Basehor firefighter also making it big in a local band
Basehor Washing down the sides of one of the Fairmount Township Fire Department fire trucks on a Monday morning, Brandon Magaha looks like any of the other firefighters at the station.
But serving the Basehor area as a part-time firefighter is just one of the passions Magaha is finding time for in his life. His other passion is hard to guess if you see him at the station that he grew up around.
Brandon is a member of the band Get Busy Living, and Magaha is getting very busy. The band signed a record deal with Mosaic Artistry Group of Nashville, Tenn., in January and are touring Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and other surrounding regions every weekend. The band recently played two sets in March at the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.
"It hasn't hit us yet," Brandon said of the recent success.
The Get Busy Living band formed in 2011 and plays punk rock in the vane of Blink 182, Mayday Parade and A Day To Remember. Brandon didn't join the group until December, just one month before they landed the record deal.
"It still just seems like four guys having fun, making music," Brandon said.
Every Friday for the past several months, Brandon and his bandmates Chase Peterson and Jonny Welch of Manhattan, Kan., and Jeff Hilty of Kansas City, Kan., pack up their gear, plan their trip and hit the road to tour in a green 3500 Chevy van. They drive to cities within an 8-hour radius of Kansas City and perform Friday and Saturday nights.
"The van is literally our home," Brandon said.
And in that van, Brandon and the band have developed a familial relationship. It's similar to, but also very different from the family he says he has at the Fairmount Township Fire Department. His father, Chuck Magaha, is the Assistant Fire Chief.
"This is my steady family, and the band is my crazy, dysfunctional family," Brandon laughed.
Along with being a firefighter, Brandon's father Chuck was also a musician. Brandon said his dad played drums in a Celtic band in Maryland before moving to Kansas. Although music was always in the background, firefighting was the family's main passion.
"Basically, I had my diapers changed in a fire truck," Brandon said.
Brandon's older brother Josh Magaha followed in his father's footsteps as well and is now a firefighter in Kansas City, Kan. Brandon works part-time at the Fairmount Township station while studying to earn his paramedic and emergency medical technician degree from the Kansas City Kansas Community College.
"I really just want to give back to a community that has given so much to me," Brandon said.
Brandon, 25, graduated from Basehor-Linwood High School in 2006. He played the drums for the school's jazz band and trumpet in the school band. After his high school graduation, he pursued a vocational technical degree from Johnson County Community College in audio engineering. Drums continued to be his main focus as he also played in the college's jazz band as a percussionist.
"I've always had a guitar, which is kind of weird to think about now," Brandon said. "But I was always just good at drums, so that's what I stuck with."
That is until his new band members convinced him to join them as a guitarist. Brandon joined lead singer Peterson, drummer Welsch and bassist Hilty to complete the high-energy group.
Get Busy Living's first album was released on the Internet at the end of January and has since been reviewed by magazines around the world, including Australia's Blunt Magazine, Absolute Punk and Alternative Press. Their music is carried on iTunes and Spotify. A music video for their song "Unfamiliar" is on YouTube and has tallied more than 1,500 views.
Brandon said the band, through the management of their record company, is in the works on planning larger tours and has discussed a future 30-day, nationwide tour.
"I'm starting to realize this is becoming something bigger," Brandon said.