what's happening with smallboats

An Interview With Local-To-Columbus Project smallboats

Smallboats, properly stylized as smallboats, is a Columbus-area based indie-pop group excited to hit the ground running with their first live shows ever. They have two publicly released singles, Coffee Shop Blues and Graffiti. Both of these songs are the definition of ear-candy indie-pop. The band is made up of four obviously enthusiastic teenagers: Zander, Reagan, Ryan, and Allison.  

Tell me about yourselves. Who are you? What do you want the world to know about smallboats?

Zander:smallboats is a band that has been around for 4 years and 4 minutes. It started as a project between me and my cousin. The lineup we have now existed as of two months ago, and it’s been truly incredible… it’s so fun to enter this together, as a 4 piece band, and tackle our first ever shows.”

How did you guys meet? When did you decide to start playing music together?

Zander: “Ryan and I met sometime in elementary school. We were probably like, 10. It wasn’t until 2018 that I kinda started diving into music. I was inspired by bands like twenty one pilots, Paramore definitely… Ryan, at the same time, had picked up guitar. I was the drummer, and Ryan was the guitarist, and we were on a never-ending quest to find a lead singer… Fast forward to 2022, and that’s me now.”

Reagan: “I have been around for like a year now, just kinda poking in and helping out… Everytime that we’d hang out, it always came back to smallboats… One day, I asked, when smallboats were going on tour, I asked ‘Hey, do you just want me to be in the band?’”

Zander: “Allison is a completely different story. We were in this crunch for a drummer. We found out we were going on tour with Arbor, and the guy we had going on tour for us ghosted us… One night, at like, midnight, I was scrolling on my Instagram page, and Allison’s Instagram account for her drum covers showed up on my for you page… I reached out to Allison, and I remember, when she said she was down, I texted Reagan, and he asked if I was sure this time… When we first met Allison, it was clear that she was talented and driven, and, most importantly, funny.”

Does the name “smallboats” have any significance?

Zander: “It does. It does. It was March 2018. I was 13 years old, I think. I got a text from my cousin Parker, whom I love dearly, and he said ‘Hey, let’s make music.’ We outlined what our goals were, and I had this idea for the band name ‘smallboats.’ It reminded me of this little thing, with such a daunting journey ahead of it. I imagine a bunch of people packed onto this little boat with big dreams and big goals, and a lot of things weighing this boat down, but despite all of that, the boat still has places to be and it still has to make that happen. To me, smallboats is just kind of a reminder to keep going.”

Where do you draw inspiration from? 

Reagan: “Zander and Allison listen to the same music. Zander and I have a lot of overlap. Ryan is the complete opposite…”

Zander: “When we write music, it’s almost like pulling different flowers from the same country. On a wider scale, everything comes from the same pocket, but, when you really zoom in, they come from different backgrounds and grow in different conditions. When we write, it’s like this bouquet.” 

Do you think that the pandemic has made it easier or harder for local start-up bands like yourselves to gain a listening?

Reagan: “In live performing, it has butchered it. So many bands will come up, and be ready to play a show, and the day of, their whole band tests positive. In the live performance area, it’s definitely hurt it. I think people are getting out more to see live shows now. In terms of streaming, I know me and Zander have found a new band every week.”

Zander: “It’s hard to play local shows during a pandemic, but it only fueled people’s ‘want.’… For us at least, I”ve written entire EPs and albums that will never see the light of day since April of 2020. Obviously, we were a very different band at the time. I would say that, in our case, having all that extra time inside, makes that first show even more special. We’re gonna do our best and really put our souls into these shows.”

What are you most excited for for your first time opening on a tour?

Ryan: “The fact that we get to go out somewhere, do something we love, and have fun while doing it.”

Reagan: “Three of us are local to Columbus. For us, its our home show. To be able to show my friends and family what we’ve been working on and compiling for a couple of months, and to have this opportunity.”

Allison: “Being able to actually show friends and family, and even people who don’t know us, what we’ve been practicing for the last like month and a half.”

Zander: “I’m so excited to go to my first Arbor show. I’m excited to visit these venues that I’ve seen shows at. I can’t wait for more. I feel like this tour is gonna be great. It’s a culmination of what we’ve achieved as a group.”

smallboats plays their first live shows ever  as the supporting act for Arbor in the coming weeks. Catch them on May 29th at The Foundry in Lakewood, May 31st at the Big Room Bar in Columbus, and June 3rd at the Legends Bar in Cincinnati. Stream “Graffiti” here!

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Aiden Rodgers