Musician Scott Brown's marching band upbringing makes a cameo on the pop-punk trio's debut LP
Scott Brown has music in his blood, though he spent at least a portion of his teenage years rebelling against the sounds that shaped his upbringing.
Brown's grandmother, Elaine Ostrander, was a longtime high school band director, as well as the first woman inducted into the Ohio Band Directors Conference Hall of Fame, and together his grandparents owned the now-defunct chain of Colonial Music stores. Brown's mother also worked as a band director, serving in the role at Groveport High School, while his father taught percussion and owned a drum store specializing in marching band equipment. As a result, for more than a decade Brown attended every high school football game, making him one of the few who attended specifically because of the halftime show.
Considering these circumstances, Brown's teenage discovery of punk music turned out to be a bit of an eye opener.
“It was this totally different thing that my parents didn't get,” said Brown, who joins bandmates Corey Sabo and Chris Kestner in Other People, a pop-punk trio that will celebrate its debut full-length with a release show at Big Room Bar on Saturday, March 24. “It was way more in your face. One of the great things about punk — and, yeah, it's a cliche — but you just do whatever you want. It's inherent in [the music].”
As a result, a teenage Brown often embraced feel over technique, in some ways forcing himself to unlearn the musical theory that had formed the basis of his playing since he started taking trumpet lessons in fifth grade.
“There is this punk ideal where you don't know anything about music,” said Brown, who came of age playing in punk bands that staged shows everywhere from a church-owned party house in Reynoldsburg to now-closed Bernie's Bagels & Deli on campus. “Even knowing the names of scales was uncool.”
But it wasn't long before the musician dismissed this know-nothing mindset, even enrolling in Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where he studied trumpet.
“Eventually I made the choice: ‘No, I want to learn it all. I don't care if it's cool or not,'” Brown said. “Sometimes it's useful to know how chord progressions work so you can apply it to what you're trying to build. It's like a toolbox. I put as much effort into making the toolbox as big as possible so I can just go grab those things when needed.”
This more open-ended approach to song craft informs Other People's debut, Other Places (Head2Wall Records), which kicks off with a smattering of straightforward, guitar-driven pop-punk burners before the acoustic “A Seat in Front of the Hi-Fi” cracks things wide open. The ramshackle song serves as a breakpoint, introducing the album's weirder, more varied second half (think “The Wizard of Oz” abruptly shifting from black and white to color), which features songs such as “Lens,” a track that finds Brown flashing his skills on his first instrument: the trumpet.
“Some of our songs do some weird stuff, and I'm comfortable writing that way,” said Brown, who started the project roughly three years ago, inspired in part by the work he did with the Dick & Jane Project, a local nonprofit that pairs musicians with middle schoolers to create radio-ready songs.
“When I first got involved with [Dick & Jane] I hadn't written songs in a while,” said Brown, who now serves on the project's board. “The goal of that [program] is to make eighth graders want to start bands, but doing that is what made me want to start Other People, which is funny. It's really kind of perfect.”