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Masters of the Hemisphere hoping to master Columbus

Courtesy of Nick Canada

Indie-pop rock band Masters of the Hemisphere will be performing at Carabar in Columbus Tuesday in support of its first studio album in more than eight years, “Maybe These Are the Breaks,” which was released Oct. 4.

The quartet is comprised of Bren Mead, Sean Rawls, Adrian Finch and Jeff Griggs. The lead vocals are split between Mead and Rawls depending on the song. The two also alternate between playing guitar and bass. Finch is the multi-instrumentalist of the group, playing everything from synthesizer to violin. Griggs plays the drums.

Masters of the Hemisphere sounds like a mix between OAR and The Shins. The steady, upbeat guitar strumming is complemented by light vocals.

Masters of the Hemisphere formed when Mead and Rawls moved to Athens, Ga., in 1996. There they met Ryan Lewis, who had just started the independent record label Kindercore Records. Together they worked on building a band.

Masters of the Hemisphere released three studio albums before peacefully parting ways in 2002.

“We had a really friendly breakup, if you could even call it that,” Mead said. “We’ve been able to get back together every once in a while and play a show.”

This most recent reunion for the new album has been in the making for a few years now. The process began when Griggs emailed the other members of the band suggesting that they record new material together.

“Originally we were toying with the idea of making a secret record,” Mead said. “Maybe we wouldn’t even put it out, it’d be just for grins.”

However, after the band recorded a few demos, they got the idea of releasing the material as a digital album, so they sent the tracks to Kindercore Records.

Kindercore was impressed with the new material and convinced Masters of the Hemisphere to release the album in the traditional CD format.

“So we started off really with no goals for it (the record),” Mead said. “Then by the end we were like ‘Well, this is way better than we thought it was gonna be.’ It ended up being something that we wanted to do a little tour to support.”

Though the tour is short, spanning only 12 days, with a show every night, the band is staying busy.

When the tour is over, the future of band remains uncertain.

“Literally we may never play again,” Mead said. “Or we could have a new album out in like a year, and then another one. It could go either way.”

Mead’s method of songwriting has always been to strum his guitar and sing whatever comes to mind.

“It’s hard to explain I guess but the songs just find themselves that way,” Mead said, explaining that neither the melody nor the harmony comes first. Rather, they grow together.

This is what makes the lyrics admirable to some fans.

“I feel like the lyrics speak more to me than the masses,” said Rachel Helton, a fourth-year in social work.

When comparing Masters of the Hemisphere’s new material with their older songs, it is noticeable that even after years, they have retained their original sound. Though this might be in part, due to the nine-year split, some say this also adds to their appeal.

“I don’t like it when bands change their sound from when they started to try and fit the mainstream,” said Collin Johnson, a fourth-year in social work. “I like it when a band will play what they want and not do what everyone thinks they should do, even if it’s not what’s going to get them popular.”

By incorporating heavy amounts of stage banter into their sets, Masters of the Universe tries to make sure everybody in attendance is having a good time.

“When it’s funny, people can get more into it and feel more comfortable heckling us and laughing,” Mead said. “I recommend that everybody come out to that show early and get some chili dogs and do some shots with us and have a good time.”

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