Members of local band Slow Violence have a hard time describing their sound, so they let others do it for them.
“We’ve gotten a bunch of different things,” lead singer and guitarist Nick Reetz said. “Some people have said noise punk; I think that’s what we get the most. Others have said ‘weirdo metal music,’ ‘noise rock,’ ‘no wave,’ any of those descriptors, then we’ll just go, ‘Yeah, it’s like that.’”
The band — comprised of Reetz, guitarist Rick Renta, bassist David Lawler and drummer Evan Carr — formed near the end of 2018. Reetz said the band rehearsed together in December and played for the first time at a house show on East Blake Street in January 2019.
One listener described the band as “blackened surf,” Renta said. Although the phrase might initially conjure images of seafood dinner, it proves to be an apropos description of certain aspects of the group’s sound.
On several tracks, the guitar tones are reminiscent of 1960s surf rock, undergirded with metal riffs and heavy rock beats in a Beach Boys-gone-grunge avalanche of sound that, true to the band’s desires, gives audiences a physical as much as sonic experience, leaving chests thumping and ears ringing.
“Between the sheer volume and the three-part polyphony, [we’re] trying to make it as thick as possible,” Lawler said.
Reetz said he grew up in Wisconsin, but moved around the U.S. until finally settling in Columbus, Ohio. He said he happened to meet Carr while attending a local show in 2018, and the two began playing music together, with Lawler and Renta getting plugged in later via the internet.
“Best Craigslist recruits I’ve ever encountered,” Reetz said.
Throughout 2019, the band took as many opportunities as possible to play live shows and released its first record, a six-track project entitled “Sillt,” in June 2019, Reetz said.
“It’s nice to have something out and recorded, because then it’s something we can direct people to, like, ‘This is what we sound like,’” Reetz said.
Overall, the band plays with a cohesive rhythm, devoid of guitar solos and focused on melodic lead lines that complement harder, driving compositions.
On the surface, the four musicians don’t resemble typical rockers. Reetz said he supervises therapy services for kids with autism; Renta said he works in information technology at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State; Carr said he teaches tennis lessons; and Lawler said he corrects medical claims.
And aside from the burgundy polish on Lawler’s fingernails and the slight gravel in Reetz’s voice, there is almost no hint at the members’ starkly different side hustle.
Renta said the group does not have specific goals in mind for its future, except to enjoy making music and participating in the local scene, in which they feel like they’re “in between” the genres of a lot of the other bands playing around the city.
“Experience-wise, for me personally, it’s not that much different than just playing in my bedroom,” Renta said. “But in terms of [playing] live, I like being part of the music community. That’s probably my favorite part — making connections and seeing other bands and stuff, it giving me an opportunity to do that on a pretty consistent basis and participate in it.”
Lawler said performing gives him the chance to play a different character than his normal life.
“It’s pretty liberating,” Lawler said. “Especially as somebody who’s usually pretty reserved and quiet, it’s an opportunity to be a complete ass with no repercussions — within reason.”
Reetz said that recently, the band has been reassessing how it allocates its time, taking a step back from the constant performing to be creative together again.
At the onset, Slow Violence attempted to mimic some of its influences from the no wave scene, but now it sticks with what comes naturally and doesn’t worry about how it’s received.
“I just like putting our music out there and seeing how people react, in general, and I always think that that’s pretty interesting,” Reetz said. “It’s just fun to get out there and just play, and it might suck, it might not suck — people might like it, people might not — but just to throw it out there and see what happens.”
Slow Violence will perform Feb. 8 alongside Puerto Rican punk rockers Ignorados Comediantes and local acts Hydrone, Tetnis and Bribed FUZZ at The Midden on Chittenden Ave. The show starts at 7 p.m.