Locals: Sega Genocide turns life’s frustrations into garage-pop bliss

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From the February 13, 2014 edition

Though Sega Genocide has been making music for the better part of two years, the quartet has yet to release a proper album. The band members do, however, have custom basketball jerseys with the word “genocide” emblazoned across the chest.

“We set aside $300 to put out our last record, and then we ended up buying the jerseys with all that money,” said singer Brian C.R., 26, over coffee in an early February interview. “We were all drinking and I was like, ‘I’m going to hit order,’ and they were like, ‘Dude, of course you have to hit order. This is amazing!’

“We had every intention in the world of putting the last record out, and we have every intention of putting the next thing out, but we’re just this machine that only half works. If we were made to make M&Ms, it’s like they’re not going out the dispenser; they’re just dropping right back in the machine. I think someone has to come save us from ourselves.”

While the bandmates might struggle with motivation when it comes to releasing material, no such hesitancy is evident in its ferocious live show. On one Thursday in early February at 4th St. Bar & Grill the crew bashed through assorted garage-pop nuggets that practically bristled with nervous energy. At the start of each song, C.R. would punch the air, bounce and twitch, like a swaggering boxer ready to pounce at the sound of the opening bell.

The characters populating the group’s songs appeared far less self-assured, beset on all sides by mounting frustrations and a general sense of self-loathing. “My stupid mind,” C.R. howled repeatedly on one tune, guitars crashing and piling around him like highway wreckage.

Unlike the people he writes about, C.R. has managed to establish a degree of stability in his own life. He’s happily married, and works a fulfilling job teaching young adults with learning and behavioral disabilities — neither of which make compelling fodder for music, according to the singer.

“Nobody wants to hear a bunch of songs about being happily married,” he said. “You can write one, and people will be like, ‘That’s cute.’ But you can’t have six songs in an eight-song set that are like: ‘I love coming home to you’; ‘Your stability is a real inspiration to me’; ‘Thank you for letting me see that movie without you.’ No one would like that at all. It would be awful.”

A number of the band’s more recent songs have grown out of his day job, though, largely because C.R. identifies so closely with the kids he teaches. The singer said he was a terrible student growing up, and his struggles in the classroom tended to bleed into his low feelings of self-worth.

“I was always on the verge of getting kicked out, and I always felt like shit about that part of myself,” said C.R., who started playing guitar at the age of 16 in an effort to pick up girls (it didn’t work). “I can see that in the kids I work with, where they can go from being really brave kids to really frustrated kids.”

Of course, not all of the musician’s students struggle with sagging confidence. In fact, one of the more outgoing youngsters might even be able to line C.R. up with his first post-Sega Genocide gig, should things fail to develop as planned over the next few years.

“One [student] told me he’s in a group [called] Rock Band. He’s the drummer, and there’s a kid that plays the flute, and they play the Schottenstein Center a lot,” C.R. said. “I was like, ‘Are you guys pretty good?’ And he was like, ‘We’re terrible! We’re a bad band.’ ‘But you’re playing the Schottenstein Center?’ ‘Oh yeah.’ So I’m thinking maybe I should quit my band and help them. I can be the guy who cleans the flute and sets up the drums.”

Photo by Meghan Ralston