybe Nashville and Cleveland. That tour felt apart when Adams was unexpectedly called to serve in Afghanistan.

Adams first deployed with the U.S. Army Reserves in early 2011. He was in Afghanistan when Osama Bin Laden was killed, according to Reigner. Adams is currently with the U.S. Army Reserves serving as a staff sergeant with the 530th Military Police BN out of Elkhorn, Neb.

“It cut short the tour, but we were still able to go forward with the album. So unfortunately we lost some momentum there as far as getting known and getting our names out there as a project,” Reigner said.

Adams served overseas for several years, and now serves in the reserves.

Reigner said they’ve been talking about putting something new out for awhile. They’ve continued to write songs over the years and have amassed a catalog of them. They decided to dip their toes back in the water and get some music out there.

“The catalyst was, I had an opportunity to work with this producer, who did our single, and his name was John Mark Painter,” Reigner said. “This is a guy who I followed since I was in high school.”

Painter’s band, Fleming & John, had a few minor hits.

“I knew about him when I was very young, and I’ve just been dying for him to produce more music. He’s a session player, so he plays on other people’s albums all the time. Huge, huge names like you wouldn’t believe. And he also produces musicians. Well, he decided to work on a new original project, so finally after all of these years, I was very excited to hear that. Through that news that came down that he was going to work on a project, I actually reached out and contacted him,” Reigner recalled.

Painter had a crowdfunding site for his new project. One of the rewards for financially supporting Painter’s new music through the site was to work with him, which Reigner said was his dream. There were only one or two slots available and Reigner made a donation to take one of those slots.

“Fortunately, I was there day one and I reached out to him and said, ‘Hey, how is this going to work? What are the details?’ And he told me that everything sounded great, so I went ahead and did it. I had to take advantage, there was no way that I was going to pass that up,” Reigner recalled.

In December, Reigner worked in Painter’s Nashville studio, called IHOF, which is located in Painter’s home, on “Break Your Curse.” Painter’s title on the single was producer.

“I went in with the attitude of ‘what he says, goes,’” Reigner said. “Plus, he has far more experience than me and he has far more talent than I do. This guy can play any type of instrument. And when I say that, I’m not exaggerating. I’m telling the truth. He specializes in everything, so he plays brass, he plays woodwinds, he plays strings, he plays percussion. He could be an entire orchestra if you give him time to lay everything down.”

Painter called Huff in as a session drummer who he thought could do better than he could on the drums. “That was the first decision that he made, to bring this guy in, and then he and I did all the rest. So we filled out all the rest of the instrumentation, so there’s just three players on the track,” Reigner said.

On the track, Reigner played a few different guitars and sang lead vocals.

“Break Your Curse” came from a place “maybe seeing issues in somebody else’s life who you are close with, and that desire to fix those problems. There’s a couple different ways that could go. One, you could reach out and say that to a person and they could be receptive and you could offer advice. Second thing could be, you’ve got a whole host of your own problems and you really shouldn’t be giving out advice. But the song is more about that desire,” he said.

The single, released Thursday, is a digital-only release. The only places to get it are the major online retailers and a few minor ones, he said.

“It is worldwide, so this is a song you could even get if you’re in China. We released to about 30 different storefronts, obviously the big players being Google Play, iTunes and Amazon Music. It’s everywhere,” Reigner said.

Eventually, he said, the plan is to “do more,” and the single is just Surprise Asteroid just dipping their toes into the water.

“I think, the next thing we’re looking at today, if you’re asking me today, is putting out another recording with more songs. I feel like it would be best if we were going to tour or play live to have a bigger catalog of songs that people could know ahead of time before they come out to a show. We may have 50 songs, but we’ve only released 13 with the single,” he said.

Surprise Asteroid’s website can be found at surpriseasteroid.com.