godot. to bring own brand of ‘art rock’

Allison Bugg

godot. members Ryan Downey, Justin Hofmann, Brian Robertson and Jake Lazear recently won Battle of the Bands March 15. They will perform at 1 p.m. at FlashFest.

Credit: Beth Rankin

As the spring semester winds down and the weather turns warmer, students around campus look forward to a day of fun in the sun at the annual FlashFest event, where the mood is light and uplifting.

This year, Kent-based band godot. is performing after winning the annual ACPB-sponsored Battle of the Bands competition April 5. The group won the alternative rock night March 15 and went on to win the final battle, successfully defeating 22 other bands to earn the top spot.

But this band isn’t your average alternative rock band. Instead, godot. puts a twist on performing, creating an all-new form of alternative rock.

The twist?

Ryan Downey, the band’s guitarist, vocalist and keyboardist, describes it as an experimental artist collaboration in which a number of different people come together for the purpose of creating something unique.

During a performance, the group incorporates a guest painter into its show, where the artist paints on-stage while the band plays songs that are often long and intricate.

Downey said this has been his vision since creating the group more than nine months ago.

“The whole idea of godot. is to bring a variety of musicians and artists together so that everyone becomes a part of something bigger,” he said.

Downey, who began his music career 11 years ago, said he enjoys making music because writing lyrics provides a personal outlet for him. He also said the intense creativity the group creates on-stage makes his hard work and dedication all worth it.

Godot.’s bass player Brian Robertson, who’s been experimenting with music and a number of different instruments for 15 years, said he likes being challenged by his band mates.

“As a group, we like to explore new things and create new sounds by playing different styles of music,” he said.

Downey said the focus of godot.’s future is to tour, record and work professionally, while the band’s primary ambitions include playing music and pushing art, mainly by exposing artists.

In fact, the group is taking on social and political issues by starting a new facet in the local music scene called Artists for Activism.

Downey said godot. is planning to play benefit shows monthly to raise awareness about issues affecting young people. The goal is to build a community with artists and musicians to ultimately get things accomplished and “change the world,” he said.

Drummer Justin Hofmann began his music career 10 years ago and agrees with the group’s desire to make a difference.

When it comes to playing, he said the best part is connecting with other musicians.

Connecting with the audience also is important to everyone in this band, he said. Guitarist and keyboardist Jake Lazear said he feels the same way. He is godot.’s most recent addition, joining three months ago, and has been involved with music for nine years.

“One of my favorite things about playing music and being in a band is the satisfaction I feel when things work on-stage,” he said.

Hofmann said the group tries to get together and practice at least twice a week, but it’s not always that easy because everyone keeps a busy schedule.

Downey said they have been practicing new material for some time, and he hopes to debut some songs during their FlashFest performance.

“With our two Battle of the Bands performances, we improvised on a certain level because we didn’t have a specific set list. For this performance, though, we’re working to come up with one and stick to it instead of playing whatever we feel like playing,” he said.

But no matter what this band chooses to do or where it chooses to go, Downey said godot. will continue to be a vehicle for any form of art.

Contact local music reporter Allison Bugg at [email protected].