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Columbus’ Own: Lights Go Out illuminates mental illness through music

Lights Go Out from left to right: Cameron Harrison, Zac Baaske, Justin Steed and Alex Arseneau. Credit: Courtesy of Anna Brady

Ohio State alumnus Zac Baaske likes loudness. Absolute deafening loudness. But Baaske’s loudness — and that of his band, Lights Go Out — isn’t just for the sake of being noisy. Rather, it’s a platform for talking about deeper issues.

“For this band, (music) has been an opportunity to talk about mental illness,” Baaske said. “It’s kind of this idea of struggling, and it being an ongoing thing and learning to coexist or overcome it.”

Using music to talk about the tough issue of mental illness is something Baaske said he started doing during his junior year at OSU when his friend, who was receiving treatment from the university, died.

“It was a really personal experience when that happened,” Baaske said. “It was incredibly striking … there was a lot to process. So conceptually the band is very much about (mental illness) and personal growth.”

Since 2013, Lights Go Out has released an album, undergone member changes, broken up and gotten back together. The current lineup since October is Baaske on guitar and vocals, Justen Steed on bass, Cameron Harrison on drums and vocals and third-year in architecture Alex Arseneau on guitar.

In a sense, Baaske said he believes the band itself is dealing with concepts of change and growth similar to what its music focuses on.

“We’re still working with a lot of the same old material,” Baaske said. “But we’re also very much figuring out our new sound and who we are as these four people, versus who we were before.”

Although Baaske writes the majority of the lyrics, the final product is still very much a collaborative effort, Baaske said.

“Even with Zac writing a lot, we add our own stuff and make our own decisions so it’s not like one person doing everything,” Harrison said. “We each add our own twist.”

The group finds its influences in a lot of different local bands, including Delay and the Sidekicks, but believes its sound is pretty true to garage punk rock styles, Baaske said.

“I’ve always called (us) a punk band because of what punk means to me, genre-wise and ideologically,” Baaske said. “It’s this idea of all these bands not really being the most learned musicians, but doing it anyway because they’re creative and they like it.”

Even though Baaske said he thinks think the group falls under the category of novice musicians, Lights Go Out has played a number of shows around Columbus, including ones at the Summit, the Donatos Basement and Double Happiness.

“We try to do two or three shows a month, sometimes more, sometimes less,” Baaske said. “We wouldn’t want to overdo it.”

Harrison also said he believes less is more when it comes to playing shows.

“It’s important to make (playing shows) an event for people and a special experience,” Harrison said.

Still, regardless of if the band plays in public or just at private practices, one thing holds constant — the lyrics tell others they aren’t alone in their struggle.

“The loudness is the best part (of music) for me,” Baaske said. “Sometimes there’s nothing that can make you feel better than deafening loudness.”

Lights Go Out’s next show will be Friday at Double Happiness. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets are $5.

One comment

  1. Hi, yes Music is amazing for mental illness. I have used music for my cousin treatment. to have free royalty music I use apps.

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