Humility and modesty aren’t two adjectives one usually associates with psychedelic rock. Yet in the songs of Eternally Dizzy, one has to respect that those qualities exist, as well as the usual indulgence and sonic power inherent in music we might call psych-rock. Here, it’s mannerly bombast, as if I can imagine the band’s core leader, Andre’ Vanderpool, vamping rock moves in the mirror when no one is looking.
Our exchange in a loud, crowded bar is unusually quiet. Clad in a thrift toque and flannel, Vanderpool isn’t one to respond with too much excitement for what he does as a songwriter. He actually embodies the once nascent (in the ’90s anyway) Pacific Northwest slacker vibe. But it’s cool. I get it. It’s when I start asking about guitar heroes when I begin to show (and feel) my age.
“Kurt Cobain,” answers Vanderpool with little restraint. “He’s probably the reason that I started writing songs. I started playing guitar my sophomore year of high school and was only learning Nirvana songs. Nirvana songs are easy to learn, but for some reason they were hard for me. So I just stopped trying to learn songs and started, at least trying, to write my own stuff.”
Dirty Dirt’s finale, “Leonard,” indeed comes straight, as much as inspiration, from the Cobain songbook. In fact it goes further back than Nevermind and reaches for the bleach. A bounty of the “psych” mentioned herein is loaded onto this track. But, in true pop spirit, Vanderpool’s love for the early Beatles – which comes in a very certain second to Nirvana – shines over the gnarly rawness. The song unwinds like the pristine desert of Columbus rock’s current hunger for melody.
Most origin stories in Columbus begin with the members meeting up for the first time at some kind of higher learning institution – be it OSU or CCAD, college breeds bands full of like-minded individuals. There’s been a shift in the last decade, where “transience” turns into “permanence.” You don’t just stop off in our city to go to school anymore. The music scene has become a magnet for hopefuls from far-flung towns in our state, looking to establish an actual “crowd” for the art one seeks to make. Sleep Fleet, in which Vanderpool plays guitar, moved from their home base of Dayton to the more fertile pastures of Columbus’s rock clubs, looking to score. Their endurance has paid off, becoming “locals” as opposed to “transplants” in a span of months (we’ve written about them already in these pages). Vanderpool, eager to sample the same type of exposure with his songs at the weekly Taj Mahal open-mic nights, formed what is now Eternally Dizzy – organically.
“I’ve always had these songs and have always played them acoustic,” Vanderpool said, “but I never had any idea that they would fit with a band and I also didn’t have any idea how to even form a band or get anyone interested in it.”
Luckily, local impresario Joe Camerlengo convinced and assured Vanderpool that a band should form around those songs and that he would play bass. Along with drummer Jeremy Skeen, Eternally Dizzy was born and soon started the recording of the band’s debut, the Dirty Dirt EP.
While Camerlengo and Skeen provide much of the polished backdrop, it’s Vanderpool’s plaintive, indifferent, monotone croon, lounging on vowels exemplar of the record’s hypnotic source. Lyrics about love, death, taxes, and jaywalking. Or solos, like the pseudo-metal scorcher on “Day Today” that then launches into a raging mess of chords and distortion. Everything about the guy’s basic framework is up for interpretation – is it inspired by Built to Spill more than Neil Young? – and usually the results go from pedestrian to epic in a matter of minutes. It’s not complicated, complex, nor brainy in any capacity.
“His songwriting exudes that stream-of-consciousness feel that can’t be faked, which is really inspiring to come across,” Camerlengo said. “It’s all honest and straight-forward. He’s a total trip. It’s like he’s some well-behaved alien from outer space that is decently accustomed with how to behave on planet Earth.”