The week leading up to OLDE FRNDS’ “The Future is Unnecessary” EP release show was a notably difficult one for myself and probably most people in the Columbus area. A winter storm had left us yearning for sunshine. We were somewhat depressed while stuck in worse-than-usual traffic, slipping on ice, and losing control of our cars on the freeway – from which only some as lucky as I was got to drive away without a scratch. Miraculously, the snow held off enough on Saturday that plenty of people were able to fill Big Room Bar so our hearts could in turn be refilled.
Before their set began, the venue had already been prepped to come alive after exciting opening performances by Funk Worthy and BAVE. While OLDE FRNDS got themselves ready, the room was abuzz with friends, fans, and newcomers all anxiously waiting to hear what new vibes the band had in store for us that night. I felt especially fortunate to have gotten a sneak peak at “The Future is Unnecessary,” but was just as eager to experience it live.
I’d also been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit in and assist with an interview with most of the band earlier that week, having the chance to peak into a few of the things that make OLDE FRNDS special. The members, which consist of Dwayne (guitar), Carl (bass), Ramsey (keys), and Will (drums), had first gotten together while they all lived in Olde Towne East in June 2017. Their sound clearly comes from musical influences that are vast and varied, yet lend themselves well to be woven together.
MIMC: You guys have all been musicians for a while, what’s your music history?
Ramsey: I taught myself piano and how to produce. I started in 7th grade.
Will: My dad is a drummer and jazz musician, and my grandfather is a drummer as well, so I’m like third generation in my family of drummers. I started when I was five, I’ve been playing drums for about 30 years now and I’ve been teaching for 17 years.
Carl: I got a guitar in 7th grade and started to play bass probably a year or two later. Played a lot of metal in high school, that was kind of the only scene around. But I’ve always been drawn to technical music, so from metal it went to bluegrass, then folk, then classical… All guitar based.
MIMC: So you were basically taking darts and throwing them at a dart board, like, “What am I gonna play this year?”
Carl: Yeah, and when I was playing metal I would get comments from other guitar players because they realized we were basically playing speed metal, but I would be using jazz chords the whole time. And then, I remember I met up with Dwayne and we realized we both played and got together to see how well we could vibe off one another. It worked very well, but I was listening to the way he was writing everything and was like, “You don’t need another guitar player, you need a bass player.”
MIMC: So when you all came together in 2017, how quickly did you realize that the chemistry is there?
Ramsey: First song, first jam we did. It was really weird.
Will: Cause how it started out, it was me and Dwayne, and then Dwayne met Carl and we got together and it clicked. And then Carl was like, “Hey I know this guy who plays keys and wants to jam with us.” And as soon as that element fit in, as soon as Ramsey joined it was like… This makes sense.
In their first song of the evening, the group’s chemistry immediately shone through. Ramsey energetically called the audience to attention with a “Big Room, what’s up!” The band took a moment to dedicate their set that night to friends Eddie and Brian, who they’d recently lost, and we raised our glasses to them.
Living Is Expensive kicked off the set, seeming to emulate the mellow yet lively mood in the room. Also the first track on their new EP, Living Is Expensive is described as the bridge from their last EP to this one. The driving keys shepherded attendees into a groove, and as the tune picked up energy, so did the crowd.
With no question about its inspiration, Nighttime Smokes was introduced to us in a beautiful guitar line, around which the band gradually built. In this way, art again seemed to imitate life as this particular piece originated as an idea Dwayne wrote in high school and came to belong to the group as a whole. The intro gave me a distinct 1970’s rock and roll feel, which was only supplemented by a tambourine that Will displayed proudly from his seat, evoking cheers.
Then, a special treat for their audience and devoted fan base, OLDE FRNDS announced next in their set was something brand new – not even included in “The Future is Unnecessary.” With instructions to “fuck em up,” Will brought the intro into a cool ass groove which had everyone dancing and eagerly listening to this welcome surprise.
Having become visibly emotional, Ramsey had Will take over giving a rundown of their next selection, AFIB. Aptly named after the shorthand for atrial fibrillation, Will described the gang writing this mere days after his run-in with the terrifying medical condition. Apparently written in basically just one take, it’s a true testament to the way music helps us heal. Especially fitting for all of us there that night. Beginning very melodically, AFIB immediately felt exceptionally powerful and became downright joyous, which held their audience in rapt attention and encouraged us to recognize and appreciate the moment around us.
In keeping with the mood, the band then called for some help “getting saxy” from Funk Worthy saxophonist Chuck Worthy for a cover of Kendrick Lamar’s anthem Alright. With Chuck alternating between rapping and his sax, OLDE FRNDS performed what I can only think to describe as a fun, rocked up rendition of the hip hop track.
Departing slightly from the traditional set, but still important enough to fit into the official set list I received for the show, Ramsey took a moment to acknowledge his parents who had made the trip from Kentucky to support them. Only a few days prior had been his mother’s birthday, and the crowd gladly followed their lead in celebrating with a couple birthday songs.
With the instruction that we “gotta be dancin’ when the rhythm hits,” the crowd clapped along as Pineapple Cloud of Lies, the first single from “The Future is Unnecessary,” began. This was a finished product born from jamming together during their last EP, “The Couch.” It really was only natural to want to jam with them to this funky tune, and we certainly had no trouble making sure we were dancing. A little different than most selections of the night, Pineapple Cloud of Lies mellowed itself out, as though to give the listener enough of a refractory period for what was to come.
If one track from “The Future is Unnecessary” could be used to represent the whole EP, and maybe even the sound of the band itself, it would be Friday Night Lights. During our interview it was brought up that this was probably the “tour de force” of the EP, “hitting so many different points on the musical compass,” as described by MIMC’s Rick Gethin. A prime example of the chemistry and ease within the band, OLDE FRNDS’ members mentioned that it might just be the simplest thing they’d written so far.
MIMC: It sounds like you guys are having fun just on the recorded version, I can only imagine what it’ll be like live.
Carl: I actually hated writing that song, I couldn’t stand it while we were writing.
Ramsey: The thing that’s funny about us writing it is that I don’t even remember writing it.
Carl: The thing is the song is so big that I just have to play root notes the whole time because if I do anything else it sounds like trash. So I’m like “I’m bored,” but then the second we got in front of people it was like “Oohh that’s right, that’s why this is so fun.”
These details might actually be what helps make the track so compelling, though, as Will recognizes that the simplicity lets them “relax and just vibe and have fun.” This could not have been more apparent than at the release show Saturday, as Ramsey hopped off the stage to join the crowd, while the drum hits compelled the whole room to immediately start dancing.
The uptick in energy was unavoidable and was carried forward with each new musical element thrown our way. The dynamic range of feeling brought together in the track in turn solidified the community of their audience through this shared evening of experience.
Keeping the vibe rolling, OLDE FRNDS then invited their own old friends and fans to join them on stage and dance with them for their cover of Childish Gambino’s Redbone. Everyone who obliged knew exactly what this kind of tradition was all about. A frown couldn’t have survived in that room, as overtop of the instrumental everyone burst into the lyrics of Smashmouth’s Allstar. The comradery was infectious.
Feeding off of the goodwill in the room, an impromptu decision was made to bring out a track from “The Couch” EP, titled Fleeting Memories. Will explained that the writing of this basically happened through his jamming with Dwayne, and that it ultimately saved his life during a time when he was really struggling. The guitar-heavy and drum-filled tune added another layer to the bond attendees were sharing that night.
To round it all out, Chuck was brought back up to play saxophone for a cover of Careless Whisper by Wham! Through some twist of fate, BAVE’s guitarist, Ben, was also ushered onto the stage to handle the vocal part in a spontaneous, poor-man’s karaoke fashion: reading the lyrics off of his phone.
The excellent instrumentation bolstered the audience to sing along too, both having a blast and helping out our brand new vocalist. I doubt I’d be able to come up with a more fitting end to this uplifting evening of togetherness, gratitude, and musicianship. I feel confident that not one person walked out of OLDE FRNDS show Saturday night without a smile in their heart.
To wrap up our interview earlier in the week, MIMC asked what OLDE FRNDS’ long term goal is as a band. Besides the obvious ideal of finding their success in this industry, the members agreed they really just want to stay friends and “pump out as much music as fuckin’ possible.” We definitely want those things for these guys, too.
- Living Is Expensive
- Nighttime Smokes
- New New (Same 12)
- Alright (Kendrick Lamar cover)
- Pineapple Cloud Of Lies
- Friday Night Lights
- Redbone (Childish Gambino cover)
- Fleeting Memories
- Careless Whisper (Wham! cover)
Credit all images: Tom Bauer/Orange Attic Creative/MIMC
OLDE FRNDS – Friday Night Lights