For Pray for Sleep, music is about tackling the ups and downs that come with maintaining mental health.

The local band, composed of guitarist Hayden Kissler, vocalist Grant DeCrane, drummer Reno Houston and guitarist Ethan Carlson, puts a heavy focus on mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse. 

They made their name quickly in Columbus, Ohio. With only two shows under their belt, they were playing at annual rock festival Rock on the Range in 2018.

“We went from playing for, like, 20 people to, like, 700 in a month, which was kind of a shell-shock moment,” Houston said.

Inspired by the rock music of Motley Crue, Jack White and Guns N’ Roses, DeCrane said the band describes its music as a combination of hard rock and metal. He said they incorporate some screaming and harsher vocals in their songs.

Pray for Sleep came together near the end of the members’ high school years when they were all searching for other musicians with whom to play. They released their first self-titled EP in 2017, and their first show was eight months later.

Houston said the band wants to relate to, encourage and lift up its audience. Much of the band’s merchandise includes positive messages such as, “We are not alone.”

“We all have dealt with different mental health issues or conditions and whatnot, and for us, music was a huge catalyst in recovery,” DeCrane said.

Pray for Sleep’s advocacy goes further than its music. In March 2019, the band started Scream Back, a program that allows the band members to visit middle schools, high schools and colleges around Columbus to speak with students about mental health awareness.

The responses to the program have been positive, Houston said. Many parents have expressed support for what the band is trying to achieve.

Pray for Sleep also partnered with Nationwide Children’s Hospital as part of the On Our Sleeves campaign that launched in October 2018. The campaign aims to start conversations about children’s mental health, according to its website.

“[We’re] trying to kind of mesh the gap between acknowledging that things aren’t always great, but then also realizing that they don’t have to stay not great forever,” DeCrane said.

Pray for Sleep will perform at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Buckeye Throwdown Fest, located at Alrosa Villa at 5055 Sinclair Road. Tickets cost $12 in advance and $15 at the door.