Local music: Before the Eyewall

  • Photo by Tessa Berg
From the August 9, 2012 edition

Before the Eyewall began abruptly, but everything else about the Columbus band moves at a slow and purposeful clip.

Guitarist Garrett LoConti and drummer Aaron O’Brien-Eichman were playing with Dayton musicians in a band called Kenoma, building brooding instrumentals with the expansive scope of post-rock at the glacial pace of doom metal. In January 2010, days before a show, the Dayton contingent decided to scale back. So Kenoma went on hiatus, and the Columbus members simply showed up for the concert to debut their new project instead.

Then it was off to the races, tortoise style (and occasionally Tortoise style). They played countless shows in and out of town. They locked themselves in their practice space for days writing and rehearsing lengthy compositions — building “parts that become bigger parts that become movements,” O’Brien-Eichman explained. They’ve been tinkering with their debut album for more than a year.

“This band was an art form that was being worked on,” O’Brien-Eichman said of those early months feeling out their new dynamic.

The learning curve was deliberate; so is the music. LoConti and O’Brien-Eichman view their songs as slow-building dialogues; concerts are a chance to bring others into the conversation. Playing shows with faster, more immediate metal bands is challenging.

“We have to literally bring them over to our wavelength,” LoConti said.

They’ve gone through numerous bassists; two separate players will fill in on stretches of the tour launching Friday at Dreadful Sounds. They’ve been recruiting others around the country to join them for regional runs.

“We’re hoping to have a bass player in up to six states,” LoConti said.

More touring looms this fall, as does the release of their album, a conceptual epic about the water cycle. Then they’ll shift their focus to the storms within.

“We want this music to feel like something that’s brought on by outside force,” O’Brien-Eichman said. “With our next record, we’re actually talking about getting more in-depth with our own forces.”