Locals: Longtime friendships help Gelatinus Cube’s music gel

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From the June 19, 2014 edition

Despite saddling itself with a name (Gelatinus Cube) and an album title (The New Corn) that could have been lifted from an issue of Scientific American, the emotions on the arty local crew’s latest tend to be endearingly human, steeped in relatable themes like heartbreak, isolation and a growing anxiety born of the idea nothing is completely within our control.

“We figured out … how to be weird in a way people could understand,” said singer/multi-instrumentalist Pat Chase, 26, over coffee in a mid-June interview. “We learned how to be really strange, but also to have those really pretty moments.”

So one minute on New Corn guitarist/co-singer Tim Swanson is braying “Let me go” atop spastic guitars that mimic the feel of a massive panic attack, and the next the band is pulling back for “So, So, So,” a swooning, keyboard-flecked piano ballad where Chase daydreams of once again gazing into a paramour’s “soft brown eyes.” It’s a versatility the band has developed over the course of a dozen years and eight albums, steadily evolving from punk-obsessed teenagers to more accomplished players capable of exploring textures outside of the genre’s slash-and-burn environs.

“We also liked the Beatles [when we started], but we never played like it because we couldn’t, because we were still learning our instruments,” Chase said. “We stopped being a punk band when we got old enough to say, ‘We like doing this, too.’”

The band’s sound is further shaped by its ever-rotating lineup, and Chase said Gelatinus Cube can perform with anywhere from three to six musicians, depending on who’s available at a given time (“It’s sort of a planned chaos,” he said). For this current round of shows, which includes a stop at Ace of Cups on Wednesday, June 25, the band will be without guitarist and co-founder Swanson, who’s in the midst of completing a degree in instrument repair at a school in Renton, Washington, and intends to move back to Columbus full-time following graduation this fall.

Chase, who first met Swanson when the two were 6 years old, said some of the lyrics on New Corn were inspired, in part, by the void left in the wake of his longtime pal’s departure.

“Tim is my best friend, and it was weird not having someone around,” he said. “But I'm not Mr. Tortured Artist or whatever. Everyone has problems, but I'm generally a happy guy.”

These good vibes extend into Gelatinus Cube, a group of longtime friends who just happen to have a shared interest in music — a rare bit of good fortune that tends to keep the drama to an absolute minimum.

“These are people I've known forever, so before we even got here we had already worked through our issues,” he said. “When I listen back to our [music] I'm listening to me and my friends doing what we do, so it's very strange when other people actually like it.”

Photo by Maddie McGarvey