Us, Today — a Cincinnati-based instrumental band with two members who are Ohio University alumni — will return to Casa Nueva on Friday. The show starts at 10 p.m. and costs $5 to attend.
Us, Today has played at several Athens venues previously and will return to the area Sept. 14 for the Pawpaw Festival.
Much of the inspiration for the group’s new album, Computant, including several song titles, came from spam that the band received on its Facebook page, band member Kristin Agee said.
Agee suspects the random compilation of spam, ranging from political rants in broken English to invitations to join the Illuminati, is due to the band’s similarity in name to USA Today.
Whatever the reason for the annoyance, it got the band’s creative juices flowing.
The intro to “Hello Viewer” is one of the trio’s limited spoken-word endeavors. Agee said she recorded it, then she put effects on her vocals with the program GarageBand to achieve the haunting result.
“It’s a statement on everyday life and social media and how it’s a noise in the background of our lives,” Agee said. “A part of our lives is deleting these stupid Illuminati invitations, and it takes up brain space.”
Band member Joel Griggs said that spoke to the larger theme that the band wanted to convey with the album.
“We’ve become so incorporated with our devices and that way of thinking that it’s hard to separate human interaction from computer interaction,” Griggs said. “It’s so infused with our lives that it is our lives now. It’s not just something we do.”
Agee, on the other hand, said “Spellcaster (Dr. Spirit)” is the standout track on Computant because it was recorded in one take.
“As a recording artist in the studio, you try to get your idea of perfection, and for us to all have landed on that in the same try, it really never happens,” she said.
Griggs said he liked the challenge of relating to the audience solely through the music without the use of lyrics.
“We’ve always tried to focus on being original and letting that be the connective tissue,” Griggs said. “We’re kind of all over the place stylistically, so if you like a certain type of music, you may hear something you like and we may open you up to something you’re not that familiar with.”
Agee said being an instrumental band also affects the live show experience.
“I think being instrumental leaves our music pretty open-ended, open to people’s interpretation,” she said. “I really enjoy, after shows, having people tell me what they were experiencing, because I feel like everybody experiences our music differently. And that’s cool. And we’re open to that.”
Agee said she is frustrated by audience members who have suggested that the band get a lead singer, however.
”We’ve thought really long and hard about the music, and we’ve worked really hard on it,” she said. “So it’s just a little insulting when people think that we just never considered getting a singer and, obviously, we’d be better if we got a singer.”
The trio also made it clear that the life of a road musician is far from glamorous. Agee said she came to that conclusion when the band opened for Grammy-winning musicians who proceeded to crash on her couch.
Band member Jeff Mellott added that the band’s tour vehicle for local shows is an old Chevrolet Suburban named Sharon. The band did so much bonding in the car, they named a song after her.
Mellot expressed how writing and touring with the band helped him settle into post-grad life, after leaving Athens.
“When you’re in school, you have these ideas of what you want to do and what you want to become,” he said. “And I think it’s good when you’re out of school to have something to latch onto and be creative and continue your endeavors to get better as a musician and a person.”