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Indie to the Indie

Is there an antidote for indie rock? My editors have made it clear that they’re tiring of pictures of “sad-looking hipster bands.” But there are so many – and so many are actually worth your time. But I suppose it is difficult to find much new or dissimilar in the raw mettle of Columbus indie [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

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Is there an antidote for indie rock?

My editors have made it clear that they’re tiring of pictures of “sad-looking hipster bands.” But there are so many – and so many are actually worth your time. But I suppose it is difficult to find much new or dissimilar in the raw mettle of Columbus indie rock. So is there an “indie” to the indie? An “undie?”

If anyone has the inspired enthusiasm of wide-eyed pop romantics with the ability to transcend current conceits…right now…at this moment…it’s Pretty Pretty. Take this line from “Too Kind” as proof: “Close your eyes and float away/relax your mind don’t use your brain/escape this space and time.” It rings like a mantra for the band. There’s a sense of purity, an unbridled urge to tear down the tedium of boredom with cathartic glee.

A lot of that passion comes directly from their “play anywhere, anytime” tactics. Both guitarist Evan Wolff and bassist Larry TV – who share the shouted male/female vocals – would rather be on a stage or writing songs together than sitting in for this interview. Early on when the band started in 2012, along with drummer Jon Washington, Pretty Pretty shows were more word-of-mouth invites at places like the Legion of Doom, VVK, or Monster House, rather than formal shows.

“When you aren’t old enough to go to bars, you just have the party at your own house,” said Wolff. “The house show has a magical vibe, cutting out the establishment of curfews, age limits, and alcohol. But playing wherever is fine. That’s the point. That’s the payoff.”

“It was a rite of passage,” added TV.

Though house shows are still part of the equation, Pretty Pretty has recently graduated to recording their paeans to good times. The recently released Leather Weather single is a perfect encapsulation of positive vibes that defines the band. Their influences are homegrown and fairly transparent – be it ’90s mall punk for the basket-case indifference or ’70s power pop for the melodies. Wolff refers to the surge of “region rock” in places like Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Denton, Texas, where bands have formed collective scenes of their own creation, all rallying around a common sonic expression, as a huge inspiration.

The I-71 corridor connecting Cincinnati and Columbus now has its own incestuous community of “region rock,” including bands from both spheres – Sega Genocide, Delay, Goners, Tweens, Vacation – mining a similar racket of sugary pop songs spiked with the attitude and tenets of punk and D.I.Y. culture. Within that gang there’s a fan-club spirit for each other that fuels a healthy one-upmanship. Each new show or recording feeds off what they just heard from their peers.

“It’s music that’s beyond the music. It’s a lot of friends playing in other friends’ bands. Triumphant music that celebrates, that’s groovy. That’s really inspiring.”
To hear Wolff and TV gush about the vitality within that scene is endearing, almost to a fault. Kittens, raindrops, weekend tours with cheap beer – is there anything that could spoil the band’s childlike optimism?

“Too many pedals and not enough songs,” concludes Wolff. As resident doorman at Ace of Cups, he sees endless bands that spend too much time and money at Guitar Center, and not enough experiencing life and writing quality songs about such adventures.
“Seeing a band just plug straight in and rip your face off with straightforward honesty and no bull is incredible,” he said. •

For more information on Pretty Pretty visit www.prettypretty.bandcamp.com.

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Local rocker Angela Perley shines on solo debut

Mike Thomas

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Folk, alt-country, or indie rock—however you choose to categorize her sound, Angela Perley remains a pillar of the Columbus music community—and highly in-demand as a national touring act, to boot.

(614) caught up with Perley to discuss her new album, life on the road, and what it takes to make it as a musician in the Capital City.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

(614): YOUR NEW RELEASE, 4:30, IS YOUR FIRST AS A SOLO ACT. WHAT LED TO THIS CHANGE?

AP: Since 2009 until last year, I had the Howlin’ Moons. It’s always been myself, Chris Connor on lead guitar, and then we had bassist Billy Zehnal in the band up until last year. We’ve had a rotating extended family of drummers. Billy’s not in the band anymore, and we were also on Vital Companies, which is a studio/label in Columbus that did our previous albums.

https://open.spotify.com/album/04pKByd2ygDHXdvl1TcdWP?si=6njCmRpfR5GRWe5kLNghVw

So this one—it’s a solo one, it’s my first independent release. There’s no label involved, I own the masters to the songs. It’s hard to keep a band together, so Chris, who’s been in the band since the beginning, and I, we’re kind of the only members, and we have an extended family of really great and talented people who have other projects they’re in. It just works a lot better with what I want to do.

YOU USED KICKSTARTER TO HELP FUND THE ALBUM. WHAT WAS THE CROWDFUNDING EXPERIENCE LIKE?

Before, with Vital, they had a studio and video production, and they took care of all of our recording in-house. We didn’t realize how expensive everything was. We had paid for studio time [for 4:30] through show money, but to look at all of the other expenses of making a record happen and trying to get it out there, it’s pretty intense! There have been a lot of independent artists that we know that will do Kickstarters, and I’ve never done anything like it before, so I was really nervous doing it. But it was a success, and I actually just finished sending out all of the preorder vinyl that people ordered.

YOUR SOUND IS OFTEN DESCRIBED AS ANYTHING FROM AMERICANA, TO ALT-COUNTRY, TO PSYCHEDELIC ROCK. WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING WITHIN THOSE TRADITIONS IN 2019?

You kind of have to make your own path, because although there is a resurgence of rock ‘n’ roll, everything’s been done before. It has those roots, but we’re not breaking the mold or anything. You just have to be true to yourself and to the music, and just go from there. Everyone’s voice is important as an artist, so that’s important to remember.

YOU’RE ON THE ROAD TOURING QUITE A BIT. DO YOU STILL KEEP TRACK OF WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE COLUMBUS MUSIC SCENE?

Columbus is definitely growing, and moving toward doing things independently. I’ve seen a lot of bands touring, which is good. It’s an affordable place to tour out of, and there’s a community here for sure. Whenever I have a chance, we go out to the shows. We love The Cordial Sins, and we’re having them as our special guests for our album release. The High Definitions, Souther—there are just so many good bands.

When I go to other cities and I realize that there’s not really much of a scene going on, it is kind of cool to see that in Columbus, people are very aware and supportive of musicians. Even the businesses around here, everyone’s trying to work with musicians in some way. There are so many gigs, be it at breweries, at restaurants, or little festivals that pop up. There’s work for musicians here. And some other cities, there’s really not.

IN THE PAST, YOU’VE PLAYED SOMETHING LIKE 150 SHOWS A YEAR. ARE YOU KEEPING UP THE SAME PACE THESE DAYS?

I’m glad that we played that many shows at that time. We were playing anywhere and everywhere, and a lot of that was pressure financially. If that’s the way you’re making a living, you’ve got to take every gig. We’ve spread out the shows since, especially since we have been doing it for this long. We’re kind of gearing more towards quality shows. I will say, playing that many shows—I needed that. We needed the experience, and just the repetition. Every venue is different, every environment, every crowd. You cut your teeth and it makes you stronger.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO LOCAL ARTISTS HOPING TO MAKE A CAREER IN MUSIC?

It’s tough, because for each person it’s so different. Getting out there and working hard, playing as many shows as possible—that's all really great experience. But also focus on the music itself. If you’re going to make a music video or a recording, take your time—don’t half-ass it. Wait until you know what you’re doing. Although, you kind of have to learn from your mistakes, too.

Catch Angela Perley with special guests The Cordial Sins on September 6 at Skully’s Music-Diner for the release show of her new album, titled 4:30.

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(614) Sessions

614 Sessions: Doc Robinson

Mike Thomas

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4QdxpbrZgg&feature=youtu.be

Doc Robinson, the collaboration of Columbus music stalwarts Jon Elliott and Nick D’Andrea, joined us for this session in the 614 offices to share their unique brand of "Backyard BBQ Breakup music."

While here, the duo played stripped-down acoustic versions of their songs "Wilderness" and "Wild Beauty."

To hear more from Doc Robinson, follow them on your streaming platform of choice, or visit https://www.docrobinsonofficial.com/

Be sure to catch the group at Woodlands Tavern on Saturday, September 21, when they'll be joined by Hebdo, Parker Louis, Honey and Blue and many more for their Family Jamboree.

Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/artist/5O0efDEpkqEmWbXD2zpkjz

Apple Music:
https://music.apple.com/us/artist/doc-robinson/1116027164
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Producer: Mike Thomas
Videographers: Adam Fakult, Mitch Hooper, Mike Thomas
Audio Mixing/Mastering: Jared Huntley
Video Editing: Mike Thomas
Contact: [email protected]
Website: 614now.com

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(614) Sessions

(614) Sessions: The Turbos

Mike Thomas

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ThYK1D0000

The Turbos’ high-octane heroics have earned the group a fierce following in the Columbus rock scene and beyond. Combining shredding guitar virtuosity with soaring, anthemic vocals, co-frontmen Alex D. and Lucas Esterline lead the group in a sound that combines the best of the old and the new. Rounded out by the multi-talented Cameron Reck on bass and mononymous local music veteran Jahrie behind the kit, the Turbos are leading the charge for a new generation of rockers.

For the first of what we hope will be many in a new music series we're calling The (614) Sessions, The Turbos joined us in our offices for a stripped-down acoustic set. Despite leaving the electrics at home, the power of their performance was still enough to garner multiple noise complaints (sorry, neighbors).

For show dates and more, be sure to follow The Turbos on Facebook. Big thanks to the group for sharing their music as our first-ever guests in this new endeavor!

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Producer: Mike Thomas
Videographers: Mike Thomas, Adam Fakult, Mitch Hooper
Audio Mixing/Mastering: Jared Huntley Video
Editing: Mitch Hooper
Contact: [email protected]

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