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Columbus’ Own: Room & Board’s identity crisis is over

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Columbus band Room and Board. Credit: Courtesy of Lauren Tuttle edited by Andy Foster

Columbus band Room and Board. Credit: Courtesy of Lauren Tuttle edited by Andy Foster

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.

Cease and desist. In other words, rename your band.

That’s what Nick Baker, Andy Foster and Jonathan Hape had to do three years ago for their band, Honeymoon.

A Los Angeles-based band already had the name copyrighted and triggered a self-described identity crisis as the trio tried to rename themselves. After three months of deliberation, they finally settled on Room & Board, one of their top choices from when the band formed back in 2010.

Now what remains of Honeymoon is an old Facebook page, a bunch of T-shirts and stickers and, of course, all of the original members.

Lead singer and guitarist Hape formed the band quickly by telling drummer Foster and bassist Baker, individually that his band had flaked out on him for an upcoming show.

“I had a solo show booked for a Wednesday. We decided to form a band on a Saturday, practiced three songs on Sunday. I wrote three more songs on Monday, we practiced before the show,” Hape said.

Even though the band was put together in haste, music has been a lifelong love for the members.

After playing around with his church drummer’s drums, Foster got a set of his own in seventh grade. His interest in music came from his father, who worked as a record distributor and gave him some classic rock albums, like Rush and Led Zeppelin.

Besides music, Foster does all of the graphic design for the band. He used to make a living doing photography and videography, but now he teaches photography classes and yearbook at Oakstone Academy, a high school dedicated to kids on the autism spectrum. Foster, whose own brother is autistic, said the work is very rewarding.

“I’ve learned to teach them in the way that I would have really liked to have learned, which is really hands-on. We go out and we do it as opposed to sitting in a classroom all day and reading out of a book,” he said.

Baker’s inspiration to get involved with music came from one of the most unlikely of places: a cartoon.

“There was a ‘Simpsons’ episode where Homer was in jail, and there was someone else in there who said they were Michael Jackson. And I go to school and I’m emulating that Michael Jackson voice. I had no clue I could sing, and people were like ‘sing that again, you can really sing!'” Baker said.

Baker said that one of the most important things is enjoying himself when playing music. It’s an added bonus that his wife and two young daughters approve.

“I was showing my wife the new recordings and (my daughter) comes around the corner and is like ‘that’s the sound my daddy makes.’ She just recognized it,” Baker said.

Hape said he had similar reactions to his father’s music as a child. Hape’s father gave him a guitar — the same one he uses today — and taught him how to record himself using a tape recorder when he was in fifth grade. Songwriting began even earlier, in second grade.

“I was obsessed with Kriss Kross, so I had a rap group that was called The Weird and Wacky Warriors and wrote songs like ‘School is Cool’ and ‘Ello Mate,’ which was all about living in Australia,” Hape said.

His songwriting has clearly evolved since then and now explores more dynamic topics, such as love, relationships and political issues.

While song titles like “Propaganda of a Deed” might sound critical and negative, Hape said there’s a deeper message.

“I think the songs are more hope-based … For the most part, I’m less anti-authority and more pro-harmony,” Hape said.

In their upcoming EP titled “There’s No One Else That You’ll Ever Be (and if you can hang with that you’ll do fine),” one of the songs, “Against,” is about him and his wife.

“It’s not a love song, it’s a ‘this is worth it’ song. It’s a song about the struggle,” Hape said.

The band has chosen to release their upcoming EP on vinyl and digital download only, because the members believe those forms will attract the most buyers, among other reasons.

“I’m such a visual person. I love having something to hold and look at,” Foster said.

Baker has collected records for years.

“For me it’s nostalgia. I used to get excited to go into used record shops and search for my favorite bands on vinyl. How cool would it be if I was searching through there and saw a Room & Board vinyl,” he said.

Room & Board plans to release the EP online this month and the vinyl should be available in the first part of 2016.

Room & Board’s next show will be Friday at the Big Room Bar at 9 p.m., and it is open to 18 years old or over. Admission is $5.

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