Not too long ago, in a galaxy not too far away, guitarist Kyle Jennejohn and bassist Nick Gilboe were killing time writing goofy songs and laughing beer through their noses.
"It all started a few years back," says Jennejohn. "Me and Gilboe were hanging out dinking a case of Genesee beer. I had my acoustic guitar, he had his acoustic bass. We were in a drunken stupor and we were like, 'Let's write a funny song.' The first songs we wrote were 'It's a Pirate's Life For Me' and 'Caturoy,' which is like corduroy but made for cats; cats wearing corduroy." That's as far as they expected it to go until friends caught wind of the tunes. Jennejohn was taken aback.
"We showed them to our friends," he says. "And they were like, 'Sweet, those are mad funny.'" Soon it wasn't just an outlet to guzzle beer and be a wise-ass anymore.
"After we got done writing those silly songs, our writing got a little more serious," says Gilboe. "We found ourselves with five, band-ready, legitimate songs. And we were like, 'Let's get a drummer behind all of this and see where it goes.'" Gilboe gave Dom Mangano a jingle and he was like, "'Sure, dude. Let's give it a shot.'"
The new trio got together the next day and had the songs done in a matter of hours.
"We had really good chemistry," Jennejohn says. "It was on a level we could all understand."
"It was nice and fast, edgy punk rock," says Mangano. "It came really easy for us."
And so, Envious Disguise was born.
It doesn't get much more rudimentary or straight-ahead than this trio. The output is three chords over a 4/4 beat, with humor and speed. It's smart and funny and loud and fast, kind of like a clown car with a Cessna airplane engine and glass packs. But Envious Disguise decided that it was more than three chords and a guffaw. Soon, the three musicians found themselves digging deeper. It was actually a band that sprang from punk-rock fervor, something the band considers a stepping stone or a launch pad to explore without abandoning its roots.
"It was a nice foundation to what we're doing now," Gilboe says of the original, no-frills sound. "We built up, not out. Instead of going in a different direction, we just made it better."
"We didn't want to be the stereotypical punk band where it was just short and sweet," says Jennejohn.
Envious Disguise's first gig (excepting an in-store appearance at The House of Guitars) was a house party at a joint called The Meat Grinder. The band played after a hardcore metal band and it went over huge with the crowd.
"We only had half an hour prepared and we ended up playing like an hour and a half," Jennejohn says. "The kids were really into it. 'You guys are great, you guys are sick, how long have you been playing for?' This is our first show. 'No way.' So we looked at each other and said, let's keep doing this. This is fun."
Envious Disguise banged out a demo in Mangano's attic. Gilboe describes it as "raw and gritty."
"It was good for what we needed it for, an old-school demo, just to get something out to people," Gilboe says. They wanted something that, according to Jennejohn, would change some misperceptions.
"We got tired of being compared to Green Day all the time," Jennejohn says. "So we took that sound and made it more aggressive, did more solos, added harmonies, stuff like that."
"We're doing something that's already been done," Gilboe says. "We're just bringing it back and trying to do it better."
Doing it better has been one constant in Jennejohn's songwriting equation.
"Always start with a punchy intro," he says.
If you want to hear some punchy intros, pick up Envious Disguise's EP, "Behind The Stache and Glasses," or the trio's new LP, "Blood, Sweat, and Beers" on Eat Here Records.
The band is barnstorming the region more and more, and keeps fit in the downtime with various sporting endeavors. Gilboe is in a bowling league, Mangano is a golfer, Jennejohn plays soccer, and they all skateboard and snowboard. Except Jennejohn; he can't snowboard.
"I can sled," he says, "but I can't snowboard.
Depending on who you ask — or when you ask the question — you'll get a variety of explanations of what the Sound ExChange Project really is: A local contemporary classical ensemble; a chamber group; an artist collective; composers; curators; educators; community-investors.