Writing, singing and playing about what you know is the mantra of this metamorphosed band of college buddies. Chris and Joe Quinlain, along with drummer Erik Bogdonas and bassist Justin Routh have been playing together for over a decade now since their start at Illinois State University. As the “party-boys next door,” they eventually grew into a full-fledged rock group that recently released a sixth studio album, Say It Now.
“We started our actual band in 1997 playing cover songs for frat parties,” said Joe Quinlain, guitarist for Bottle of Justus (BoJ). “We all [liked] to have a good time during and after shows.”
The band has concocted a mixture of modern and acoustic rock with soulful guiars and sweetly haunting vocals. Remnants of true stories are also etched into the lyrics of BoJ’s ballad-esque songs.
“Angels Fall” is basically a song about a collection of different losses that I’ve had in the last couple of years, one being my grandma because she influenced the song quite a bit, as well as a girlfriend I lost a few years ago,” Quinlain said. “It’s simply about losing someone, and hoping and wondering if it’s going to be alright.”
The men of Bottle of Justus may have outgrown the collegiate book bags and class schedules, but their passion for experimentation is still kicking. Repetition does not fit into their style, so they’ve made a mindset out of their enigmatic musical ways:
“We’re inspired by everything,” Quinlain said. “What sets us apart is that nothing sets us apart. Our sound is always changing because we’re really still unclassified. We aren’t emo or soft rock — I don’t think we really fit into any particular genre.”
Musical ambiguity has fueled the boys forward since their beginning at ISU, but the importance of musicial role models and the sounds of a generation has also had an impact. “A lot of bands are coming out now similar to Fall Out Boy; so many bands like that sound pretty much the same,” drummer Bogdonas said. “It’s always good to hear new music and different styles.”
Don’t miss Bottle of Justus tomorrow, Feb. 8 at the Highdive. Tickets are $7, and doors open at 7 p.m. The Dot and Feather and Shock Stars will open.