On numerous weekends throughout the semester, the sounds of booming bass and high-pitched singing have shaken the North Campus Apartments (NCAs). The music interrupts the disturbingly quiet ambience of Kenyon’s campus at least once a week. But by now, everyone knows exactly what these sounds are: Kenyon’s only active on-campus band, Mount Vermin.
After nearly six months of separation, Mount Vermin members Jenny Janzten ’23, Sophie Wise ’23 and Sarah Tomasi ’23 have finally been able to gather in the living room of their NCA. After repeated attempts at virtual rehearsals during the spring, the band decided not to practice until they could rock together in person with amplifiers and microphones.
Due to the pandemic, the group was unable to develop new music in person, so the band members worked independently on lyrics and chords. Tomasi says the silver lining of the band’s division is that “we kind of can just write music and develop our own thing.” As a result, their new song incorporates the band members’ solo work and their collaborative efforts.
Each member lugged their instruments from their respective states to Gambier, Jantzen recalled driving 11 hours from New Jersey with her drums in the trunk, noting that it was worth the trouble. “If I don’t have drums, then we’re not a whole band,” said Jantzen.
With the addition of Tomasi and Wise’s bass guitars and technical equipment, the band has created an informal yet functional practice space in their common room. “It’s kind of easier to practice, because if we want to practice then it’s just like ‘Hey! Come in the living room!’” Tomasi said.
While the band has typically rehearsed in the Horn Gallery practice room, they’ve come to love their personalized space and the clean mics that come with it. The instruments double as decorative furniture, Jantzen said. “We’re lucky to live in an NCA because they’re especially large, so it doesn’t feel like it takes up the entire room,” she added.
The at-home practices have now become an essential part of Mount Vermin’s reputation. People often peek into the rehearsals because the curtains are always open in the apartment. “It still feels like we kind of have an audience,” Wise said. The band has not received any complaints from their neighbors, but have gotten “comments” about the ruckus, according to Tomasi, who suggested putting a box of earplugs outside the door out of courtesy for the students nearby.
The one-year anniversary of the sophomore girl group is quickly approaching. The Mount Vermin members met almost immediately after coming to campus as first years in Norton Residence Hall. In late October of 2019, the bandmates agreed that they should make a rock band together. Mount Vermin made its debut on Nov. 16, 2019, at the Sisterhood Open Mic, barely a month after the group’s formation.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group’s presence on campus was cut short last spring. Making up for lost time, their unintentional NCA performances have revived Mount Vermin’s name at Kenyon. Hopefully, the humorous title and pounding percussion will reach the ears of first-year students.
The band does expect to regain a hint of normalcy soon; the Brown Family Environmental Center is planning to host a concert close to Halloween, at which they are planning to perform. There, the band hopes to showcase their new songs.