APRIL 29, 2010 | The Short North | Columbus, OH
Photo by Jen Killius
Have you ever gone to a concert with no expectations other than to see a enjoyable set by the headliner, and then suddenly a local band you’ve never heard of steps out and blows you away with the first few phrases of their song? That is exactly what happened when Saintseneca took the stage before Horse Feathers back in early March. A hush fell upon the crowd, my hair stood up on end, shivers scurried down my spine. We had all been hit by a beautiful acoustic bomb of pure hearted folk.
At the Girls show later that month, I was in the midst of conversation with my friends when I saw a young guy with fiery red hair walk by. I immediately recognized him as the lead singer from Saintseneca. I quickly (and probably rudely) left my friends side to ask him and the band for an interview. He kindly agreed and gave me his email address.
A few weeks later, I found myself outside of Surly Girl Saloon, with Zac, Steva, Grace and Luke and photographer Jen Killius. This was the first interview I conducted outside of a performance so we took our time walking around the Short North as we talked about cults, small towns, and local music. We settled down at a table at Surly Girl Saloon after our walk about the neighborhood…
KP: I noticed at the show where you opened for Horse Feathers, you guys play so many different instruments. Will you name some of the crazy ones? I know a trash can is one of them.
Luke: Yeah, that’s probably the craziest. [Laughter]
Zac: There is the dulcimer, bouzouki… mandolin, banjo, guitar, violin… is that everything?
Luke: The washboard! There are a few dulimers… we have the stick dulcimer.
Zac: Yeah, we have two variations of the dulcimer.
Grace: Did you say ukulele?
Zac: Ah yeah! The baritone ukulele…
KP: That is quite a list of instruments!
Grace: We have an auto-harp!
Luke: We’ll probably keep remembering as we go along and keep naming them.
KP: How long have you guys been together?
Grace: Two years and a month since our first show…
Zac: Actually, two years and a couple days. I just realized I had my 8,000 day, like, three days ago.
KP: Of living?
Zac: Yeah! I missed it by three days, I wish I would have known.
KP: So, how did you all meet? I know earlier you said the three of you (Zac, Steva, and Luke) grew up together in Caldwell, Ohio. But how did you meet Grace?
Grace: We all have a similar scholarship at Ohio State. And the school made us go to a meet-and-greet… and that’s where I met Zac and he introduced me to everybody else.
KP: What is your creative process like while you are songwriting?
Zac: Well, a lot of times one of us will have, I guess what you could say, the seed for a song. Like, If I did that I would write the song, but only write about 3/4ths of it. That way, when I bring it to these guys, we’ll all sort of finish it together. We all make a point when we write a song, we aren’t saying THIS is the product, that way its more of a collaborative experience. We all write our own parts.
KP: How did you get hooked up with your label, Paper Brigade?
Zac: We met Kurt at a House Show. We played with this band called Ad Astra Per Aspera which he played in for about 10 years. I was talking to him after the show, just hanging out I didn’t think anything of it. But he contacted me on facebook a while after that, and we just started talking back and forth about things. Around that time we had recorded professionally and I was sharing that with him. He asked if we would be up for the idea of them putting out a 7’’ for us.
Grace: That’s how we met Matt, and Matt and Kurt had been high school friends who do Paper Brigade together.
KP: How long ago did you meet them?
Zac: Probably, about a year or so ago.
KP: Have you noticed social media has affected your success?
Grace: It’s really flattering when people write about us on blogs. I don’t think any of us are too familiar with social media and music, so everything that’s happened is a surprise. That Boom blog, none of us had heard of it until they did a post about us. We were like, “Wow that’s a really cool blog!” its so flattering that they took the time to write about us.
Zac: The live show is the most important thing. But the social media, or any sort of publicity, it reaches out to a lot of people that we otherwise wouldn’t encounter. We tend to play more DIY shows or house shows. For our sound it doesn’t make sense for us to play at bars all the time. It certainly helps us connect with people we otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
Luke: Its kind of cool with blogs and stuff, like Grace said, its really flattering. Especially, when considering, with a paper a lot of times, its like “Oh, we’re looking for a band to write about and we just wrote about you guys.” With a blog, it seems like they write about us because they are into it. It seems a lot more heartfelt and it makes it more flattering than other press.
Grace: They’re not writing because they have to meet a deadline.
KP: What would you consider to be the best and worst things about being in a band in Columbus, OH?
Zac: Best things, there are so many great people here and there are a ton of gold bands. I’m constantly blow away by how nice and down to earth people are. I think as much as I love other cities, but sometimes it seems less orientated around community or the music and its more of a competition. Here in Columbus, people are really supportive. Worst, things there are no oceans or mountains.
Grace: There are very few places we can play acoustically here.
Zac: That’s true.
KP: What has been your favorite experience together on the road? Any crazy stories?
Zac: Well, one of the most rewarding part of doing this has been being able to travel. And all the people we meet. I think when we were doing this past tour it kind of clicked in my mind because we were getting ready to stay at this guys house, walking up to his door and he said, “What are your guy’s names again?” I thought, “This is so strange. We are sleeping on this guys floor and he doesn’t even know our names.”
KP: You’ve been really quiet over there, Steva.
Steva: [Laughs] Yeah, I don’t know. The first tour we did was so fun, amazing. We were swimming in mountain streams. Getting to travel is the best part, I guess Zac already said that but yeah…
KP: Any ladies chasing you guys down after the shows?
Luke: Steva! [Laughs]
Steva: I don’t think that really happens, though!
Luke: Well, I’m in a committed relationship. So its not really what I’’m going for. I feel like I’m so oblivious to all that stuff that it doesn’t affect me.
Zac: I think its mostly Steva. He’s the heartthrob.
Steva: Yeah the single guy. [Laughter]
KP: What is it like for you, Steva, being the only single guy? (Zac and Grace are a couple)
Luke: Well, a lot of times my girlfriend isn’t with us…
Steva: … In person… But she’s there! [Laughter]
Zac: I think I have more boys chasing after me at shows than girls! [Laughter]
Luke: Actually, that’s definitely true!