Drown It Out : A Talk With Ohio’s Penny Wishes

Penny Wishes are a three-piece indie/alternative rock band out of Lima, Ohio. They’re a band fronted by bassist/singer Siera Lynn, with Nolan Klock on guitar and Jesse Martin on drums. The music these three create is thick with urgency and buzzing guitar jangle. Listening to their full-length self-titled debut from last year I’m reminded of bands like Throwing Muses, Dinosaur Jr, The Breeders, and Bikini Kill. Lynn’s vocals have a real presence and power, while musically Penny Wishes keeps the tradition of fellow Ohio rock royalty like Guided By Voices, Breeders, and Enon alive and well. There’s a post-punk vibe, and even bits of art rock that permeate the sound of Penny Wishes.

On July 3rd Penny Wishes are hitting the stage at the Brass Rail to play a show, along with Athens, Ohio’s Water Witches and Fort Wayne’s Heaven’s Gateway Drugs. I recently spoke with Siera and Nolan about Penny Wishes and how they got together, influences, and their songwriting process. Dig in.

J. Hubner: So tell me how Penny Wishes got together?

Siera Lynn: Nolan and I started playing together in his project Chiroptera and after that project fizzled we just kept going, but this time with the songs I was writing and singing and Nolan on guitar. Jesse joined the group after we met at The Apple Store. He sold me an iMac and then through a casual conversation he said he was a drummer and I invited him up to jam with us. It all worked out pretty seamlessly.

J. Hubner: What other projects have you all been involved in prior to Penny Wishes?

Siera Lynn: Nolan has been in multiple projects mostly out of Athens including Weird Science, Pegasister, Superhiway, The 65s, and even a Devo cover band called Infinite Zero with Water Witches’ drummer, Charlie Touvell. Penny Wishes is Jesse’s first band he has been in that has played any shows. I have been playing shows across the state mostly solo a few years before Chiroptera and Penny Wishes.

J. Hubner: Who or what are some influences on the band’s sound? 

Siera Lynn: I think we are all influenced by pretty different artists. I grew up listening to what the adults around me listened to – Reba McEntire, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Ella Fitzgerald. I started taking formal vocal lessons around 12 and was belting show tunes along with all spectrums of rock. When I stopped studying voice in college I started playing out on my own with my guitar. I love mostly all Rock n Roll – Talking Heads, The Cure, Blondie, Sleater Kinney, Screaming Females, Bikini Kill… so many.

Nolan Klock: The guitar lines that I write come from less of a direct influence I think, but more of just my general style which I’ve forged over the years which has itself been influenced by so many different artists.  I would like to think that there are touches of Black Flag, surf rock, and various post-punk or art rock bands in my style.

J. Hubner: What’s the songwriting process like in the band? 

Siera Lynn:  I write a bass line and then bring it to the guys. Sometimes I have lyrics or a vocal melody, but most of the time I just have a riff I really like and then we take it and all go on writing our respective parts and collaborating on the song structure.

J. Hubner: There’s an amazing music history that comes with Ohio, including The Breeders, Devo, Pere Ubu and Guided By Voices just to name a few hailing from the Buckeye State. Who are some Ohio artists the band connects with? 

Siera Lynn: Well, you named them! I would add Shesus and Enon. Those two and The Breeders are big for me, as well as a lot of our friends and peers like Water Witches.

Nolan Klock: Devo and GBV have always been huge influences for me along with Brainiac/Enon.

J. Hubner: Tell me a little bit about your self-titled debut from last year. How long was the process of writing and recording the album?

Nolan Klock: The writing process was essentially Siera taking songs she wrote over a year or so and once the band formed hammering them out from there.  Once we had enough songs and had been playing them out for a while, we decided it was time to record.  We recorded with our friend Chris Lute in Columbus who is in an awesome band as well (DANA).  We did live takes on reel to reel first and from there did vocal and guitar overdubs digitally.  That was all done within one weekend.

J. Hubner: On July 3rd Penny Wishes are playing a show in Fort Wayne, IN at the Brass Rail. You’ll be sharing the stage with Heaven’s Gateway Drugs and Water Witches. How did this show come together? 

Nolan Klock: We reached out to our friends in Water Witches about doing some shows over the summer and they invited us to play this show along with another that was already booked at Casa Nueva in Athens for July 6th.  We haven’t played with Heaven’s Gateway Drugs yet, but have many friends who have and we are very much looking forward to that.

J. Hubner: Is this your first time playing in Fort Wayne?

Nolan Klock: This is Penny Wishes first time to Ft. Wayne.  I myself played Calhoun Street some years ago with Weird Science on a tour we did.  In fact, we played with Streetlamps for Spotlights who share a member in Jason with Heaven’s Gateway Drugs.  We are excited to play The Brass Rail as friends’ bands have told us how great it is.

J. Hubner: What can folks expect when Penny Wishes hits the stage?

Siera Lynn: A good time.

J. Hubner: Is the band working on a new album? What can we expect from a new Penny Wishes long player?

Siera Lynn: You will definitely hear some new songs at the show and we are planning on getting in the studio again very, very soon.

Check out Penny Wishes Wednesday July 3rd at the Brass Rail, along with Heaven’s Gateway Drugs and Water Witches. Grab a copy of their 2018 self-titled album here

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