In an attempt to shine light on local music, The Lantern’s “Columbus’ Own” is a weekly series that will profile a new Columbus band each week.
By day, the members of Kizzy Hall are self-proclaimed office slaves. By night, the Columbus based quintet feeds an endless drive to create through their music.
“(Singer John Herwig) writes songs obsessively, and he records obsessively,” said bassist Eric Pacella.
Herwig’s passion for the band’s music and its members is abundantly clear.
“I do this every night of my life.” Herwig said. “Honestly, I put a lot of effort into this band. This is more effort than I put into my day job. I love these people that I am around right now.”
Kizzy Hall got its start in 2009 when guitarist John Grinstead and Herwig met through a Craigslist advertisement.
“I had a posting, and he emailed me,” Grinstead said. “I met a racist, I met a dude who had never played instruments before, but John was a keeper.”
Guitarist Stefan Knuckles and Pacella had been friends with Herwig through college — Knuckles at Cleveland State University and Pacella at Ohio State.
The addition of drummer Chelsea Simmons occurred unexpectedly at a show at Ace of Cups. During their set, Herwig, who was both singing and drumming at the time, announced they were looking for a drummer and Simmons approached the band at the show’s end.
“She is the best thing that could have happened to our band. I couldn’t have played it out better if I was writing a novel,” Herwig said.
“Better Lifetime movie than me finding my biological father,” Simmons joked.
The band has seen their efforts materialized into their first album “A Touch of Kizzy in the Night,” released in December 2014. Herwig, who writes the lyrics, compared the album writing process to an end-of-semester project.
“On the first album, I was just dead-set on finishing this thing. Honestly, it was like a paper I had to write. Like a deadline for it,” Herwig said.
All but five songs on the 16-track release are under two minutes long. The resistance to reuse parts and the desire to provide more material are driving concepts behind short songs.
“We felt it was important to have a lot of different songs, instead of just one song with one idea. I think it is way cooler to have a lot of ideas in a short time span,” Knuckles said.
Simmons feels the short songs appeal to listeners with short attention spans and will encourage replays.
“The songs are short, sweet and to the point,” she said. “If the song ends before you want it to, you’re left wanting more.”
Those who purchase the album receive more than just music. Each of the 500 copies comes with a personalized cardboard comic drawn by Grinstead and captioned by Herwig.
“The idea was that we wanted something unique,” Grinstead said. “If you buy a vinyl record, then you get a present that you didn’t expect.”
“They’re all on Busch cardboard. The record has more ties to Busch than I feel like we’ve given it credit for,” Pacella said.
The ties to Busch fit with the party-band image of Kizzy Hall, one which they believe would appeal them to college students.
“If we were to appeal to any demographic, I think it would be the college scene. We kind of do have a party mentality, which is kind of aligned with a college mentality” said Simmons, met with emphatic agreement from Herwig.
Later this month, Kizzy Hall plans to release an EP and hopes to release a second full-length by the end of the year.
The members of Kizzy do not have overzealous goals of touring the world, but they hope to be “more than Columbus famous” according to Herwig.
“This is more than a hobby,” he explained. “This is my dream in life, to be on top of the world.”