By John Benson
For well over a decade, Charlotte, N.C., band Angwish played it safe.
The trio rocked around the Southeast as weekend warriors while maintaining their day jobs. For singer-guitarist Bryan Bielanski, that meant working as a restaurant manager and feeling unfulfilled.
Then last year, Bielanski decided it was put-up-or-shut-up time for the band he formed in the mid-’90s while still in high school. He dreamed of bigger things, but not everyone shared his vision. Therefore, the trio became a duo, forcing the guitarist to now play bass notes from his guitar, albeit while still playing guitar. Considering the outfit had one less member, that meant the band’s music had to change into more of a grungy sound.
Also, if he was going to give it his all, he had to cast away his worldly chains. Now unfettered by a day job and no longer renting an apartment, Bielanski is about to find out if he made a series of bad decisions or the first step toward stardom. Angwish makes its Youngstown debut Friday at the Lemon Grove.
“We’re going on our first national tour,” Bielanski said. “Basically, reducing the band to a two-piece is what gave us the ability to tour. It’s opened some doors for the band, but it’s definitely a very big challenge to be your own bass player. In a way, it’s very liberating, but there are limitations that I can’t always pull off certain solos because I’m using like loop stations and all kinds of different effects to get the bass. But it’s playing the bass notes at the same time I’m playing the guitar notes on the same instrument. It’s cool.”
The cool motif, which was inspired by Bielanski’s favorite band, Local H, led to a change of sound for Angwish. Before, the band was more power-pop and pop-punk. Now the duo is a bit heavier, as heard on its recently released album “Rock And Roll Destroyed My Life.” While compared to the likes of Nirvana, Alice in Chains and White Zombie, the CD features songs such as the sludgy rock “The Sadist” and the Beastie Boys-sounding “Super Power.” Oh, yeah, there’s something else about the new studio effort that makes it stand out.
“So, basically, it’s a 36-minute-long song,” Bielanski said. “The whole album was recorded in one 36-minute take, but it’s divided into tracks and is just us trying to play real rock again.”
Considering Bielanski’s current situation and what’s at stake, the new CD’s album title could end up being his epitaph. Finally, one must assume his parents aren’t thrilled with the idea. They must be worried or at least concerned, right?
“I know mine aren’t or at least they’re pretending they’re not,” Bielanski said. “The whole family seems to be behind us. Even our grandma who is about to turn 90 is excited for us to be out on the road and touring and really trying to make this happen. I think we have what it takes to go all the way — otherwise I wouldn’t try.”