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 every week.
You’re at some Halloween show, watching some familiar musicians cover historic punk music at Columbus’ Ace of Cups. People bang around in the pit as you remain outside the excitement.
It just so happens that one group collaborates beyond the riffs, vocals and intensity of the past to the point where you ask yourself: Am I “TRILL” enough?
It’s a made-up word that Columbus’ newly-formed outfit Yuze Boys lives by, and the band challenges its audience to do the same.
“I feel like it’s nothing we talked about,” said vocalist Alex Mussawir with regards to forming the group, “It’s a thing that happened without saying.”
Nearly a year ago, Winston Hightower (Making Friends, Splashin’ Safari, Tastes Kinda Like Sad), Jeff Kleinman (Nervosas, Gamma World) and Alex Mussawir (Goners) performed an set of Adolescents’ songs for a Halloween show dedicated to paying homage to the punk bands that left a permanent mark on music today.
After that show, the “one-night-only” group decided to start writing original songs together, adding bassist Kyle Bergamo (Making Friends, Checkmate) to the mix.
“I just think we keep writing whatever comes out,” said Kleinman, guitarist of the band. “It seems more fun that way.”
While Mussawir is at work during the day, Bergamo and drummer Hightower bounce hundreds of riffs and ideas off of each other to build the songs.
“We share a room,” Hightower said.
Yuze Boys is a punk band, but more than willing to experiment, from the format of songs to the ideals and interaction with current or future fans.
For instance, the band made a YouTube video where Mussawir holds the camera on his face in the “selfie” position throughout a performance of their track, “Nothing to Give,” for Yuze Boys’ Blogspot.
“Groundbreaking!” Kleinman joked.
The band currently lives under the same roof, and doesn’t have any plans to alter the living arrangement in terms of roommates.
“Before we play (a show) — I’m just gonna say it — we all go into the bathroom for, like, 30 minutes each,” Mussawir said.
“We like to look good,” Kleinman chimed in.
“60 percent of the clothes I own are from Alex Mussawir,” interjected Hightower, pointing out his pants and Nervosas T-shirt as hand-me-downs from Mussawir.
Hightower’s nonchalance toward his clothing extends to his laundry habits as well.
“If not a week, two weeks,” said Hightower, describing how long it takes for clothing to become “dirty.”
“This band just seems like it’s more about having fun together as friends,” Kleinman said.
“We’ve all been in other bands and wanted to do things maybe differently than we had with our other bands in the past in terms of feeling more laid-back and creative and less constricted through boundaries and things,” Mussawir said.
When writing songs and guitar parts for his other band, Goners, Mussawir ends up tossing out a much larger amount of ideas than he keeps.
“With this band (all of the ideas) seem really good,” he said.
Yuze Boys has found that the band’s strength comes from going out or spending a vast amount of time with each other.
“We spend, like, I would say a good 65-70 percent of the day with each other all the time,” Hightower said.
“Like going to the sex store,” Kleiman added. ”We go to the sex store together.”
“I recommend doing, like, interesting and funny and exciting sex things all the time,” Mussawir added. “You should put that at the first sentence of (this) interview.”
Sexual exploration aside, Yuze Boys has been waiting for the opportunity to make music together. All the members have been on the sidelines of each other’s previous projects.
“For me, it was, like, me and Winston were in Making Friends, and I just loved playing music with Winston,” Bergamo said. “And when (Hightower, Kleinman and Mussawir) asked me to play, it was like, ‘Hell yeah!’”
“Ever since I became friends with Alex and saw Goners, I always wanted to be in a band with Alex ‘cause I like his vocals a lot, I like his lyrics a lot,” Kleinman said.
Mussawir writes constantly and holds the material in a “bank.”
Once the music comes along, the lyrical content is “mumbled” into the space where it becomes the most memorable to Mussawir.
Yuze Boys’ vocals do not touch on any political substance or “anthemic” topics. The themes take root in personal awareness and the contextual states of an individual’s being.
“The song we made the video for was about drinking beer and walking home and then feeling unable to appear or, like, act in a positive way,” Mussawir said. “It’s probably always about myself and never about anything bigger.”
Yuze Boys is planning to release a tape and T-shirts prior to its (first) potential mid-November tour.
“(We’re) not gonna have a Bandcamp,” Mussawir said. “We’re only gonna use YouTube and Blogspot.”
This decision was based on the bands Yuze Boys were in before creating the project, and is an effort to promote the band in a more fresh way than a platform such as Facebook or Soundcloud.
Besides, Mussawir lacks a personal iTunes library, which leads him to YouTube for musical enjoyment anyway.
Yuze Boys — especially Kleinman, the main booker for Ace of Cups — has an extensive network of out-of-town musicians and venues which makes touring possible even at such an early stage for the band.
The boys unanimously believe that the best way to infiltrate new cities is to make friends with out-of-state bands traveling through Columbus on their own circuits, and vice versa.
And they do it with a motto in mind, even if not all the band members always remember it.
“Wait – what’s TRILL?” Kleinman asked Hightower, needing refreshed on the concept.
“Yuze Boys will say how they feel — whether it be something you like to hear or not,” Hightower answered. “But it will always be respectful.”
“True to everyone and real to yourself,” added Kleinman.