Though The High Definitions settled on a name last fall, the trio's music has only recently come into focus.
Though The High Definitions settled on a name last fall, the trio’s music has only recently come into focus.
On its self-titled debut EP, the band, which includes members Nick Kurth (guitar/vocals), James Eger (bass) and Jon Coale (drums), compiles a series of blues-inspired guitar jams, venturing from strutting turns like “Broken Bones,” which ambles along comfortably in spite of its shattered title, to swampier numbers like “Reel Me in or Cut Me Loose,” where the song’s narrator sounds resigned to the fact he’ll soon be swimming in solo waters.
While the musicians sound wholly at home in their chosen genre, Kurth said it took a fair amount of time to begin revealing his own personality in the music.
“When I first started out sometimes I’d catch myself singing in a fake British accent,” said Kurth, 25, who was born in Cincinnati to a doctor father and an X-ray technician mother and grew up idolizing the likes of The Beatles’ John Lennon (hence the early accent). “Then after a while I became more comfortable, like, ‘This is what I’m going to do.’”
While High Definitions’ history only stretches back to September ’13, the three musicians have actually honed their chemistry over the better part of a decade after first coming in contact as members of the same high school jazz band. Around that time, the three formed a more straightforward blues-rock collective, parting ways to attend college before reconnecting last year.
“I had a general idea where I wanted the music to go [when we got back together],” Kurth said. “The songs I was writing were blues influenced, so it was a nod to what we had done in the past, but we incorporated more of a melodic element.”
Growing up, Kurth shied from the spotlight, and in previous bands he resisted taking on the role of frontman, gravitating instead to lead guitar. After some time, however, the musician realized being a sideman didn’t satiate his creative needs.
“That’s why I started this group, because I got tired of being just a guitar player and I wanted to write my own material,” he said. “I could play licks, but if you sit down at a campfire you want to play songs — not just play the craziest riff you can. To me that doesn’t have the same lasting power. Songwriting is the way you connect with people, I think.”
Photo by Meghan Ralston