Joseph Janko / Lantern photographer
Local band Glow Merchants has faced obstacles in making itself work, but fate has worked to its benefit so far.
The band originally formed as a quintet in 2006 when guitarist and vocalist Tony Gregory was asked to sing by Josh Hlad, the group’s backup singer and second guitarist. The group scheduled a concert but did so before it found someone to play drums. With the concert quickly approaching, a frustrated Gregory yelled from a friend’s porch, “Why can’t I find a drummer?”
“To the left, the house directly next door, I just hear somebody yell, ‘Uh, there are three drummers over here,'” Gregory said. “Dave (Bowman) was the only one that had a car or a drum kit that he could move to our practice space, so he was the winner, and my God, I couldn’t be happier.”
The group formed under the title Glow Merchants, a name band members picked because it “sounded cool,” Gregory said.
After playing shows around the city, three members moved away, including current guitarist Hlad. Gregory and Bowman continued to write music together during that period, as they still felt a strong connection to the music. Eventually Hlad moved back to Ohio, and the group reformed as a three-piece band.
The band modified its original “psychedelic” style to something more vocal and melody-driven and released an EP in December 2009.
“It’s very melodic,” 24-year-old Hlad said about the band’s sound. “There’s a lot going on, it’s intricate, there’s a lot to listen to.”
The group’s use of an unorthodox guitar technique called “touch tapping,” which allows the musician to play multiple parts on a single guitar, aids its sound.
Gregory said the band never formally agreed on one style but rather molds its sound around the influences of each member. The group members also said they prefer a “raw sound,” rather than the “over-produced” polish of many modern records.
“It’s very live-sounding,” Hlad said. “The way we record too, we just record everything all live with mics, and Tony does vocals over it. We don’t really do a click track.”
A click track is the sound of a steady pulse musicians often play along to while recording in a studio. Its purpose is to keep all the musicians locked into a steady tempo, but some feel that it robs the “soul” of the music.
The group said the size and diversity of the Columbus music scene was responsible for the acceptance of the band, but it feels there is a lack of community and that many local bands over-saturate their fans by playing the same locations too often.
Gregory said for the Columbus music scene to “make it,” bands would need to give each other “the leg up,” and that music fans should become more active in exploring local concert venues.
“There’s a bunch of really good stuff that’s out there,” he said.