Hockey band 'Shorthanded' in name only
Published: Monday, May 16, 2005
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 00:06
Not satisfied with simply succeeding on ice, members of the Ohio State men's hockey team have taken their talents to another arena.
They formed a band.
Shorthanded, named after a situation in hockey when one team has more players on the ice because of a penalty, played its first public concert Saturday night in the Browsing Room at Morrill Tower. Surrounded by teammates, girlfriends and Morrill residents, the band played a 50-minute set consisting of covers and original songs almost exclusively penned by lead singer/guitarist Johann Kroll.
Kroll, who received his first guitar from his grandmother when he was in the fourth grade, said he has only been writing songs for the past two years. He has "around 15" songs finished, with an equal number in the works.
"I try to play with chords," he said about his approach to songwriting. "Sometimes I'll find something I like, then I'll throw words in that go with the melody. I can't sit down and make myself write a song; (they) come at the most random times."
Shorthanded is comprised of Kroll, bassist Tyson Strachan, guitarist JB Bittner and drummer John Dingle. Dingle and Kroll are freshmen, and knew each other before they came to OSU.
"When I found out he was coming here too, I told him to bring his (drums) down with him," Kroll said. "Then we found out that (Bittner) and (Strachan) play too."
Kroll said the band had a difficult time finding time to practice during the season, but has managed to rehearse 3-4 times a week for the last two months.
"For the most part I write all the music," Kroll said. "Dingle's such a good drummer that he finds his parts easier. He has a real big part in the songwriting process."
The first song the band played was a song nicknamed "Dingle's Song" because he wrote nearly all the lyrics, Kroll said.
When Shorthanded took the stage, they were led by Kroll, who started off with an instrumental jam. He then introduced each of the members, who joined him and began playing with him.
"(There's) more people than I thought," he said to the crowd before launching into a cover of Jack Johnson's "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing."
While the covers the band played were nearly spot-on, the original tunes received the best response from the crowd. "Cancun," written about a spring break trip to the city, describes the stereotypical spring break memories: drinking, hitting on girls and "don't need a shower/there's the pool I'm jumpin' in."
"Most trips to Cancun are pretty crazy," Kroll said to the crowd, adding that the song was partly written before the trip and partly afterwards.
Senior goalie Dave Caruso joined the band onstage and added harmonica to "Say Goodbye," a Kroll original that sounded strikingly similar to "Hideaway" by Fuel. Strachan, a junior defenseman, also played harmonica during "Bubbletoes," another Jack Johnson cover.
Kroll's songs reflect his musical preferences. His playing style reflects Johnson while his vocals sound like a cross between Johnson and Dave Matthews. Coupled with his teammates onstage, Shorthanded has a definite college-band feel similar to o.a.r. and Dave Matthews Band.
The band's covers ranged from Better Than Ezra's "Good" to Ben Harper's "Steal My Kisses" to an up-tempo "Wonderwall" by Oasis - sung in a different key to better fit Kroll's voice.
"There's nothing worse than a band that butchers a classic song," he said.
But it was show-closer "The Toast" that earned the most applause.
"This toast is to all our great years/little things that'll remind us of the time that we spent here/and to the days that are to come/and for the love I have for each and everyone that is here," Kroll sang while audience members mouthed the words along with him.
Bittner said the band plans to play more concerts in the next few weeks at local bars and will have a big end-of-the-year concert in the backyard of a house some of the teammates live in.
"We're just a bunch of hockey guys who like music," Kroll said.