In an attempt to shine light on local music, The Lantern’s “Columbus’ Own” is a weekly series that profiles a new Columbus band or artist each week.
The intricate rock collection Gelatinus Cube is decisively indecisive. By browsing through its lengthy catalog — consisting of five extended plays and eight albums — it can be concluded that the band has been this way for almost 15 years.
Gelatinus Cube knows what sound it wants to create for each song, but the process and genre varies from track to track.
“The idea is that it’s better to not have a specific sell, like this is a ‘blank’ band, because it limits you creatively,” said Pat Chase (guitar, vocals, piano, trombone), a 2011 Ohio State alumnus with a degree in music education. “That classic question, ‘What’s your band sound like?’ If you have an answer, that’s kind of boring if you think about it.”
The primarily seven-member ensemble is able to accomplish this task because of the wide variety of talents, which allows each musician to easily transition into a song. It won’t settle into a routine, which prevents boredom from bringing an end to the band.
“I feel like there’s definitely an evolution, and the musical tastes in this band vary tremendously,” said trumpet player and vocalist Matt Chalko.
In its close to 15-year run, Gelatinus Cube has found a way to keep its music fresh with constant evolution. The personalities and musical tastes of the band members do not always line up, but the bond between them has extended from high school almost into their 30s.
The group has consisted of five musicians who have been consistent in keeping the band’s capricious vision alive over the past fifteen years. Chalko, Chase, Tim Swanson (guitar, keyboard, vocals), Sean Castanien (saxophone, clarinet, keys, guitar, vocals) and Mike Daull (percussion) all have musical roots dating back to having sleepovers with Pepsi benders and attending Cleveland high schools that are close in proximity.
The five of them experienced the teen-angst stage together, traveled through young adulthood and are currently becoming naturalistic realists together.
“You can’t just pretend like everyone’s having a great time all the time; it’s not healthy at all,” Chase said.
The alternative rock group meets at least once a week for practice, making the inception for relatively new bandmates bassist Adam Woelfel and percussionist and vocalist Chris Cheeseman smooth.
A handful of the current members live together, some work together and for a few years, most of the band has lived together in show houses, homes that serve as a venue for musicians to creatively collaborate and socialize.
“It’s awesome and horrible at the same time,” Chase said. “But also being able to be creative is a step away. Nobody has to come over for practice; you can just have it.”
2016 marks the first time in a while that Gelatinus Cube is not residing in a show house, but little is changing while so much is happening at the same time.
“It’s like, ‘Oh, we just jammed for 15 minutes, let’s put the recorder on and try to do something like that again and then make a song out of it,’” Woelfel said.
Swanson believes the ever-changing mindsets of the bandmates can sometimes prevent the group from gaining clout.
“There are plenty of people who like very specific music and don’t like very specific music, so being a genre-less band in that way is kind of a disadvantage because most people really aren’t that curious to go look into a new band,” Swanson said.
Even though Gelatinus Cube realizes that its unorthodox approach to music might restrict it from keeping a steady fan base, the band would not have it any other way.
“The one thing about being genre-less is we want to do this because we think it’s fun,” Woelfel said. “We’re not out there going to try to sell a million records.”
Gelatinus Cube’s methodology behind how it produces albums involves using the album title as a framework for the music. For example, its most recent release, the alternative ska rock LP “24 Hour Rock and Roll,” was titled prior to a single note being produced. The project name guides the album, and it is up to the group members to interpret the meaning for themselves.
“I don’t think at any point on any of the albums recently has somebody written a part for somebody else,” Daull said.
If betting on the future longevity of Gelatinus Cube, it would be wise to assume that the bandmates will be nearing their 50s while still miles away from exhausting all of their musical muscles.
“So I guess if you’re looking for a theme, it’s no happy place, no goals, and we just keep doing it because we don’t know what else to do,” Swanson said.
The band finds it important to keep its sound unexpected.
“I think it’s more exciting to me to have Christmas actually be a holiday; to be able to unwrap (a present) and not know what the hell it’s going to be,” Chase said of the band’s ever changing sound.
Gelatinus Cube is set to play with Clay Otter and Knots at Rumba Café on March 4 at 10 p.m.