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Limelight: The Wellness



The Wellness has made an impression at student music forums like the newly minted Tiny Dorm concerts, as well as the Grinnellian last year. The band, which is made up of Nathan Calvin ’18, Jacob Getzoff ’18, Justin Leuba ’18, Corey Simmonds ’17 and Michael Owusu ’17, was formed spring semester of last year. This week, The S&B’s Cassidy Hilburn sat down with the band talked with them to learn more about the inner workings of the band and their process of writing, practicing and performing songs.

The S&B: When was The Wellness formed?

Michael Owusu: The Wellness was formed at the beginning of last semester. Corey and I were coming off of another group, and three plus members of our group weren’t coming back into second semester, and Corey and I both asked each other, “What do we do?” I said, “Corey, I think we’ve both been misrepresented in [our previous band], so… I’m not doing anything.” It just started. Eventually Justin asked what were were doing musically this semester, and Corey and I just said we were going to jam, and they said they’d be down to get in on that. Nathan was the last to join, and by that point, we were all just thinking ‘this sounds too good to keep to ourselves. … Corey had songs and Justin had the drive to sit there and ask, “what are you playing?”

Justin Leuba: Once we had the harmonic structures to these songs that [Corey] had written but didn’t know how to explain written down, it just came together, and it’s really awesome to see.

How did you come up with the name “The Wellness”?

JL: It’s rare that you get a name and it just fits and everyone in the band feels the same way.

MO: I love the name “The Wellness” — it fits. Especially at the time [we started our band], start of spring semester. And it has become now exactly what I wanted it to be at the time. Flawless execution.

What is your process of writing songs?

JL: So much of what goes into our songwriting is not about thinking about the aesthetic qualities of a songwriter and checking off the boxes. When we write songs as a group, it’s all about “How is it making us feel?” “Are we grooving to this?” It’s very visceral — it’s very physically effective. The name “The Wellness” is indicative of that — we’re trying to make people feel good. … Our goal is to provide a pool of positive energy for people to swim in. Kind of from the start, I think we’ve just been trying to make music that makes us, a crowd or an individual listener feel something strongly in a constructive way.

What do you enjoy about The Wellness, compared to other bands you are in?

Nathan Calvin: I really enjoy the spontaneity and informal aspect of rehearsals. There also isn’t a lot of ego, and people are comfortable taking criticism. I think that’s especially important in kinda “jammy” music. If people aren’t receptive then it can become boring or overwhelming pretty fast.

Jacob Getzoff: There really isn’t one person writing and structuring these songs. Again, we all bring our own styles to the table, and I think that when we just jam out and communicate, nine times out of 10 we get a winning combination.

Why do you think people will like The Wellness?

NC: I think people will like it because we have a lot of energy. I also think that Corey is a terrific songwriter, and we overall have good chemistry together.

How would you describe The Wellness’s sound?

Corey Simmonds: Somewhere between funk, rock and R&B … [with] blues in there.

JG: As far as sound goes, you could put us under a “funk” label I think. But it’s worth noting that we all have our own personal styles that we bring to the table — like Corey’s R&B vibes, Justin’s folksiness — and that combination makes us hard to pin down with 100 percent accuracy.

Photo by Ellen Schoenmaker. The Wellness ­— Nathan Calvin, Jacob Getzoff, Justin Leuba, all '18, Michael Owusu and Corey Simmonds (not pictured), both '17 — has a sound that can't be categorized into one specific genre.
Photo by Ellen Schoenmaker. The Wellness ­— Nathan Calvin, Jacob Getzoff, Justin Leuba, all ’18, Michael Owusu and Corey Simmonds (not pictured), both ’17 — has a sound that can’t be categorized into one specific genre.


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