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Columbus’ Own: Mistar Anderson shoots for the stars on stage

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Mistar Anderson performs on stage at Newport Music Hall. Credit: Courtesy of Stage Media.

Every band has an origin story. For Andre Walker and Eric Rollin — the creators of Mistar Anderson — it all started with a song shared after a concert more than six years ago. Rollin and Walker had played in two different acts that night.

“We met at the Space Bar,” Walker said. “(Rollin) was like ‘Dude I’ve been digging on this music,’ so we went to his car and listened to it. I actually had the CD in my car, so I gave it to him.”

Rollin said the song was ‘Do the Astral Plane” by Flying Lotus.

“He gave me the CD, and I uploaded it on my hard drive at work so every computer I was on, I could listen to it,” Rollin said.

The group Mistar Anderson didn’t get its start until a couple of years later, when Rollin called Walker to put together a cover band with some friends.

“It was my job to pick the drummer,” Rollin said. “(Walker) was my first call.”

Since then, Mistar Anderson has evolved into a larger, jazz and hip-hop influenced ensemble. While the number of musicians sometimes changes, Rollin on vocals and Walker on drums are permanent fixtures. The current lineup features Ryan Sullivan on guitar, Elaine Mylius on trombone and Ohio State student Jon Weisbrot, a third-year in music education, on the saxophone.

“We started as a cover band. But I brought a couple of beats to the band, and everyone was like ‘Let’s start doing some of these (beats),’” Walker said. “The beats are really raw, they come from records, samples of records, some YouTube (videos) — it’s a collaboration of everything incorporated with media.”

Walker and Rollin both believe that, while they consider themselves a hip-hop group, they make sure their lyrics focus on positivity and love, instead of stereotypical rap themes.

“I try to be truthful and honest about my environment in a positive way,” Rollin said. “I’ve realized that what you say, and the message you convey, can either be used as a weapon or to better your surroundings. I choose to use it in a way to benefit others.”

Walker said the group is also different in the way they perform — the majority of hip-hop artists rap to a pre-recorded background track, but Mistar Anderson does it all live on stage.

“Most of the beats (in hip-hop) are programmed,” Walker said. “What we bring to the table is acoustic instruments for everything, but we try to keep the same dynamic of a programmed beat, just with a live band as the focus.”

Rollin said he feels it is the band’s live element that truly sets Mistar Anderson apart from other current artists.

“The live shows make all the difference because people get to see the chemistry by watching everything happen,” Rollin said. “It’s like going to a Japanese steakhouse — you pay for the experience.”

This style of performing has garnered a lot of attention: Mistar Anderson has played close to 100 gigs in the few years the group has been active. Rollin said the group has appeared at the Newport Music Hall, the Rehab Tavern and will soon be heading out on tour.

“The tour will just be eight of us plus a light guy,” Rollin said. “We’ll be going to Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and cities around Ohio.”

In addition to the upcoming tour, new music is also in the works. Rollin said within the next three months, the group will have 10 tracks available for streaming on iTunes, SoundCloud, Bandcamp and Spotify.

As for where Mistar Anderson wants these next big steps to take it, the band members are nothing if not ambitious — and direct.

“Are you kidding me? (I want) a Grammy,” Walker said. “They don’t even have to invite us, just give us one.”

Mistar Anderson’s next show will be April 1 at the Vanderelli Room at 218 McDowell St. The event starts at 5 p.m. and admission is $5 at the door.

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