Saturday night brought me to the Tree Bar for a late show covering Columbus quartet Miller and the Hunks. They were playing in support of Chicago hard rock trio We Killed The Lion, and were hoping to do a little tune-up before their EP release show on October 13, 2017.
The band is fronted by singer/keyboardist Colin Miller, and is flanked by his “Hunks”; Jon Leonard with the lovely dark locks on guitar, mustachioed Josiah Ogden on bass, and Ethan “The Warthog” Joseph on drums.
For being a 10 p.m. opener in a small bar, Miller and the Hunks had a decent sized crowd packed in to the Tree Bar’s concert room. I had gone outside with hopes of finding cooler September air than what was inside, but Mother Nature had other plans.
Back inside, the lights dimmed and the band opened with one of their newer songs, Gravity, which featured an almost laid-back energy style with catchy guitars. Miller showcased a fantastic voice and sang with angst-ridden conviction, while Joseph rattled away at the skins.
The boys then kicked into their newest single, Wicked Tongue , which opened with a gritty scream from Miller and a pounding bass-line from Ogden. It was one of the heavier songs of the evening, and Leonard ripped off a screamer of a solo near the end. Last Halloween saw a switch of stringed instruments between the two axe-men and focused more on the groovier side of things. Miller announced the song was about murdering someone, before cackling evilly and belting out, “You can run, but we’ll still find you. I’ll never change!”
Ogden took his bass back and sang lead on Stapled Shut, while Miller seemed to crawl around the stage before singing harmony on the chorus. The unfortunate downside to the evening (musically) was that any time Miller even touched his mic it would clip. Perhaps it was the level of hunkyness being featured that was making the microphones so hot… Bad joke, I know.
Up next, we had The Chauffer, off of the band’s first album “Purely Sexual”. Ogden’s bass chugged slow and low as Miller sang falsetto on the chorus. About half-way through Joseph started picking up the pace on his snare until the song hit its screaming crescendo in the final minute, highlighted by another tasty solo from Leonard.
After that it was Creativity, which was a song written for the podcast “What’s the Deal with Creativity?” The heavy dose of synth and vocal reverb almost made it feel like a mix between The Killers and Manchester Orchestra. It also occurred to me that almost every song I heard that night either focused on sex or anger, which are two topics I can definitely relate with on a personal level.
The band headed back to “Purely Sexual” with the song Lockdown, which showcased Joseph even more and almost felt like an 80’s euro-dance hit until the guitars kicked in. Somewhere during the song, the output on Ogden’s bass broke down and the band had to scramble before playing their next tune.
Miller announced that the band had recently had their gear stolen and were using their backup instruments, and Ogden ended up using a practice six-string on Tha Funk, which did not seem to be diminished by the missing instruments. Miller told Ogden he should probably use less lotion to stop gunking things up. That sort of stage banter was prevalent throughout the night and made things even more fun than just the music itself.
Fortunately, a few techs got the bass up and running again for I Want Out, which opened with another groovy synth part and more angst-ridden lines like “Go on and get the fuck out of my way” and “I’ll never go back to your home, but I’ll burn it down.” The song touches on a broken psychotic relationship and ends with Miller screaming, “I will escape by the skin of my teeth.” I feel as though most of us have been there at one point or another.
We had one last new song from their upcoming EP “And Jeff: Part 1”, titled Seasons. Miller passed out a tambourine and a cowbell to the audience and pounded away at a floor tom between verses. You could tell the band was exhausted by the end of the set and finished things up status quo before departing.
Miller informed me after the show that the EP series “And Jeff” would be a 16 track, two-part adventure with the first dropping on October 13, and the second part coming in the spring of 2018. The official album release show will be at The Shrunken Head, and will feature Tourist Trap and The Up All Nights as support.
After what I heard and saw tonight, you can be sure that we’ll have an exclusive review of “Part 1” coming soon!
Credit all images: Hilary Lee / Music in Motion Columbus
- Wicked Tongue
- Last Halloween
- Stapled Shut
- The Chauffer
- Tha Funk
- I Want Out
Miller and The Hunks – Wicked Tongue