Three members of the groove-infused Columbus band Osage currently reside under the same roof. Upon stepping foot through the door to their home, there is a welcoming drum set where guests would normally kick off their shoes. To the right is a living room draped in Christmas lights and riddled with microphones, amplifiers and a keyboard — a makeshift environment for recording music.
The setup is relatively new to the house, yet necessary for a band aiming to release its first full-length project this summer due to the burdening expenses of studio time and production. For guitarist Tony Capetillo, tenor saxophonist Hayden Huffman and alto and baritone saxophonist Faheem Najieb, monthly rent also serves as a substitute for recording studio rates.
“I love having everything in here at my disposal,” Capetillo said. “I can just walk downstairs and plug in my amp and play the guitar or sometimes play the bass if I want to.”
The freeform studio also operates as an intimate venue for friends and fans of the band. A few weekends ago, the band held an impromptu show at the Osage residence for 50 or so people, Huffman said.
“I feel like we’re continuously having a band meeting,” guitarist and vocalist Chris Economos said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re having a party or what’s going on, we’re talking about the band, the shows, how to make s— better.”
“Which feeds into the excitement, which feeds into what happens on the stage,” Huffman added.
Despite the fact that the current seven-member ensemble has only been together for a few months, the band as a whole could not be happier with the collaborative vision of all the members.
“I would say one of the biggest differences between the past configuration and what’s happening now is the intensity and the different levels of energy throughout,” said Najieb, a 2015 Ohio State jazz studies graduate.
However, there are still original roots grounded in the foundation of Osage today. Bassist and vocalist Eddie Loomis has relationships with Capetillo, Economos and Huffman that date back to their childhoods in Granville, Ohio.
Although the Granville music scene is pretty sparse, Capetillo cited the unity of bluegrass groups in the Granville area as having perpetual influences on the band today. Members have been shuffled while others left on good terms, but since 2011, Osage has maintained the large-group dynamic.
An interesting aspect about the present makeup of Osage is the fusion of different influences. While those from Granville drew upon bluegrass influences, Najieb and latest additions, drummer Willie Barthel and keyboardist Robert Mason, all at one point have majored in jazz studies at OSU.
“We just want to try and take from all of that and make it into something new without being pigeonholed as a band that just plays hardcore funk tunes,” said Loomis, a third-year in English and pre-education.
A day after Osage’s March 2 concert at Scarlet & Gray Cafe, the band’s members were gathered at the band’s “studio” in the room that an audience would usually commune in. While they were trying to put a finger on a specific sound for the band, Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 groovy hip-hop anthem “King Kunta” played at a whisper in the background.
The outro to the track — continuous cries of “We want the funk!” — must have resonated with the band because a collaborative agreement emerged citing a need to create music that simply makes people move.
“I think it all comes back to the groove,” Najieb said. “The goal is to make the crowd and make music feel good, so no matter what kind of style — bluegrass, rock, soul, jazz, hip-hop, R&B — it’s all about whether it sounds good at the moment and what feels good.”
Barthel, a second-year in jazz studies, mentioned that Osage’s recent show at Scarlet & Gray kept a Columbus crowd dancing until 2 a.m. with more than 15 tunes.
Marathon performances have become quite common for the band. Osage has been playing almost two shows every week, which the band members said is a great experience and exposure for the group leading up to the release of its debut album. Living together helps eliminate some problems with gathering the band for practice and builds musical comfort among the members.
“We just want to draw on people’s emotions but do that in a positive way,” Economos said. “I hadn’t always thought about it in the past, but what’s happening now is really nice because I feel like we do all have equal parts in building the songs up or trying new writing methods.”
Osage is set to perform at 1 a.m. on Saturday at Woodlands Tavern for a chance to play in the Summer Camp Music Festival in Illinois.