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A really big show

Tony Zylka, left, Ryan Jahnz and Derek Reiten are getting ready for the biggest show of their musical careers.2 / 2

The members of Third Supply have come a long way since their first attempt at playing music together.

Tony Zylka, Ryan Jahnz and Derek Reiten were students at Farmington High School then, 16 or 17 years old and more interested in being in a band than in actually being musicians. They had instruments and, with a fourth friend, played under the name Plain Point. But it was more about the look than the music. None of them really knew how to play their instruments, or in some cases even what the instruments were.

"When (Tony) bought I bass, I had no idea what it was," Jahnz said.

Things are different these days.

The band members went their separate ways after they graduated in 2004, but after two years apart Reiten and Jahnz started playing together from time to time. They missed music, they said, and they missed playing together.

After a while, they called Zylka to join them. Reiten, who plays guitar, fell into a role as the band's singer. Zylka played bass and Jahnz was the drummer. The more they played, the better it felt.

"It went from, 'Let's do this for fun a couple times' to, 'Let's get serious,'" Reiten said.

For the band, getting serious meant committing to two practices a week. In the summer, they gather in a metal shed at the Flagstaff Avenue home of Reiten's parents. During the winter, they crowd into a small upstairs bedroom in a friend's rented home in Hampton. The floor bounces as they play, but the only ones around to complain are the cows outside.

The band members started writing songs, working as a team to put words to music. They started getting better, too.

Third Supply played its first concert in Reiten's shed Aug. 17, 2007. More than 100 people showed up, crammed into that metal building. The band had built a stage with donated lumber. Cars were parked up and down Flagstaff Ave. and Reiten said he was surprised nobody called the police.

"It was the craziest thing I've ever seen in my life," he said.

The band played its first official show in January of 2008 at The Garage, an all-ages club operated by the city of Bunsville. Jahnz said he got so nervous he almost left. He stuck it out, though, and the band has been playing regularly ever since at clubs like The Rock in Maplewood and the Fine Line in downtown Minneapolis.

They've started to attract a following, too, with as many as 300 people at some shows and an audience familiar enough with their music to start singing along to the 18 or so songs that get played regularly. The band members have come to love the sound of an audience getting involved in a show.

"They know if they're coming to see us it's gonna be fun," Reiten said.

The band members describe their music as a mixture of their influences -- Reiten's 80s hair metal, Zylka's hardcore metal and Jahnz's softer rock.

"We're not afraid to mix it up," Jahnz said. "We'll play softies for the girls and hard ones to let out some anger."

Big show

That formula is starting to get Third Supply some good attention. On Feb. 12 the band will open for a show by nationally-known band Black Stone Cherry at The Rock.

The Rock's manager called Zylka to book the band. Zylka sat the other two band members down and broke the news to them as if something terrible had happened. When he finally told them about the show everyone went a little crazy.

"We all were jumping off the walls," said Reiten, a fan of the Black Stone Cherry who was planning to be in the audience for the Feb. 12 show. "We were just so giddy. It's like we're opening up for Metallica. That's what it feels like to me."

For days afterward Zylka, Jahnz and Reiten found themselves saying over and over, "We're opening for Black Stone Cherry." And it doesn't feel quite real even now.

The 40-minute show will be the best chance yet for Third Supply to make new fans. Reiten said he plans to stop smoking for a week before the show, and all three plan to practice until they're sick of their songs.

Nobody knows what the show will mean for the band's future. But nobody seems concerned with that. Before Zylka started playing with his friends again he thought about selling his instrument to help pay bills. After the band started practicing his biggest dream was to play a show in Minneapolis. Now they do that regularly. The band has recorded a demo CD and hopes to record a full-length release soon.

"I'm just really happy right now with going to a show and playing a show and even if there's only 20 people there, they're singing a song we wrote," Reiten said.

"We're just doing it because we love what we do," Zylka said.