Andrew Perelman, Jonah Zitelli and Rutherford B. Hayes have one obvious thing in common — and no, Hayes was not Jewish, and Perelman and Zitelli were not sitting Republican presidents.
But all were Kenyon College graduates who left the abundant corn fields in search of something bigger.
Perelman and Zitelli, 24, were wrapping up their undergrad work in 2020, thinking their band Mark Twang, founded their sophomore year with some Kenyon friends, would release an album and go on tour around the country. By March that year, the duo realized the band’s hiatus would last longer than their senior year spring break.
But just as they did as freshman in college — living on the same hall with a mutual interest in early 2000s emo pop-punk music — Perelman, a New York native, and Zitelli, a Dresher native and Or Hadash bar mitzvah boy, found each other again, rebuilding the band in West Philadelphia, finishing their first album and planning a return to Kenyon for a show later this month.
The band’s first full album, “Companion,” is out April 15 on Bandcamp, Spotify and Apple Music.
What does post-country mean?
Jonah Zitelli: It’s like a tongue-in-cheek thing I made up when we were in college. I guess once we started playing more seriously in college, that’s where I was coming at it from, kind of like a hokey, Americana angle.
Andrew Perelman: The post-country thing is honestly a tongue-in-cheek joke. But also we like to really play up the “Twang”.
How has your music evolved since forming the band in 2017?
AP: It used to be a lot less mellow. We’ve learned how to kind of reign in our dynamics instead of just having one gear, which is, like, as fast as possible.
I always try to write songs that’ll stay relatable to yourself as time goes on. So I still enjoy playing everything, but most of the songs we’re playing now are from the record that’s gonna come out.
Where did you draw inspiration from for the new record?
JZ: A lot of songs that I wrote for the record, even those songs, are 2 years old now. And thinking back on inspiration for them, I wrote a couple of them after the pandemic started. I was kind of stuck; I was still in college; I ended up getting stuck at my aunt’s house in the suburbs.
My parents were not in town, so I couldn’t go back to their house. It was just kind of quiet. And I had nothing much else to do. And I had never really sang before on track, so I was like, well, I’m gonna sit here and try to write words.
AP: A lot of the lyrics are very retrospective on my life. A lot of it was written during Kenyon; a lot of it was written during that period of time after we left Kenyon. I was living at home with my parents, and I was definitely reflecting on my life up until that point so far.
As kids, did you imagine yourselves in a band?
JZ: Absolutely, we fantasized about that. I grew up playing the trumpet and then switched to guitar because I didn’t think trumpet was cool enough — big mistake.
I grew up listening to a lot of pop-punk music and I just imagined myself playing super-cathartic music on stage for a bunch of people. I was very much imagining something high-energy and, l guess, emotional. That’s what I would have wanted in my preteen, early teenage years.
AP: My siblings and I used to perform for our parents when we were little toddlers. We just lip synced to songs and set up light shows and just put on performances. I always loved performance. I think it’s so much fun, and I’ve always been, I guess, looking for that. I’ve been playing in bands since I was 13 with my friends, but it used to be
What’s the most embarrassing thing to happen during a set?
JZ: We played at a bar in Pittsburgh, which was a smokers-only bar. But they didn’t like us very much. There was no one really there to see us. It was just like a bar full of people who just happened to be there. We just didn’t really fit the bill. And then it was just kind of an awkward situation for everyone involved.
AP: I had a great time. I remember really enjoying that. I had a good time, but the people there were not happy that we were playing.
JZ: Do you have a different most embarrassing Mark Twang moment?
AP: Most embarrassing? No, my pants have never fallen down.
I don’t know how embarrassed I get because it’s already hyper-embarrassing, to be honest. Like you’re there, you’re just creating this optimistic, energetic person that’s gonna dance around for 30 minutes and make everyone want to watch what’s going on. You’re already putting yourself out there.