The short life-span of local bands often leads to great collaborations that may not have happened otherwise. More often than not, you find an old band that simply couldn’t make things work with their previous members and decided to reform under a different name.
Such a tale describes the birth of the group Henodus, formed from the remnants of Dressed in Electric. While the demise of the former was amicable, singer/guitarist Bo Corbin and drummer Adam Dencer knew they had plenty left in the tank and set out to find a new group of musicians to rock with.
The duo immediately called upon high school pal Jayson Arcos (formerly of Nystagmus) to play guitar, and later found bassist Trent Boham to round out the lineup. The group has quickly gained notoriety around the city for their powerful live shows, which have been described as a “full-throttle locked-in groove.” Corbin says he’s not sure whether it’s because the new group has evolved to a better sound, or if it is simply because they’re not trying to sound like “Blitz Rock.”
“I HATE Blitz rock!” he said. “It’s almost like the same thing recycled through six different bands in a row!”
The sound of Henodus can be traced back to the variety of influences that each member brings to the table. Corbin says he loves sludge metal, but when he sings he goes for a more southern rock vibe. Arcos considers himself a huge metalhead while Dencer just likes to make as much noise as possible. Corbin says that Boham brings it all together by playing his own carefully crafted blend of Tool-influenced signatures.
“It may sound insane on paper, but when you put it together it ends up creating a monster of its own.”
Describing their sound as “monstrous” fits the bill with the name Henodus, which comes from an ancient Carnian-age Placodant reptile similar to a tortoise. It was one of the first reptiles to have a shell and also had a beak for eating. Corbin says that his son is obsessed with prehistoric dinosaurs, and they were just throwing around more obscure names when they landed on Henodus. He says they weren’t specifically looking to choose a unique name, they just wanted something to be their own.
“It definitely gets the conversation going,” he admitted, “and I’m not sure if it hurts or helps us that no one knows how to spell or pronounce it.”
Even more intriguing than their name is the group’s approach to recording. Rather than putting tons of polish on their sound, the band opted for more of an old-school approach. Corbin says he got the idea from his uncle, a self-proclaimed music trivia genius who was always telling him about how old bands would just record what they had without messing around too much. He says that his hope is that fans will love them not only for their recordings, but especially for their live act.
“We like to consider our live show to be… a lot like high energy bullshit,” he laughed, “but my personal favorite thing is picking out little nuances that bands throw in live. That’s the best thing about live music – you never actually know what might happen. I’d like to think I can add a little special something to every show that you might not find on our recordings.”
It definitely caught me off guard to hear their first recorded offering, titled Here Come The Ants. It has an opening riff that would not be out of place on a Mastodon record, and layers of sludgy grooves. It’s an auditory punch in the face that lifts you up off the ground and keeps your toes tapping.
But for all the goodness that’s chocked into a four-and-a-half minute package, it’s apparently just a boggy one-take demo recorded into a couple of microphones. Corbin told me that he felt lucky that they were able to work with their producer from the Dressed in Electric Days, Brandon S Hire. Corbin says that Hire essentially let the band make the sound they wanted to, and threw in some wacky ideas to get the specific tone they were looking for.
“At one point, we were playing an electric acoustic guitar through a distorted amp played through another distorted amp. We took the guitar and propped it up onto a mic stand and played it like a slide with the side of the SM-57 microphone,” says Hire. “As I played the track back to them, I could see Bo literally dancing on the floor of the studio. It was perfect!”
Listening to the song, it definitely doesn’t sound like anything that I had heard before, or at least in a long time. Corbin says he wants to bring hard rock back to the forefront in Columbus, where it used to be a decade or so ago. We reminisced about old venues around town, long since forgotten and wondered why that sound had declined in Ohio.
“It honestly comes back to the whole ‘Blitz Rock’ thing,” opined Hire. “All of these bands are just cutting and pasting riffs and nothing is memorable any more. We want to make something memorable!”
Even more so, we talked about how music as a whole has changed. It would seem that so many music critics think that hard rock and metal are dying genres, but Corbin believes it is the opposite. He says that no matter how good or bad the music is, people are still talking about it. And as long as people are still talking about it, they will continue to make it.
“It isn’t even so much that the music has changed. Even back in the day there was some good music and a lot of bad music. It was just more memorable back then,” he adds. “These days, it’s just so much easier to assimilate and overexpose popular items. The model of how popular music is absorbed has changed, but there are still just as much good and bad as there was in years gone by.
“But for me, it will always be about making the connection with listeners.”
As far as making those connections, the band is playing out in Illinois on the March 24 before coming home on April 27 to play United in Concert – an Autism Awareness and Fundraising show at Bethel Road Pub. (We’ll have more on that show as the date approaches.) The boys are also looking to put together a four-song EP and hopefully a full album by next year. Corbin says he loves the idea of doing full concept albums, but they just don’t have that kind of budget. In fact, he would be completely satisfied just making one or two really great songs and “a whole lot of good fluff.”
“One of my main issues is that I’m always trying to think one step ahead,” he says. “Once I’m done with one song, I’m already thinking about five more. The nice thing is that my current group of dudes is willing to work with me on that.”
To this writer, it sounds like that is a good recipe for success. If nothing else, it sounds like a fun time, and isn’t that what rock music is really all about?
Henodus – Here Come The Ants