To know the band Truslow, you first have to understand the man behind it all. A lot of eponymous bands are built around the ideas and ego of their leader. While it may be one singular man who has his name attached to it, it is so much more than just a person trying to make their name famous.
James Truslow grew up in Bellville, a small suburb of Mansfield, Ohio about an hour north of Columbus. His life’s journey brought him to the capital city when he was 13-years old, beginning his musical journey leading a worship group at Quest Community Church. It was a huge jump for someone who had never played professionally before.
“I learned how to lead other musicians there, and how not to lead other musicians,” he chuckled. “I was only 16 at the time, so it was an interesting way to cut my teeth.”
Interesting doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of his life. By the age of 21, he had decided that he wanted to write pop tunes because, as he put it, they were fun. And, he liked things that were fun. He pulled together a few friends and formed the original incarnation of Truslow, who ended up playing their first show in front of 175 people at Five14 in New Albany.
“I realized that maybe this band might actually be a reality when I saw that many people. I knew that God was calling me to make music right there.”
The quartet changed members as they worked on their first two EPs. The current team includes drummer Matt Myers, bassist Andrew Lee, and guitarist Sam Beaumier along with James on keyboards and vocals.
Their biggest break came after releasing their most recent EP, “Hurricane”, when local rock station Radio U (88.7 WUFM) started playing the lead track, ADHD. It ended up finishing at number one on the year-end Top 50 countdown for the station.
ADHD was the last song written for the EP, but Truslow says that it was the perfect song to invite people into the record. It was written about the struggle of being a strange kid; a Christian with ADHD in a secular school.
“The more I tried to be accepted, the more I hated who I was.” he says “The less I tried to let the world define me, the more I realized that God made me who I am”
The song has so much bounce and is an amazing call to a world that says you’re broken, and they know how to fix you. The second verse leads with the line “you tell me I need peace of mind, so take these pills and stabilize”, being a relevant line to a lot of people struggling with finding their personal identity with a mind full of chaos.
Up next is Moving On, which Truslow says is partly about his parent’s divorce and recognizing the lies that he had told himself to cope with things. “I’m moving on, moving on, this house I built will soon be gone” touches on realizing that you don’t have to let the metaphorical fortress of anxiety, pain and addictions hold you back in life.
“We can overcome it and learn that we don’t have to be complacent,” adds Truslow.
The title track comes third, and it’s honestly the closest thing I’ve ever heard to a worship song in popular music. James says that sometimes we are afraid to let God come into our lives, but we need to recognize the mess we are and let that “literal storm of grace and love” overtake us like a hurricane.
Hearing him talk about this song actually brought a tear to my eye, as it was a song I had leaned on in a time where I personally was struggling with heavy depression. Of all the terms I’ve heard used by people to describe the love of God (consuming fire, grace flood, etc), I feel like Hurricane might be the most appropriate of all, because of how it sweeps through you and washes away all of the pain and suffering you’ve endured in your life.
The deceptive sing-song piano that opens Doctor turns into an amazingly poignant message about the world around us. It’s about acknowledging that the message of the world has nothing to offer someone who has already been saved. The “insanity” in the song is actually the gospel, and the “sanity” that the world has to offer is something that ironically is actually insane.
“Regardless of what pill life feeds you, you still need that Doctor to save you”. He slapped the table emphatically after that one, letting me know the passion behind his words.
The final track is titled Lover, and it again touches on the painful moments of his mother and father going through their divorce. While he says it’s humbling to hear people play the song at weddings, it’s not the kind of song that promises anything. It has no resolution, but it is about finding peace in the brokenness of the life around you.
It’s a solid and fun pop music EP, despite the fact that the lyrics are deceptively deep. The band worked to push the EP between touring and meeting with multiple big label producers, but they only found “maybes” in their quest for musical stardom.
James says that he actually realized while playing a show in Chicago that his calling actually needed to be closer to home. He started to wonder if he should keep the band together, and if they could even continue to exist without heavy national touring and album work.
“I had to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life,” he admits, “and I came to the realization that I can still touch people’s lives with Truslow, the band. It will just be built a little differently”.
As far as figuring things out goes, James was blessed with the calling to plant a church called Three Creeks Church in Gahanna, OH. The worship service will be comprised almost entirely of songs he composed, which he says will be a mix of “Obviously Truslow, but also Hillsong United and maybe even some MuteMath.” I laughed at the idea of meshing all of these things together, but after talking to the man I realized that there probably isn’t anything he couldn’t do, at least musically. It takes a special drive to start so young and work your way to the position where he and the band are right now, and I’d be excited to see how the two styles (church and band) play off of each other.
If you’re curious just how far the band has come in these few short years, you need only to look at their Spotify page. While some local bands tour and promote themselves relentlessly, garnering little recognition or accolades, the “Hurricane” EP has over two million plays. Even though the title track leads the way with 754,000 plays itself, each of the remaining songs have at least 145,000 plays to their credit.
Personally, I would attribute that success to the joint-songwriting ability of the quartet. It’s not just the front-man making everything himself; it’s a fantastic dynamic nexus that encompasses each member and their specific abilities. James says he honestly cannot believe that he gets to spend his life doing what he’s doing and feeling those melodies in his soul.
As far as upcoming shows go, they will be at the Loud-N-Lima festival, headlined by heavy-hitters 3 Doors Down and a host of classic rock icons, including Bret Michaels, Warrant, Vince Neil, and Dee Snider. Outside of that, Truslow says that the band will be playing a gig here and there while he works to get his new church together and write for the next album they plan on releasing.
Truslow – ADHD