Since Earwig debuted with an EP recorded in a garage in 1992, the indie rock band has seen the kind of lineup changes expected of a 26-year-old act. The one constant has been bandleader and guitarist Lizard McGee, whose garage served as their first recording studio.
Earwig became a family band when McGee’s daughter, James McGee-Moore, joined on vocals and keys as they completed their most recent album, Pause for the Jets (2016). Bassist Constantine Hondroulis and drummer Jeremy Skeen complete the current lineup.
We caught up with the members of Earwig following their Broad & High Presents performance – featuring two new tracks – to learn more about the Columbus music scene staple.
Meet the Musicians
Fave local acts: Ugly Stick, Saintseneca, Scrawl
Influences: “The (band’s) sound has just morphed in an organic way from the same influences I’ve always had, ranging from Prince to, you know, R.E.M. and the various influences that everybody brings to the band. And we sort of just jell that into what the sound is.”
Fave local venue: Ace of Cups
Fave local act: “I grew up listening to Preston Furman, and they have a special place in my heart.”
Influences: “I’m really into, like, Prince and David Bowie, of course, because they had the whole stage presence thing down to an art. I’m really heavily influenced by Laurie Anderson – it’s one of the things that made me want to be able to play keyboard and sing at the same time and dress weird and do different kind of stuff.”
From: New Orleans
Fave local acts: Twenty One Pilots
Fave local venues: Rumba Cafe, Skully’s
Influences: “I grew up on, like, goth music and ’80s music, and I still enjoy that kind of music. But I guess from a bass player point of view … Led Zeppelin guy – John Paul Jones – the dude from Barkmarket is awesome. Shriekback is great. I also like heavy metal and industrial music and all that stuff, too.”
Fave local act: Saintseneca
Influences: “I kind of grew up just listening to a lot of ’90s grunge music. But in terms of my playing style, I’ve always tried to be a mix of Ringo Starr and Mitch Mitchell.”
Fill in the Blank
If you like ___, you’ll like Earwig.
Lizard: Doughnuts. That just means everyone should like Earwig.
When I’m not performing, I’m ___.
James: Daydreaming about actually sleeping.
Lizard: James works a ton, so that’s a good answer. I think Jeremy’s actually always playing.
Jeremy: Pretty much.
Lizard: If I was Jeremy, I’d be like, “When I’m not playing, I’m at CubeSmart playing my drums.”
Lizard: When I’m not playing, I’m answering questions in other people’s voices.
___ is Central Ohio’s best hidden gem.
James: I mean, COSI, but it’s not hidden.
Constantine: I like the Franklin Park Conservatory.
James: I just went to the (Ohio) Glass Museum in Lancaster. It was only $4 to get in, and it was awesome. They told me all about glass and all the different companies in Ohio that made glass. They had, like, glass molds, and it was cool – totally worth $4.
The best food in Central Ohio is ___?
Lizard: I love Loving Hut in Reynoldsburg. It’s a great vegan restaurant – I’m vegan. Last night, for the first time, I had the Impossible (Burger) vegan sliders at White Castle. And I can’t wait to go back there today because it was so good. So that’s my, like, wildcard entry, is the vegan slider at White Castle. It was really good.
Jeremy: My favorite place is Tasi (Cafe). It’s just a breakfast-brunch place. It’s amazing. It’s in the Short North.
Lizard: Oh, I like Angry Baker, too.
Pineapple on pizza is ___.
James: Good if you like pineapple, but I don’t.
On the Origin Story
Lizard: When we were looking for a name for the band, I’d heard about a trick that R.E.M. – how they picked their name. The idea is, you use an old dictionary as an oracle.
So I have a dictionary that belonged to my grandmother. It’s very old, very thick, and we kept it in the basement. So we went down to the basement (in 1992) and you just, like, pop it open to a random page and put your finger on a word. And there you have picked the name for the band.
We opened it up and put our finger in the middle of the dictionary, and I think it was “rowboat” or “turtle” or something weird. And we didn’t like it. But there were a bunch of earwigs in the dictionary because it had been stored in the basement.
So we decided that would be the name because of the dictionary. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I still have that dictionary. And we recorded a cassette in my garage and began releasing our own music.