It was September 2015 and Tyler Chau needed a change.
The vocalist/guitarist and his band Sunning were breaking up after playing its final set together in Chau’s hometown of Long Island, N.Y., and like so many others raised on pop-punk and pizza, he knew hometowns were meant for leaving. After the show, Chau hopped in a car with Northeastern Pennsylvania residents George Monrroy, Josh Roberts and Andrew Mickowski and made the move to The Keystone State — a few months later, the same four young men would hop into a band they’d name Hymn.
Hymn grew from Chau’s solo project Chrysalis. Chau approached Monrroy (drums) about expanding Chrysalis into a full band and in January of this year they added Mickowski on guitar and Roberts on bass, changed the name to Hymn and started work on what would become their first full-band EP, “Mouth.” Chau’s songs were usually about himself or his significant others, but moving to the “little nice suburbia” of Kingston changed the way he looked at writing for “Mouth” and beyond.
“Once I was getting used to everything I felt like things got a little mundane and I think I was exploring these feelings of monotony through the music,” Chau said. “It was cool to write about something different other than – I’m inspired by a lot of bad stuff that’s happened, so it’s kind of a change of pace to just write about daily life.”
Chau also pulls inspiration from his job at a local bar and restaurant. The bar life isn’t something 24-year-old Chau experienced in expensive New York clubs and taverns, so it’s all new to him — the way cheap alcohol tends to make soft-spoken secrets come out truer and louder.
“You kind of just get to watch people get drunk and talk about things,” Chau said. “You get to experience a lot of different people. I have some songs I’ve written about coworkers or people. I’m vicariously experiencing their life through conversations.”
Monrroy said Hymn’s sonic emo time machine is constructed with two different blueprints. If they’re all together, Chau will throw a raw guitar riff in front of the band and each member will cannibalize it, building on until it becomes whole. If they’re seperate, Chau is known to share riffs with his three band mates, giving them time to elaborate for later collaboration. For the 20-year-old drummer, Hymn’s musical methodology translates onto stage as a fun and technically sound quartet.
“We try to have as much fun as possible,” Monrroy said. “Shows we play out of state and whatnot — we always get a great reaction afterwards. People are always telling us how fun we are and how good we sound, which is nice to hear. We put work into what we do.”
To see the fruits of that work — and hear an outsider’s take on the 570 — keep track of Facebook.com/HymnisaBand for future live engagements. Until then, check out Hymn’s two EPs (and, eventually, its currently-in-progress third) at HymnisaBand.Bandcamp.com.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts