Band of the Week: The Speedbumps

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Meet the Band: Erik Urycki (vocals, guitar), Sam Kristoff (cello), Patrick Hawkins (percussion), Kevin Martinez (upright bass), Abby Kondas (backup vocals)

In the Beginning: Though the folk-rock band first came together in 2007, singer-guitarist Erik Urycki had been busking with cellist Sam Kristoff prior to that. When the two met drummer Patrick Hawkins, the group quickly formed. "It happened organically — musicians getting together jamming," says Urycki. "It was a fun thing to do." The band released its first album in 2009.

Varied Influences: Band members all like different types of music. "We share influences," says Urycki. "It's super eclectic. A lot of the bands we like, we don't sound like. We listen to a lot of music. We'll listen to Medeski Martin and Wood and then listen to a Counting Crows tune."

Mixing Genres: The band's semi-acoustic music has drawn comparisons to singer-songwriter types likes Jack Johnson but doesn't clearly fit into one genre. "It's not really Americana," says Urycki of the band's music. "We call it indie folk groove. It's not mainstream folk, and there's kind of a groove to it. Identifying the sound has been difficult. I was joking that we should start calling it Midwest-acana. There's a Midwest and Southern sound."

Why You Should Hear Them: Last year, the band started writing the songs that would become its new album, The Harbors We Seek. It holed up in an A-frame cabin in Pennsylvania to record. "We went there for a week and submersed ourselves in it," says Urycki. "We got this really organic and warm sound, almost like you're recording a tape." The lyrics reflect Urycki's struggles with anxiety and depression. "It's why I started writing songs in the first place," says Urycki when asked about how his anxiety informs the music. "If everything was all beer and Skittles, I wouldn't be a songwriter."

Where You Can Hear Them:

Where You Can See Them: The Speedbumps perform with JD Eicher and the Goodnights at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29, at the Kent Stage.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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