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Student bands perform in Cleveland lounge

Patrick Armstrong ’18 of Comic Sans performed last weekend. Photo by Jenny Chi
Seth Hanson ’17 opened the show in Cleveland Lounge. Photo by John Brady
Seth Hanson ’17 opened the show in Cleveland Lounge. Photo by John Brady

A small crowd gathers in what seems to be one of the smallest residential lounges on campus Saturday night to celebrate the double release of The Additional Six’s EP, “Rolling In,” and Comic Sans’ EP, “This Garbage.” Seth Hanson ’17 from The Additional Six begins the show at around 10 p.m. More people trickle in throughout his set. The bassist from Comic Sans, Thomas Grabinski ’15, asks the growing crowd to stand up and make room for the students waiting outside the lounge after The Additional Six finishes. The room is full of sweaty but pumped Grinnellians when Comic Sans begins to jam out.

Patrick Armstrong  ’18 of Comic Sans performed last weekend. Photo by Jenny Chi
Patrick Armstrong ’18 of Comic Sans performed last weekend. Photo by Jenny Chi

But long before the double release show, Comic Sans originally started out as a two-member band in the summer of 2014. Patrick Armstrong ’18, vocalist, and Jenkin Benson ’17, guitarist, sent each other correspondence.

“At the beginning of the summer I went through a breakup and I was sad. I met Jenkin and he was like my rebound bro,” Armstrong joked. “We talked all the time and we were like, ‘Let’s start as a band,’ sort of as a joking thing, but then we were like, ‘We should actually start as a band.’”

Soon enough, Grabinski joined the band. After the band lost an integral member in the fall, Jacob Getzoff ’18, drummer, was asked to join. Finally, Zack Stewart ’17, keyboardist, joined to complete the currently five-member band.

The band’s name came about after Armstrong and Benson sent each other messages with different band names. It wasn’t until Grabinski was at a concert that he received a message about Benson’s idea for a new band name.

The name was inspired by the band Mineral and their album, “The Power of Failing,” which was written in the font comic sans.

“At the time, I don’t think comic sans [the font] was universally declared as childish, so later, the band came out with a statement how they apologized for using comic sans,” Benson said. “I think the anecdote inspired [the name of the band].”

Fast forward several months later and their debut EP, “This Garbage,” came to fruition over winter break after playing songs from the EP at last semester’s Showvember showcase of student bands.

“We banged [the EP] out, man. It was two days,” Benson said. “It’s not the most polished EP out in the world but compared to other bands that, I think, would be in our scene of the Internet, it’s more polished than a lot of Extended Plays I’ve heard.”

After 12 hours in the studio with the complete band and then three additional hours of mixing, “This Garbage” was born in Jonathan Edwards’ studio. In addition to being the Associate Director of Admission and Coordinator of International Admission, Edwards already had a history with working with student bands when he joined forces with Comic Sans. Grabinski corresponded with Edwards after hearing the positive experiences other students had when they recorded with Edwards. After Getzoff, Benson and Grabinski met with Edwards and recorded scratch takes of their material, they agreed to work together.

“He was like, ‘Oh, you guys sound like The Smiths,’ and we were like, ‘Well, that makes sense,’” Grabinski said. “I like it the more and more I listen to it. I’m proud of it.”

The band’s enthusiasm for “This Garbage” was reflected onstage when they played in front of their peers after Hanson’s set.

“[The songs] also came out of us in a different way when we performed them. It was so much more well-composed and rehearsed and more serious,” Armstrong said.

In contrast, at least sonically, Hanson serenaded the audience before Comic Sans took the stage. Hanson said that he named his project “The Additional Six” after realizing that he had six personas and needed an outlet. Since creating The Additional Six, Hanson has played numerous shows on campus, but approached Comic Sans over break to perform a dual show.

“I knew they were working on something over the break and assumed that they were planning a show in the future,” Hanson said.

After their successful show, The Additional Six and Comic Sans can’t wait to see where the future takes them. Music from both bands is available on Bandcamp.

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