Some music is meant to be universal. While it’s common in our scene to get bogged down in subgenres and “cores”, sometimes one needs to make space in their musical catalog to connect to a higher truth than that. Music such as this knows no genre, no subgenre, and ultimately, no scene. It isn’t concerned with Spotify algorithms and it doesn’t care what box it fits in.
Enter hALF wHEEL. The band takes it’s name from the term describing when two bicycles are dangerously close enough together that the front and rear wheels of each respective bike appear to eclipse half of one another. It came about when it’s creator, Jazz Byers, decided to travelled cross country on a bike and documented it with the film, “Bicycling The Southern Tier”. Being a more-than-capable musician, he decided to score the project himself, and asked his good friend Sean Nestor to come help him fill in the blanks.
Then on the flipside, there’s music that’s meant to be a little darker, a little stranger, a little alien, maybe even a little bit distressing. Enter Homicide Black, an homage to doom metal greats like Dio and Black Sabbath.
Like your rock hard, but not quite as dark? Give SiLK9 a shot. What do they all have in common? They all feature the creative chemistry, in one way or another, of the same two men.
Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jazz Byers and Sean Nestor are in no shortage of creative outlets. hALF wHEEL’s newest EP, “Believe” (dropping August 2nd) is a blend of classic rock, folk, blues, and maybe a HINT of country if you really dig, but ultimately what the EP boasts are short, memorable, hooky and universal songs that tug at the soul. Despite what kind of music you hail from or adhere to, there is much to enjoy here. In fact, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, as these gentlemen play together in no less than three bands of three distinct flavors.
hALF wHEEL just spent the weekend earning goodness knows how many new fans at the Blame My Roots Festival alongside country names such as Miranda Lambert and Neil McCoy among others and while Jazz admitted to wondering how they got on a strictly country bill, he and Sean couldn’t turn such an opportunity for exposure down. Explaining that each band they play in dictates a certain vibe with certain personas, attitudes and aesthetics, vocalist Sean Nestor adds that 99.9% of the lyrics are written by Jazz and gives him an opportunity to exercise different vocal approaches. Jazz also writes all the music.
His duties vary a bit in the other two projects. While Sean is the vocalist for all three, Jazz hops from bass in Silk9, to drums in Homicide Black, to being the captain of the ship in hALF wHEEL. As if that weren’t enough, he owns and runs production company Rattle Clack Productions. In addition to putting out all the music he creates along with Sean, he also oversees events as diverse as rock concerts to business meetings, supplying lighting and sound equipment.
Entrepreneur? Renaissance Man? Jazz seems to shrug it off and say, “We’re having a blast!”
One listen to any of these three bands makes that abundantly clear.
Jazz Byers is the kind of creative that redefines what it means to be not only a professional in this industry, but more importantly what it means to be an artist. One of the most enjoyable parts of my conversation with him was our positing over the notion of what it means to “make it”. “Having a blast” and being able to make a living doing so (which Jazz has done for some time) seem to be pretty hard-to-beat circumstances. Filling out Madison Square Garden? Probably not. Moreover, who really cares? The man has turned his life into an adventure and the bi-product of that is the excellent, engaging, and highly personal art he shares. Lives such as these touch many other ones. I for one, after hearing the new hALF wHEEL EP and then turning around and listening to Homicide Black can’t wait to hear what the man comes up with next.
“Believe” drops on all major streaming platforms August 2nd.