When the members of St. Louis-bred and pop-infused Tidal Volume began college, they thought their band had seen its last day. As a project that started in high school, they figured that they had their fun and, besides, college is a lot of work.
But then they remembered. They remembered that being in a band is their best creative outlet. They remembered the bands that they still like from middle school, like Weezer and The Plain White T’s. And they remembered that being in a band is what they love.
Before they were Tidal Volume, though, the quintet was a brotherly duo. Singer and guitarist Zach and drummer Matt Sullentrup grew up playing music together. When Zach was a junior and Matt a freshman, they expanded their band to include bassist Andrew Scherping for their high school’s Battle of the Bands.
“(The high school) needed an extra band to play because they needed four bands for the school to consider it a battle,” Zach says. “Otherwise, it would have had to have been a showcase because three isn’t enough for a battle, apparently. So these seniors came to Andrew and I, and they were like, ‘Hey we wanna do this battle. Wanna start a band to play in it?’ And we were like, ‘Uh, okay.’ So I’ve been writing songs, and my brother and I have been working on those songs, and Andrew hopped in and learned them really quick. We threw together a show and got second place out of four.”
They later added keyboardist Will Minard and guitarist Chris Jansson.
“We all met really naturally,” Zach says. “It was a really organic thing where we were all friends and decided to start a band together. It’s a thing we always wanted to do and we never had the opportunity really and had never really found the people and then we were all just together and were like, ‘Hey, let’s do it,’ so we did and haven’t looked back since.”
Since forming in 2010, Tidal Volume has released two EPs and a single. They released their last EP, “Icing,” a pop driven work with brushstrokes of rock in June 2014. The band is currently writing and demoing new material for a future release but has not yet decided on the length.
Zach is the primary songwriter of the group, writing what he calls “modified fiction.”
“A lot of (the songs) are intentionally romanticized versions of real experiences to make them more broad so people can relate to them more,” Zach says. “When you get too specific sometimes, I think it’s hard for people to really relate their own experiences to it. When you write broadly and kind of change things ever so slightly but leave them intact, it makes it more relatable for people. A lot of the songs are based on real experiences; some of them are based on friends’ experiences. It’s all comin’ straight from the heart.”
After writing the songs, Zach brings his work to the band.
“It goes from like that form to the band form where it often gets shifted around a little bit, but the structure remains intact usually,” Zach says. “Usually it doesn’t shift too far from where it starts. We workshop it and go back and forth, and we talk about it and make sure it’s where we want it to be before we perform it. After we perform it, we’re like, ‘Okay, how can we do it better?’ And then that’s usually the version that gets recorded.”
Tidal Volume have recorded their discography thus far with Aaron McBaker at AMcB Studios. Zach says they enjoy recording with McBaker because the band is given a lot of creative freedom.
Though all five members hail from the same high school in St. Louis, each of them comes from different musical worlds.
“I’m into a mix of things,” Zach says. “I like hip hop, and I like indie rock, and I like mainstream rock, and I really like pop albums, too. Our keyboard player likes metal and folk music. My brother Matt is really into jazz and indie rock. We all come from different places and we all meet in this weird middle ground — that’s where our sound is.”
Despite their varying musical tastes, they all share a love of Weezer and the ’80s.
“We never lose the different influences, and they all come together in a way that makes sense,” Zach says.
Particularly, the band still holds strong to bands they enjoyed in middle school. They are in no way ashamed of their middle school tastes, they say, because they have even had the opportunity to play for said bands.
“We got to open for the Plain White T’s two summers ago,” Zach says. “That was really awesome because that was a band that we grew up listening to and probably in a way have influenced our songs and our writing ... that was a band that we all liked in middle school, and ‘Hey There Delilah’ was huge when we were that age.”
Tidal Volume has also opened for bands like Jukebox the Ghost, The Mowgli’s and Tommy and the High Pilots.
“It’s cool to get to play with people who are one step ahead of where you are,” Zach says. “When we get to play with these bands who are national touring acts, a lot of the time they’re starting to really build a name for themselves and get well known. It’s cool because part of it is like, ‘Oh, my friend’s band is playing these cool shows,’ and part of it is just that we get to interact with these people that have a lot to tell us and offer us, and it’s a really good experience just getting to meet people and operate with people that can teach you something.”
On April 9, Tidal Volume will be playing with two fellow Mizzou bands, Ray Wild and Dangerfield, at Rose Music Hall. Tickets are $5.
“We want people to dance and to be goofy, and we will do the same,” Zach says. “You can expect a high-energy live show. We’re never wanting to have a crazy artistic experience on stage. It’s all about throwing a party.”