Connect with us

Music

Leaders of the New School

When talking to kids half your age about music, it’s easy to become a disillusioned oldie or an impatient curmudgeon when faced with their lack of knowledge (how dare they not know the 1991 debut from Basehead?) Or, you can become infinitely tired of the unreachable hope that youth will master pop music and save [...]
Kevin J. Elliott

Published

on

When talking to kids half your age about music, it’s easy to become a disillusioned oldie or an impatient curmudgeon when faced with their lack of knowledge (how dare they not know the 1991 debut from Basehead?)

Or, you can become infinitely tired of the unreachable hope that youth will master pop music and save us all.

I will forsake the member from Stems who instantly proclaimed his desert island disc to be a selection from the Red Hot Chili Peppers—that’s just wrong.

But I suppose these are facts we all must live with.

Fortunately, for the most part, Stems know their roots, or have cut them, finding the spark of creation and invention that very few “high school” bands find when they are simply, and quite literally, experimenting in the lab.

At the Arts and Preparatory Academy (or ACPA) in Columbus, on-the-pulse, upstart bands are becoming a regular thing. In this high school, it’s a part of the curriculum that you start a band, book your own shows, and develop your own following. For Stems, the class known as “Band Lab,” (coincidentally enough taught by Corbezzolo’s Noah Demland), was an easy A—the class they couldn’t wait to become seniors in order to take.

“The first week of Band Lab you don’t play at all,” says Stems guitarist Mickey Shuman. “You brainstorm some names, and you have a couple of show-and-tells where you write about songs that really inspire you, and then finally you pick who’s in your band.”

But, knowing full and well about the concept of Band Lab, the kids in Stems already had their lineup preconceived. There was little thought into what it would become, just hopes that in spontaneous combustion a live hip-hop conglomerate would become an alternative to the norm. The very thrifty quartet, including Kendall Martin as emcee, Shuman as guitarist, Dante Montoto on bass and Zach Pennington on drums, knew their function from the outset. It just sounded like an airtight solution to stale ideas in the music world—an arena from which to be ambitious and actually think outside the clichéd box. And it worked.

“I think, as corny as it sounds,” says the band’s incredibly confident lyricist Martin (who moonlights on Soundcloud as Kid-Naps), “we knew we had something special.”

“The best thing about that class—because it’s a class—” remembers Shuman, “is you can’t quit your band. If you’re not into it you can’t quit your band because it was, like, your grade. You had to navigate through differing opinions to make something happen.”

Conceptually, Stems were unashamedly aiming to copy The Roots—hence the name Stems – though most of the members admit to never listening to The Roots before starting the band. Though the idea may have started in innocent jest, the execution was dead serious, a melding of bold riffs, jazzed beats, and abstract, backpack rhymes. It’s uncomfortable for those who aren’t ready for the unexpected; namely, very studied grooves interrupted by oblong lyrics, party-stopping refrains, surf-n’-Nerf, and long diatribes about dating Malia Obama.

“It was kind of wobbly, crinkly, and sometimes crusty,” says Shuman. “We didn’t really model it after anything. We just wanted to rip off what we liked, which are things that don’t go together. In the end, we passed the class. We wrote the songs and got the grade we wanted from Noah. He would give us a lot of constructive criticism though. To make what we were doing better. So it kept going.”

Nearly a year graduated from ACPA, the band has recorded and will release their debut, Out of Fear, this month. In all respects, it’s earnest, ambitious, and awkward at the same time – the essence of teenage/adulthood purgatory. For a moment, as on Martin’s autobiographical “Momma’s Crib,” it’s painfully honest, then it’s invigoratingly post-modern, in the Mac DeMarco-meets-jazzbo-meets-Rage confluence of “Fast,” and despite any green faults or minor-league mistakes, it feels like a step into the future.

“People wanted to call it jazz-hop, and there’s a lot of great jazz and hip-hop, but that’s not who we are,” says Martin.

The conversation then devolves into just exactly where Stems fit at the present moment. Jazz-hop? Bassist Montoto is headed to Northwestern in the fall on a mechanical engineering scholarship, the classically trained Pennington could easily sit in with combos the world over (and currently backs up Counterfeit Madison), Shuman is lamenting the on-again-off-again relationship of his once white-hot band Inner Mikey, and Martin just keeps writing. In a lot of ways, Stems feels like a stepping stone, or that lightning in a bottle that you have to cherish completely in the now. Then again…Stems just want to have fun—a mode where they can take it all in stride and call it whatever they want.

“I saw Kid Rock once,” says Pennington. “My dad went through a phase where he liked Kid Rock a lot, so I was there to support him.’

And such is the problem, or perhaps, the remedy that is youth. They know the danger, and it’s good for the common good to dream, and like Icarus, they are entirely alright with flying too close to the sun.

Badwitaba. Amen.

Stems will celebrate the release of Out of Fear on Friday, March 23 at Kafé Kerouac. Visit wheremyzootsuit.bandcamp.com for music and more information.

Continue Reading

Music

Local rocker Angela Perley shines on solo debut

Mike Thomas

Published

on

This article was originally published in the September 2019 issue of (614) Magazine.

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.

Continue Reading

(614) Sessions

614 Sessions: Doc Robinson

Mike Thomas

Published

on

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
———
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

Continue Reading

(614) Sessions

(614) Sessions: The Turbos

Mike Thomas

Published

on

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!

———

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

Continue Reading

No mo’ FOMO

Missing out sucks. That's why our daily email is so important. You'll be up-to-date on the latest happenings and things to do in Cbus + be the first to snag our daily giveaways

Shop Now!

The Magazines

X