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.
Earlier this month, Typewriter John and the Blue Strings beat out five other groups to win Operation Smile’s Battle of the Bands.
The fundraiser was set up as one long table with a jar for each of the six bands. The audience was asked to put donations into the jar of the band they liked the most. Whoever raised the most funds for Operation Smile won Battle of the Bands.
Despite the event being the band’s first performance, the group managed to win over the audience and gain the most donations to take home a trophy, a $50 gift card to Guitar Center and a $100 gift card to Oldfield’s North Fourth Tavern.
“I don’t think any of us went into the battle of the bands expecting to win, but we went in there with a very winning spirit,” said bassist John Moody, a second-year in civil engineering. “I think not holding back during the performance and going in there with a ‘let’s win this thing’ attitude really helped us out, especially onstage.”
The band gave a lively performance of one original and a cover of The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face.” During the cover, vocalist and guitarist Nathan Lamba upped the energy by jumping into the crowd.
“I’ve known Nathan a really long time and I think that about sums up his personality,” said pianist John Altman, a third-year in chemical engineering.
Lamba, a third-year in biomedical engineering, said the performance was representative of the band as a whole as well, explaining that the group is just as energized during rehearsals.
He described the band’s sound as “indie-blues” because it blends characteristics of alternative music and blues rock.
“Every song we play is five minutes of the actual written song and then five minutes of just going around the circle and going crazy with the soloing,” Lamba said.
The musicians’ backgrounds likely contribute to the band’s sound. Moody and drummer Patrick Sanders both played in bands during high school, while Altman and lead guitarist Ellis Mayton spent time with school jazz bands. Lamba had not played in a band before, but he brings knowledge of a variety of different stringed instruments.
The band name comes from an attempt to capture the group’s sound in words. Lamba initially took inspiration for the name from Altman’s piano playing.
“It’s kind of like he’s playing a typewriter,” Lamba said. “That’s kind of cool — kind of old-fashioned, bluesy.”
“The Blue Strings” was added to describe the rest of the band, particularly the influence of blues and the use of stringed instruments.
The group started as a two-piece band. Sanders, a second-year in ecological engineering, said that he and Lamba were inspired after watching a set by rock duo The Black Keys during Bunbury Music Festival.
“We thought, ‘Hey, there’s one drummer and one guitarist and they have a band. Why can’t we do that?’” he said. “So we were like, ‘We should make a band at school next year.’”
With no place for his drum set at school, Sanders said he asked to store it in Lamba’s basement. The two added other members based on shared musical interests. Lamba invited Mayton and Altman to jam and Sanders recommended Moody shortly after to finalize the lineup.
“It was sort of a musical connection, not necessarily starting with us playing together,” said Mayton, a third-year in welding engineering. “It blossomed into something pretty nice.”
Even with five members, Typewriter John and the Blue Strings has no trouble fitting the different instruments together. The band members said they clicked immediately.
“None of us are ever really overlapping too much,” Moody said. “We all know exactly where our place is in the music.”
Mayton agreed, comparing the band to a puzzle.
“Every piece has to be there in the right space,” he said.
The new band is looking to expand upon the success of its first show with recorded music as soon as possible and more shows in the spring.
“We’ve been in the studio a lot working on original music,” Sanders said.
The group intends to release its first single next month with plans of building a repertoire of original music after that.
“The limiting factor is not how fast we can write songs,” Lamba said. “It’s how fast we can record them.”