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Concert Preview: One Eye Theory

Grant Walters Grant Walters Concert Preview: One Eye TheoryPhoto by Bob Schnees.
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Local live favorites are set to usher in its first album, "Good Times & Strife" with a release party and concert Friday night at Spacebar

Local quintet One Eye Theory is celebrating the release of its first album, Good Times & Strife, tonight at Spacebar in Old North Columbus on Saturday night. For a band that’s been playing and writing together for the better part of a decade, the decision to wait on putting out a debut record this late in the game might seem unconventional to most. But according to guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist Luke Kucalaba, there was a method to their madness.

“The first tracks for this album were recorded in 2010,” he reveals. “We’ve been working on it seasonally mostly over the long winters, but the truth is we probably enjoy the creative aspects of writing new songs and playing music together for its therapeutic value more than the arduous recording process.  It has always been a long term goal of ours to record a full-length studio album, and it just took us a while to get it done because we want to do everything ourselves and give the listener the authentic One Eye Theory experience, straight from the musicians.

Music is the fuel that keeps our spirits high and makes us feel alive.  But we’re busy people, dedicated to our families and absorbed in our careers and lives outside music.  Recording a studio album is a whole lot of work, not to mention expensive and risky as a business venture given the challenges facing today’s music industry.  Our strategy was to donate our time in the long run and utilize our collective professional skills in engineering, graphic design, software, marketing, sales, etc to produce the album ourselves on a shoestring budget.  There’s also a whole art to the recording and mixing process, and we didn’t want to outsource any opportunities for creativity.”

Kucalaba, who also produced the album, along with Leo Patton (electric guitars, vocals), Scott Biggs (drums, vocals), Matthew Hittle (acoustic and electric guitars, harmonica, trombone, vocals), and Kurt Maxwell (bass, vocals) tout themselves as a “band of songwriters”. “We all came from various places musically and emotionally,” Kucalaba shares. “But as far as songwriting we each bring different contributions to the table and work with each other to fill in the gaps.  Over time we have developed a collaborative songwriting ecosystem where we each contribute song ideas and develop them almost democratically to produce music that is far greater than just the sum of its parts.  Usually we start with an idea for a song, and it just takes off almost organically into a life of its own into something that we could never have foreseen at the outset.  The creativity of songwriting is definitely a major component of our identity, but also is the blend of diverse styles and musical personalities we each bring.

Each of us in the band have very different personalities, not to mention wide-ranging political and religious views, and while we have all experienced life individually in so many different ways we all share the desire to support each other in each of our own unique musical aspirations.  Sometimes we call ourselves the Band of Density…or destiny…because it is almost dumb luck and happenstance that brought us all together in the first place.”

“A lot of albums and live shows have the same sound start to finish. That can be a great thing,” echoes band mate Scott Biggs. “We love The Ramones and AC/DC and a hundred other bands because of that. We are filtering five songwriters and singers through the creative machine of One Eye Theory. One of us could write a very personal, quiet love song and surrender it to the band and after an hour, it has a disco beat, a trombone solo, four-part harmony and a searing guitar solo and is a much better song because of it. We are all lucky we found other musicians who really enjoy crafting songs as much as we enjoy playing them.”

Good Times & Strife is a lovingly crafted effort that reflects a diversity of genres and musical perspectives. Kucalaba insists that retaining the same organic, live feel of the band’s gigs was an important – and intentional – priority in his work as producer. “As the producer, one of my objectives was to capture the authenticity of the music without over-producing and perfecting every little detail.  Especially the beat.  An important part of music for me is not only recognizing our individual imperfections but also cherishing them more like personality traits.  That being said, you want to record music that isn’t sloppy or grossly error-prone, so it will have a lot of good replay value.  Suffice to say there’s a compromise you draw there, between the live vibe and studio magic produced, which is where the art lives is in the recording and mixing process.”

The album’s novel-like title was lifted from one of its tracks (“Hand in Glove”), but it’s not a coincidence that it implies some autobiographical emotion, according to Kucalaba. “Aside from a couple fun songs on the album that exercise various artistic freedoms, most of the songs are introspective reflections on our personal lives.  Deep seeded memories, emotional turning points, love and companionship, long-lasting feelings of frustration and sadness; these are the things worth writing about that make us feel alive.  This being the first album, most of the songs are our earliest works that were written prior to or at the beginning of the band’s formation, encapsulating where each band member was coming from emotionally and spiritually.  We are prolific songwriters and have plenty of new material to draw from for the next album – hopefully much sooner than another decade – which will present more of a progression of the band as it has evolved from a rag-tag group of diverse individuals into a more distinct musical sound all its own.”

If One Eye Theory fans might be concerned that the band’s upward progress might take them away from their Columbus roots, Kucalaba assures that they’re not looking to make any radical departures. “We have deep roots in Columbus and we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.  We love this town and our lives are firmly woven into the fabric of this city.  We also are deeply committed to our spouses, families, and careers that keep us grounded and not pursuing daydreams of worldwide fame and fortune, which probably would run the risk of destroying everything that is great about our band – and our lives.”

One Eye Theory will be at Spacebar on Friday, March 17, 2590 High St., along with special guests Charlie Murphey and Bridge Construction. Doors open at 8:00 p.m.; music begins at 8:30 p.m. Admission (18+ permitted) is $5.00 ($7.00 for guests under 21).

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