Courtesy of Kyle Lamere
When concert promoter Ben Hamilton heard the single “Ghosts” off Chicago-based ON AN ON’s debut album, “Give In,” he felt he had to bring the band to Columbus.
“I really liked that song a lot,” said Hamilton, owner of Columbus-based booking and promotion agency Benco Presents. “When I heard the rest of the songs (on “Give In”) I went looking for their agent. I thought that the good, concert-going population of Columbus, Ohio, would appreciate them.”
Columbus will have that chance this week when ON AN ON comes to the Rumba CafÃ© on Thursday at 10 p.m.
The band began when the group Scattered Trees ended.
Everything was set for Scattered Trees to record its fourth album, when two of its members suddenly decided to split because of creative differences in March 2012. Having already booked studio time, the three remaining members found themselves in a situation.
“We had been ready and sort of poised to do another record, and a couple people from that band just decided that they didn’t want to do it anymore, that they didn’t like the way it was going,” said Nate Eiesland, both groups’ lead vocalist and guitarist. “So it kind of dissolved and the three of us were left with a decision: ‘do we keep this thing going?'”
The three bandmates, Eiesland, keyboardist and vocalist Alissa Ricci and bassist and vocalist Ryne Estwing, chose to stick together. Their next step was to ditch the name Scattered Trees and the creative constrictions it imposed so they could make music from a clean slate, Eiesland said.
“We went in with the complete freedom of like, this is a brand new band. Nobody knows about it; there isn’t this fanbase that we have to please or anything like that,” Eiesland said.
And so the band used the studio time previously reserved for Scattered Trees to record its first album as ON AN ON, a name Eiesland said was chosen because it suited the group’s atmospheric sonic style.
“The name was, in hindsight, I think more something that is definitive of the atmosphere that we wanted to make music in – something less finite and something that sort of kept going, and maybe had a momentum of its own,” Eiesland said.
However, he doesn’t always stick with that story when asked.
“Sometimes I make up complicated stories to sound more interesting, but the truth of it is just that we were thinking of band names and it was a good name,” Eiesland said. “We all liked it, and we all responded to it right away when it was brought up. But it wasn’t too complicated.”
Eiesland said ON AN ON has never played Columbus.
“There are a lot of places that we haven’t played yet, so we’re really excited,” he said.
Eiesland described the ON AN ON live experience as complex.
“We try to keep (our concerts) pretty abstract,” Eiesland said. “‘Immersive’ is the word, I guess. We try to create this experience that you kind of get lost in.”
Theo Perry, local guitarist and head of electric-soul band Theo’s Loose Hinges, said Rumba CafÃ©’s setting is good for such an “immersive” experience, having performed at the venue many times himself.
“They’re about quality,” Perry said. “It’s a very intimate club. You can get the large show feel in a small setting basically, so you get the best of both worlds. The sound quality is always on. They always hire the best sound men and engineers.”
Rumba CafÃ© is located at 2507 Summit St. Tickets are $6.99 in advance and $7 day of show, according to Benco Presents’ website. There is a $2 cover charge for those under 21.