Mad Yonder is a genre enigma in the best way. The band prides themselves on being different and innovative. Their EP, released this January, was a long time coming but proved to be worth the wait as the band honed their sound and settled into their new dynamic. Mad Yonder has been through many transitions over the years. Their sound picking up little bits of each person or time in the bands history, giving it a life of its own, and making for a very cool and unique collection of music.
Mad Yonder started back in 2012, as a group of people who loved music on a campus without a thriving music culture. The result was a mismatched group of people with varying skills and talents. They began playing together in impromptu jam sessions among roommates and friends, which eventually turned into a band.
The stark diversity among the different musicians is to blame for the band’s impressively unique sound. “Mad Yonder began not with a preconceived direction but as a byproduct of the people and skills that were available,” said Mad Yonder’s lead vocalist and keyboardist Tim Short, “Our sound was as much discovered as it was cultivated.”
The original group was made up of, two rappers, a keyboardist/ vocalist, a guitarist/ vocalist, and a guitarist/ drummer. They formed “fairly organically,” Short explained. The only instrument they purposefully sought out was the violin. They were hoping to “add a whole new folk dimension to the music.”
The seemingly insane mix of instruments proves that risks are worth taking. Though Rap and violin are traditionally seen in completely opposing forms of music, this combination worked and added serious dimension and uniqueness. Adding the violin made what was previously a bunch of independent musicians playing together, into a true musical phenomenon.
“There was a specific night, after adding the violin, when everything just clicked,” Short explained, “we were all genuinely astounded by the sudden coalescence of our sound. From this seemingly incongruous group of musicians–with all of our diverse inspirations and varying levels of training–came something we instantly recognized as startlingly beautiful and worthwhile.” From there, Mad Yonder was famous among Endicott College’s small population of students and started to spread into the neighboring hub of Boston.
They continued to work together as a band as they finished their studies. However, just as starting on a college campus provides an almost immediate dedicated fan base, it is more difficult for the musicians themselves as career plans and priorities change. “College is an emotional and mercurial time in our lives, and consequently it is very difficult to maintain a common goal amidst busy schedules and shifting priorities,” Short said of the significant changes the band went through over time. “We’ve changed tremendously since we began; Keanu [Burke] and I are the only remaining members from the original group.”
Since Graduating, Burke and Short have worked hard to keep the band’s original magic while still allowing it to grow and become its own being as new musicians come in and add their own style and artistry. “The essence of Mad Yonder has proven bigger than any one person,” he said.
The band, which now features Tim Short (Piano/Vocals), Keanu Burke (MC/Rap), Drew Wesely (Guitar), Pat Pingeton (Bass), Claire Goh (Violin), and PJ Holaday (Drums), worked hard to release their debut EP “The Land Between” this past January.
“Our writing process has evolved dramatically over the past several years, and the finished EP is truly a reflection of the band’s growth and collaboration,” Short said of the finished product. Like the many musicians of Mad Yonder’s origins, the EP was a mix of different sounds, some coming from the band’s past and others written specifically for the EP. The process of choosing which songs to use, however, was relatively easy. Short said, “One of our primary challenges was fitting together all these distinct songs into one cohesive product. [A problem that was remedied] by weaving certain sonic themes throughout–things like non-isolated gang vocals, trumpet/violin/guitar harmonization, and subtle drum and pad programming.”
The setbacks and changes Mad Yonder faced proved to only make them stronger in the end. The group appropriately calls their innovative style “Folk-Hop.” They have graduated (metaphorically and literally) from “college band” to the ever growing and evolving Boston Music scene.
Boston is known for fostering an unrivaled city pride. Though it seems this unwavering support stops at sports teams and does not reciprocally extend to local bands. The problem being that people are less likely to go and check out a new band than they are in cities like New York or Los Angeles. It isn’t as big a part of the 20-something culture. Short saying that “Sports and beer bars still reign supreme here, but things are improving…It’s an exciting time to be playing music here, and we feel grateful for the opportunity to help shape a new Boston scene.”
Wherever they are, the members of Mad Yonder are just happy to be playing and accomplishing their goals. When Short started writing music at 14 he hoped to someday find a band that would help him bring his complicated songs to life, but “Mad Yonder is so much more than that–full of brilliant, passionate, hard-working, and imaginative characters, each with their own original material and vision.”