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Columbus’ Truslow keeps its music, message upbeat

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Members of Columbus band Truslow said they are inspired by Coldplay and Switchfoot. Credit: Courtesy of Brad Heaton

In an attempt to shine light on local music, The Lantern’s “Columbus’ Own” is a weekly series that will profile a new Columbus band each week.

From caricaturing humorous life experiences to fighting the doldrums of the daily grind, Columbus-based pop band Truslow adds a dose of musical positivity to the collective art portfolio of Ohio’s capital city.

“We believe that people are battling this inner darkness that is always consuming them and hitting them from different angles,” said James Truslow, the band’s lead vocalist. “We are very intentional with our lyrics. We want to allow people to feel like they are above their circumstances. They are above whatever trials they are going through in their life.”

The band — which currently consists of guitarist Sean Mackowski, drummer Matt Myers and bassist Andrew Lee — was formed in 2013 around an eponymous EP consisting of six songs, Truslow said.

Truslow said many of the songs included in the band’s repertoire are inspired by bands like Coldplay and Switchfoot. He said Truslow takes inspiration from groups that strive to create music charged with positivity.

“Musically, really any band that genuinely articulates their music in a really unique way inspires me,” he said. “An accumulation of all of the different music that I have grown up listening to influences the songwriting that we do.”

Lee said the emotions evoked by specific aspects of songs influence him as a musician.

“I think for me, it is sometimes even a band that I don’t really know that influences me. It is a melody or a guitar part or something that hits me,” he said. “It hits me emotionally and just kind of sucks me in.”

Lee said one of his greatest musical inspirations is his brother-in-law, Josh Dun, who plays drums for Columbus-based band Twenty One Pilots.

“He pours everything he has into beating the crap out of those drums and it is awesome seeing that,” Lee said of Dun. “He has been playing drums his whole life and seeing that intensity and that much passion really inspires me to just pour more into my passions.”

As an opening band for Twenty One Pilots’ first show of its “Quiet is Violent” tour, Truslow performed in front of a sold-out crowd at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion on Sept. 4. 

Approximately 5,000 people were in attendance — the largest crowd for which the band has ever played, Truslow said.

“There is a really cool feeling when you yell out to a crowd, ‘How’s everybody doing tonight?’ And you are deafened by 5,000 voices screaming back at you,” he said. “The truth is, the (audience) feeds you that whole time. When you have people smiling and clapping, and you look out and see that people are having the time of their lives … It is better than adrenaline. It is surreal.”

Both Truslow and Lee grew up in the Columbus area and have remained here for the majority of their music careers. Truslow said the creative environment in Columbus, especially how the community embraces all types of art, makes it a great city in which to pursue his dreams as a musician.

“Columbus is a very unique city in the sense that it embraces creativity and original ideas very well,” he said. “We have a very unique opportunity in Columbus to start a band. I love the idea of taking these different elements of art and bringing them together and creating this portfolio for our city. It is just a reflection of what this city is.”

Alex Kessis, a third-year in arts management, said he started listening to Truslow in high school and enjoys the band’s sound.

“(Truslow) has a nice poppy feel, but is also more alternative rock at the same time,” he said. “I would definitely recommend them to anyone who likes Walk the Moon, Twenty One Pilots, Young the Giant or any of those kind of bands.”

Kessis said that although he has never seen Truslow perform live, he thinks songs like “Adhd,” a light-hearted song from the band’s second EP “Hurricane” and inspired by Truslow’s personal experiences of dealing with attention deficit disorder, would go over well with enthusiastic audiences.

“I like the group vocals at the beginning of that song … It has a catchy introduction. That is what drew me in immediately,” he said. “I can already guess that if they are opening for a band like Twenty One Pilots, they have to bring a lot of energy to a live show and get a lot of crowd involvement.”

The band is currently working on new material, which might be released individually or in conjunction with its next EP. Expanding the band’s touring radius outside of Columbus is also a goal for the future, Truslow said.

Truslow said he hopes the band’s songs inspire listeners to feel empowered to ask questions.

“I think we would be throwing away an opportunity if we just filled our music with fluffy lyrics,” he said. “We do it with the hope that people can relate with the authenticity and the truth behind what we sing. I want them to be inspired to ask questions they otherwise would not ask.”

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