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The Ritual Tones finds footing in Ohio State’s Smith Hall, spreads sound through Columbus

Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor

This is part of our weekly series titled “Columbus’ Own,” where we profile a local band every Thursday.

The sporadic sound of guitar strums and jabber over how to untangle cords filled an unusual venue Thursday as The Ritual Tones was setting up for arguably one of its most outlandish gigs yet: playing in a lecture hall.

The different setting didn’t seem to affect drummer Tom Bina’s groove, though. Donning yellow sunglasses, he kicked off his shoes in front of his drumset and played in his socks.

Being that he’s been in and out of lecture halls on Ohio State’s campus the past few years, it could be reasoned he was just comfortable in an academic setting. Or maybe it was just that the fourth-year in mechanical engineering is comfortable with his roommates and fellow band members of The Ritual Tones.

“I’d say the majority of what we play is more house shows than anything else,” Bina said.

“That’s how we started,” chimed in guitarist and vocalist Jordan Hawkins, a fourth-year in computer engineering and business.

Formed Winter Quarter 2010 in Smith Hall, the band is also comprised of bassist Cliff Fox, a fourth-year in accounting, and guitarist and vocalist Alex Martinez, a fourth-year in aerospace engineering.

“When I came to college, that was one goal, was to play in a band,” Martinez said.

Bina, who was in a band in high school, said he never really intended to join one in college. But after meeting Martinez – he was playing Red Hot Chili Peppers on the guitar with Bina’s roommate – the thought of joining a band became more appealing.

After Hawkins teamed up with them and later Fox, the group had to come up with a name.

Through pairing random words together and Googling, they settled on The Ritual Tones. Bina said there wasn’t any meaning behind the name at first, but now he’s developed his own interpretation of it.

“I (think) about it as like when you come home from having a bad day or something and all you want to do is lay in your bed and chill and turn on a song that you love, that’s your ritual tone,” Bina said.

The members have also developed their own stage names since making a name for the band.

Martinez goes by Marty and Bina by Bom Tina, whereas Hawkins and Fox have a bit more colorful titles.

Fox goes by Spliff, something that he said has stuck with him since seventh grade.

“To tell you the truth, I’ve been called that from forever ago because it rhymes with Cliff,” he said. “It’s more like a casual nickname from friends.”

Martinez deemed Hawkins as H-Clap.

“It probably has to do with my last name starting with an ‘H,'” Hawkins said. “I think it’s just a very catchy name.”

Martinez said he came up with it when he was making a Facebook event for the band’s first gig at Ruby Tuesday. That show, he added, was one of his most memorable with the band due to some friends getting kicked out for underage drinking and a friend mischievously collecting cover charges at the door.

He also said the Mirror Lake Amphitheater is one of his favorite places to play.

“Ever since I came to college here and saw the Mirror Lake Amphitheater I was like, ‘It is my dream to play there,'” Martinez said. “That was one of my goals in college and we’ve done it twice.”

Hawkins said his favorite show was a gig at Bernie’s Distillery when two people booked three bands, including The Ritual Tones, for the same night, one of which was a death metal band that had a tad heavier sound than The Ritual Tones.

“When we found out that all those bands were coming we were like, ‘We want to go first so we don’t have to follow (the death metal) guys’,” Hawkins said.

Bina said his favorite show was one that got shut down by police at the OSU snow ski club’s house because they didn’t have a noise permit. Hawkins laughed and said he liked the show because when the cops showed up someone yelled, “Play ‘F— the Police,'” and Bina actually started playing the song on the drums.

When the prospect came up of continuing making those memories and pursuing The Ritual Tones as a career after college, all eyes turned toward Hawkins.

“I’m the first one to graduate in May,” Hawkins said, mentioning he has a job lined up with power management company Eaton Corporation.

Martinez said they don’t like to think about Hawkins leaving or whether the band will continue on without him.

Bina seemed to have a plan though.

“We are going to make it big before Jordan ever gets out of college,” he said. “That is what’s going to happen. That’s the plan.”

Hawkins assured that no matter what happens, he’ll always continue playing music.

“I think it’s safe to say you never stop pursuing music,” he said. “You do it as much as possible. I don’t have any concrete plans, but still want to keep writing and playing.”

The band is scheduled to release its first four-song EP “Creamy White Thighs” this month, Martinez said.

The Ritual Tones is slated to next perform 8 p.m. Wednesday at Skully’s Music-Diner, located at 1151 N. High St and then 9 p.m. Thursday at Ruby Tuesday, located at 1978 Summit St.

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