Tune in to the latest episode of Sound Source to learn how five high school friends started a band that has over 17,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Corn on My Dinner Plate is about love, heartbreak, their songwriting process, and the meaning of their band’s name.
COLIN KOLASNY: I think people react to vulnerability. When you let someone see that you are struggling or doing well, you are simply letting someone see what you really are. I think people like that.
[MUSIC Move Along]
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: From the Daily Northwestern, I’m Daniella Tello-Garzon. You’re listening to Sound Source, a podcast tuning in to music on and around campus. The song you hear is called “Move Along”, from Corn on My Dinner Plate.
CHRIS SANCHEZ: My name is Chris Sánchez, I’m the drummer for Corn.
COLIN KOLASNY: My name is Colin Kolasny and I am the keyboardist and songwriter of the band.
[MUSIC Move Along continues]
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Corn on My Dinner Plate is a Chicago-based indie band that started with a group of five high school friends who just wanted to play music together. Besides Chris and Colin, the band also consists of bassist Roan Quinn, keyboardist Branden Ma, tenor saxophonist Weber Anderson and guitarist Jack Harris. Back in high school, the band didn’t take things too seriously, hence the band’s silly name, Corn on My Dinner Plate. The name began with a picture of corn on a plate that a former singer and songwriter of the band sent in their group chat. Years later, the band’s humor has remained the same, but their craft has evolved.
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Corn on My Dinner Plate is a very close group, and they thrive on being together. But the journey to becoming the close friends they are today has been a long one.
COLIN KOLASNY: Our first gig was at our friend Delaney’s birthday party, her 18th high school birthday party. And it was at a friend’s house who was known to throw these crazy parties with live music and live DJs. And so that was our first performance as a band.
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Colin Kolasny is one of the original members of the group. Now, years after their first performance, some of the original members have left, and there have been new additions as well. A newcomer was Chris Sánchez, who replaced Jeremy Adams as the band’s drummer.
COLIN KOLASNY: The band’s original drummer, Jeremy, started to focus and make great strides in his physics and fusion studies, and it really started to take a lot of his time. And I felt like I really wanted to take this in a really serious direction. I really wanted to meet other musicians ready to dedicate their career to this. But yeah, by then he was going to be gone for the summer and we were just like, well, we need a drummer. And Roan introduced us to Chris.
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: After Chris joined the band, Colin’s friend from St. Olaf College, Weber Anderson, accidentally joined Corn on My Dinner Plate as a saxophonist.
COLIN KOLASNY: I met Weber in college and he was part of my college Ointment Appointment group. And then he kind of joined Corn on My Dinner Plate as well, so he’s in both bands. There came a time when Weber was, I think, like, “Hey, am I in this band?” And I’m like, “Yeah sure, what are you talking about? We played together, didn’t we?
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Chris and Weber’s first live performance with Corn on My Dinner Plate was two years ago at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. To this day, Chris cherishes the memory of that performance.
CHRIS SANCHEZ: There are many beautiful musicians there. And it was really good to see everyone there and meet a lot of different people. We really bonded musically on that stage.
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: The song you’re listening to right now is called Filibuster, and it’s from Corn on My Dinner Plate’s debut EP, “Ears,” which they released in 2017.
[MUSIC Filibuster continues]
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Colin wrote the song about his first love.
COLIN KOLASNY: I wrote the song when I kind of felt in love for the first time in high school. And it’s just such a warm feeling, to have that, but I felt, you know, at the same time, kind of an anxiety about its fleeting nature, like it wasn’t going to last forever. And I knew it. This feeling was giving me all this conflicting energy in my body.
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: As Joey Bada$$ would say, “Love is just a feeling.” But it’s a feeling that many of us can relate to, and the raw vulnerability of expressing that feeling, and expressing feelings in general, is something that Colin says draws listeners to his music. .
COLIN KOLASNY: Well, I write a lot about love. And I think what I try to do is when I feel stuck emotionally, or like there’s not really any light that I can see, I try to put that feeling into words, in poetry, music, sound and art in general. But what really feels good to me after writing a lyric is that I’ve taken an emotion in my head and given it a shape, so that I can then have something to look at and freeze that feeling in the weather. And then it’s real.
[MUSIC She’s Fine]
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Beyond the lyrics, Corn on My Dinner Plate has a very personal writing process. Distance and the pandemic have resulted in a lot of remote rehearsals, but Chris, the band’s drummer, said being together in person is key to making great music.
CHRIS SANCHEZ: When everyone’s there, we really enjoy that time and we really sit down and have fun while we’re there too, because that helps the music become what it is.
COLIN KOLASNY: When we all share a space together and we’re together in a place where we can really let our music grow organically, that’s when songwriting really feels collaborative.
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: One song that took shape with an in-person collaboration is “Arizona,” which is the song you’re hearing right now. The six band members worked together and recorded “Arizona” as a group at JoyRide Studio.
CHRIS SANCHEZ: I built the rhythm of this song. It’s a really weird track because it doesn’t sound like anything you’d hear on any other Corn track. It was much more progressive. It’s fusion. But there are also rock elements. And like pop-ish groove. I also did some auxiliary percussion on that, which really added to that. Like congas and bongos and tambourines and shakers.
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: How did you find it?
CHRIS SANCHEZ: I played a lot of what Colin was playing in rhythm. He plays a lot more upbeat music. And in my mind, I went straight to Herbie Hancock, Billy Cobham. Billy Cobham is a drummer that I love, I took a big influence on him.
COLIN KOLASNY: Oh yes! I remember Roan also creating his baseline, which is like boo-da-doom (sounds on the baseline). I think that baseline rhythmically sent me into an idea and then rhythmically sent Chris into this kind of straight groove as well.
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Instruments in the song include electric piano, electric guitar, electric bass, drums, tenor saxophone, two voices, congas, bongos, shakers and tambourines. In addition to the instrumentals, the song also needed lyrics, which Colin wrote.
COLIN KOLASNY: I thought a lot about the fluidity of things in life. You know, things tend to keep moving and flowing from one thing to another. And this is the space I had just written about it. And then also, I felt a lot of pessimism or cynicism about the state of the world too. But alas, things keep flying.
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: What is a specific lyric that you prefer?
COLIN KOLASNY: My favorite lyric in the song is, “If you come back without a key, I won’t sleep.” And so I guess I’m just trying to comfort whoever I’m singing to, whoever the listener is, to say that, you know, I’m here for you. You can come. And even if you don’t have a key to unlock the door, I will be awake to open it for you.
[MUSIC Mi Alma Puede]
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Today, Corn on My Dinner Plate said they are working harder than ever, and in five years they hope to play Lollapalooza or Dillo Day at Northwestern. What you hear now is their latest release, a song called “Mi Alma Puede”. You can watch the Musical clip for “Mi Alma Puede” on the Corn on My Dinner Plate YouTube channel.
[MUSIC Mi Alma Puede continues]
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: From the Daily Northwestern, I’m Daniella Tello-Garzon. Thanks for listening to another episode of Sound Source. You can find Corn on My Dinner Plate on most music streaming platforms such as SoundCloud, Spotify and Apple Music. You can also follow the band on Instagram and Facebook using @cornonmydinnerplate to stay informed about upcoming live shows and merchandise sales. This episode was reported and produced by me, Daniella Tello-Garzon. The Daily’s Audio Editor is Will Clark, Digital Editor is Jordan Mangi and Managing Editor is Isabelle Sarraf. Be sure to subscribe to The Daily Northwestern podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud to hear more episodes like this.
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