In a quaint brewery nestled in the middle of farmland, the members of Old Hundred crooned and strummed guitars.
On Feb. 15, rock band Old Hundred played for a small audience at Rockmill Brewery in Lancaster. Although not one to perform in large-scale tours, the down-to-earth band draws fans to the venues where they do perform and has a strong following within Ohio.
The group’s most recent album, “Let in the Light,” recently was named third best local album of 2014 by Columbus Alive.
Old Hundred began with childhood friends Nate Gelinas and Jon Helm and soon after added members Blake Skidmore, Hal Hixson and Gordy Smith. They started out playing in-house shows around campus in April 2009, vocalist and guitarist Blake Skidmore said. The band has evolved since its inception to branch out into new musical styles and expand members’ roles, said Hixson, vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player for the band.
“It started out really folky and simple and then it became pretty rock ‘n’ roll,” he said. “There was a lot of folk stuff from the ‘70s that were influences and rock ‘n’ roll from the ‘90s but then (also) some ambient noises that were more like contemporary bands like Fleet Foxes or Wilco.”
The earthiness and melodic layered vocals give Old Hundred an ethereal quality that might be what made Old Hundred stand out to Paste magazine, which included the band in its 2012 list of “10 Ohio Bands You Should Listen to Now.”
Following a nine-month break in 2012, after feeling burnt out, Old Hundred returned to the scene fresh and re-energized, Skidmore said.
“We’re a better band. We wrote (‘Let in the Light’) more as a consisting unit,” Skidmore said. “The other thing we did before this album is we went to a cabin and really focused on rewriting the songs together … Everybody felt very involved.”
All the members of Old Hundred write songs and share different roles, whether that be taking turns singing lead or switching instruments, Skidmore said.
“(All) of us write songs, so it feels like a real band dynamic where everybody’s bringing something,” Hixson said.
The band, which originated in Columbus, has always felt well-received in their hometown, Skidmore said. Although the members have never formally toured, they feel lucky for the critical acclaim and attention they have gained around Ohio. Skidmore said that the support and enthusiasm from fans has made all band members thankful.
“(For) people to recognize that we’re doing something special, we feel lucky that that’s happened because it takes really hard work to get out there and set yourself apart at a national level,” he said. “For us to be able to get that in Columbus, without being able to do some of the things that other bands do (like tour), is really great.”
Though the band has no plans to go on the road and tour, its members hope their fans’ current interest and attention will follow any other albums they release.
“If Old Hundred could release another album in a few years … and people still cared in Columbus, that would be pretty amazing for us,” Skidmore said. “We just have recognized we really love what we’re doing and we work hard at it, but we’ve kind of gotten pretty comfortable with our limitations.”
Skidmore and Hixson encourage other aspiring musicians and bands to write music and play as often as possible with authenticity.
“Try to experience something with people, not portray something,” Skidmore said. “Go out there and play and be nice to people and be yourself.”
Correction: A prior version of this article’s caption misspelled Jon Helm’s name.