A Conversation with Crowns

Written by Austin Schumacher; Media by Michael Trieb.

Although I enjoy the music scene, having grown up somewhat of a musician, many times, my dedication to other things on campus has prevented me from being too involved, much to my chagrin.  However, I had heard the name of Crowns tossed around campus quite a bit.  Though I didn’t know too much about them, when they released an EP as well as qualified to play at AgapeFest through the Battle of the Bands contest, I figured it was about time to really get an idea of who these guys were and why they were so awesome.

From left: Chismar, Allen, Niebuhr, Hall, Hopwood, Stakes
Photo via facebook.com/Joe Kam Photography

Crowns, which consists of Billy Niebuhr (Vocals/Guitar/Percussion), Nate Hopwood (Guitar), Dave Hall (Guitar), Sam Allen (Rhodes/Keys/Tambourine), Ryan Stakes (Bass), & Adam Chismar (Drums) describes their beginnings as six guys who started writing music.  They enjoy the chemistry of the band and love what they do.  The band itself was first conceived by Sam and Ryan in the spring semester of 2012.  Sam had a Rhodes keyboard, and once Ryan found out, he decided that they should start a band.  Yes, the decision to create this great work of art was started because someone had a keyboard.  They got together and started working over the summer and about two months into the semester, they found another member, who was added in what seems to be an equally whimsical manner.  His introduction to the band was somewhat as follows:  “You sing and play guitar?  You should be in my band.”  Adding Billy’s roommate, Adam, as a drummer followed as well as two other members, and so, the sextet made up of three sophomores and three juniors began.

Self-classified as “post indie-rock,” Crowns has a rather interesting sound.  They began tracking their EP in Rob Shollenberger’s basement.  Recorded in either tracking rooms in the basement of Whitlock or in Shollenberger’s basement, the project was started because Shollenberger needed to record tracks for a project and Crowns wanted to have some songs recorded.  Having recorded a couple of demos themselves, Crowns knew going into the studio that they wanted to release this as an EP.  The EP, entitled Blind Hands, was released on March 1st and is available online for free at noisetrade.com or a physical copy can be purchased for $3.  Crowns is certainly appreciative about the exposure and is currently working towards a full-length album that has a little more thought and polish put into it.  Concerning the EP, members of the band said that they “…just kinda did it,” saying that it was a bit of a rushed process.  For the full-length album, however, they’re hoping to record in Nashville.

When discussing the recent Battle of the Bands competition, Crowns laughed, sharing that part of the reason they tried was because “we didn’t want to pay.”  By getting into the festival through the competition, the price is only ⅓ of the original cost.  Still, their attitude going into the competition was pretty casual.  Not knowing what the judges were looking for sound-wise, they were rather skeptical of their chances wondering if the judges would “Pick one of the pop bands or the weird post indie-rock.”  However, their talent came through in the clutch, and they now have a slot to play at AgapeFest on Saturday, May 4th.

Looking towards the future of Crowns as a band, they hope to increase their radius of show locations.  As it currently stands, they simply load up whatever cars they have and haul their gear from place to place.  They have enjoyed playing shows, despite the fact that their sound is usually different from those they play with, and they have been well received by audiences. They commented that “people will enjoy watching it if you enjoy playing, and we sure enjoy playing it.”  The members laugh as one mentions, “We all stomp on the ground so hard.  I don’t know why.”  Crowns does have an upcoming show here on Greenville campus at LaDue on the 27th, and they appreciate any feedback or donations that people can give.  “Anything we can use or sell,” they say.  “…..shoes?”

Click here to download Crowns’ EP “Blind Hands!”


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