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Columbus’ Own: Twin bond, quick execution makes The Opals shine

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Local Columbus band The Opals performs during a live show. Credit: Courtesy of Elephotography and Bethany Ellen

Local Columbus band The Opals performs during a live show. Credit: Courtesy of Elephotography and Bethany Ellen

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.

Despite its laid-back sound, The Opals are moving fast. The band’s first EP, titled “ESP,” was written, recorded and finished within two months.

The recording was done at the Mershon Auditorium, a familiar place for the four Ohio State students.

Twins Morgan and Kristin Howell and friend Alex Vonderhaar — all fourth-years in  psychology — decided to form a band in January. The trio met their freshman year in Baker Hall West and became friends through their shared major and love of music.

Daniel Seibert, a third-year in percussion performance who coincidentally lived in Baker West at the same time as the other members, answered a Facebook advertisement that the twins put out looking for members. He joined The Opals just in time to record on the EP, where he wrote some of the drum parts on the spot.

Morgan Howell even wrote one of the EP’s tracks, “Thirty,” in the early hours of the morning at Mershon during recording.

“It was fun recording the EP just because we recorded it in such a short time. We had a deadline to meet. We were just trying to get ready for this one show because the policy of the venue was all originals. So we were just trying to write as many songs as we could to play there,” Morgan Howell said.

While Morgan Howell focuses on singing and writing lyrics, Kristin Howell’s passion is guitar, which she started playing in eighth grade.  

“I had a friend who was taking guitar lessons and he would always try to show off, and he wasn’t that great. I kept thinking ‘Oh my gosh, I could totally do that better than him,'” she said.

The girls said they consider themselves each other’s best friend and insist that they’ve always gotten along.

“I can’t think of one time in our life where we’ve been arguing or fighting that lasted more than two minutes,” Morgan Howell said.

Being so close is something they believe benefits the band.

“I think it’s a definite plus. We’re very much in tune with each other naturally but also musically,” Kristin Howell said. “We were always doing music together before this, so I think all the experience we have together is a bonus when it comes to being in a larger group.”

Female-fronted bands can be hard to come by in the local music scene, and the Howells said they hope that will change.

“I think women are definitely underrepresented in the industry as a whole, but I especially don’t see a lot of women involved in the local music scene here. I’m not quite sure why that is, but I would love to see more women get involved and express their talents,” Kristin Howell said.

Morgan Howell added, “I think even more so on the technical side of music, we see a lot of underrepresentation or even just a lack of encouragement.”

Vonderhaar picked up the guitar at age 10 and “hasn’t put it down since.” He said that he usually prefers heavier music but appreciates the laid-back vibe of The Opals’ music.

Seibert played in heavy metal bands in high school before studying jazz and classical music and coming to OSU.

“I don’t think it’s so much about the style of music as much as if it grooves or not, if it feels good,” Seibert said of the type of music he enjoys.

The band members agree that their music gives off a “summery vibe” and is well-suited for driving.

“That was the test coming out of the studio, was ‘does it sound good in a car,’” Vonderhaar said.

For future shows, the band will be adding a bass player to round out its sound.

With the twins graduating this fall, the band hopes to continue on the fast track and release an album sometime next summer.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Nov. 11 to correct the spelling of Kristin Howell’s name.

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