The Hexers formed in 2010 with one goal in mind: to make local audiences dance.
“It’s hard to get a crowd in Columbus moving their hips,” said Jon Stickley, who shares singer/guitar duties with Eric Wrong, over coffee in an early December interview. “The first time we played and we really saw everyone having a good time and dancing it was like, ‘Now what?’”
On its website, the band bills its sound as “bubblegum fuzz-soul,” and Stickley and Wrong are both caught off guard whenever writers or fans reference Nuggets, a much-revered compilation of psychedelic garage tunes from the 1960s, when discussing its influences.
“People are like, ‘You guys must really like Nuggets,’ and we’re like, ‘Not really,’” Stickley said. “We’re an R&B band. We’re a soul band.”
“But the tools we have are fuzz pedals and bass and drums and harmonica and [the singer lets out a small primal scream],” Wrong interjected.
“There’s no power on this earth that’s going to make me not be some guy from a small town in the middle of nowhere Ohio,” Stickley continued. “Some guys will be like, ‘Oh, I wish I could have worked in the cotton fields of Macon.’ I don’t. That would have sucked. The guys who worked in the cotton fields of Macon? They hated it. Give them a chance to grow up in Lima and it’s like, ‘Yeah, that sounds like a good deal to me.’”
While the two frontmen share an affinity for early soul and R&B, both approach the music from slightly different mindsets. Wrong, who purchased his first guitar in secret as a teenager by saving his lunch money (“I didn’t eat for months and months,” he said), has always been drawn to the music’s rawest elements. Stickley, in contrast, always appreciated the precision of bands like Booker T & the M.G.’s, a finesse reflected in his comparatively studied approach to his instrument. Wrong, for his part, said simply being in a band with Stickley has made him a better guitar player.
Even so, both musicians said they never had any difficulty finding common ground in Hexers.
“We wanted to start a band that sounded like Sam & Dave doing Sonics covers at 4 o’clock in the morning, and that was it,” Stickley said. “There was never a question of how it was going to sound.”