Local Beat: Student band puts “slack” in slacker rock

Self-described “weekend punks,” slackjaw is the latest group to emerge from Geneseo’s burgeoning music scene. The garage-punk outfit aims to please with a catalogue of catchy tunes that have earned them high praise from students over the last few months.

After performances at the Battle of the Bands and various local house shows, the group has made a name for itself since forming as a result of a Facebook post last semester. Lead guitarist senior Jacob Kotler got the group started with his petition for people interested in forming a “slacker rock” band.

“I had played in like a few bands back home,” Kotler said. After he came to Geneseo, however, earlier projects lost their resolve and Kotler found himself without a band. After living in New York City over the summer and writing for the first time since he had started college, Kotler felt the musician’s itch again. The summer’s recoding—which resulted in the EP Country Club with side project Sunshine Girls—inspired him to seek out a band at Geneseo.

He didn’t have to wait long. Joined in September by senior Nathan Kahn on drums, slackjaw went underway. After some friendly pestering from Kahn, sophomore Ella Mosco joined the group as lead vocalist. Junior Jon Campbell was added to the band on bass after overhearing them practice at his house one afternoon last semester.

Initially, the members of slackjaw weren’t sure of what they had created. “At the time, I still hadn’t realized it was an actual band,” Mosco said. After playing together and working on their first original song “My Room’s Not Clean,” the members realized they had something worth continuing.

Crediting their sound to the intersection of various musical influences from The Beatles to “Twin Peaks,” the members of slackjaw have resolved to keep their music fun. “When I’m writing stuff or when we’re playing, I like to think of it as what you’d want to listen to after a long, stressful week—kind of buddy music,” Kotler said. According to Campbell, the sound the band aims for is influenced by the type of shows they play. “We play at shows [for] our friends, so we like stuff that’s accessible and catchy,” Campbell said.

The band currently has four original songs that they have performed and has hinted at three more in the works. Kahn acknowledged that the songwriting process for slackjaw is defined by a minimalist approach. “I think the impetus of writing pop songs—because these are simple songs, more or less—is that when things need to be there, they’re there,” he said. “So there are fills where the need to be fills, and that’s it.”

Although slackjaw has played only a handful of shows, devotees to Geneseo’s music scene are already familiar with the band’s set. For those interested in hearing more of the band, its members have indicated that they’re working on getting those songs recorded. “By mid-April to the end of April we should have something out,” Kotler said.

Even before recording, the band’s “weekend” approach to making music has proven successful. “I wrote [‘Palisades Mall’] when I was at dinner with my mom and my grandma,” Mosco said. “I’ll be in my suite and people will just be in the shower singing it, which is really funny.”