When they first met in 2011 at an open mic night in Columbus, Jamie Rogers and Zak Toth did not know that two years later, their relationship would become more than a musical collaboration.
“In 2013, we both ended up back in Columbus, hanging out through a mutual friend,” Rogers, the band’s vocalist and guitarist, said.
Today, they are Two Years Later, a pop-punk band from Columbus that’s just about to release its first album. The two are dating as well.
“We try to keep things separated,” Rogers said.
Both had other work related to music when they decided to couple up : Rogers had been a solo musician and singer-songwriter, whereas Toth, the duo’s drummer, had played in different groups.
“About this time last year, we started to seriously write our own songs,” Rogers said.
Now, as the duo nears the release date of its first album, the dream is to “get to a point were we can use music to support ourselves,” Toth said, which for both would mean quitting their regular 9-to-5 jobs.
The EP “Road 2 Fame,” which will have a release show Sept. 21 at Oldfield’s North Fourth Tavern, located at 1571 N. 4th St., was recorded in May and features five songs.
“The album takes the listener through a lot of phases in my life as a songwriter,” Rogers said, “From realizing that I wanted to be a songwriter, through heartbreak. It’s very emotional.”
Even though the album has a full arrangement of instruments, the band will only use vocals, guitar and drums when it performs live.
The song “Road to Nowhere,” which is on the album, is the first song Rogers ever wrote.
Toth, an Ohio State alumnus, is currently working as operations manager-in-training at Guitar Center in Columbus. Toth said simply working in the music market is a good way for young or new musicians to break into the industry.
Columbus, the duo said, is a “hotbed for music.”
“It’s really easy to network with people and find other musicians in the area,” Rogers said.
Toth, though, said breaking into the scene isn’t easy and “still takes a lot of work.”
Their music style, which they self-define as “pop-punk,” features heavy guitar riffs, fast-rhythm drumming and pop-like lyrics and melodies. A fairly low-pitched voice from Rogers adds to constant bass-drum rhythm to create a sound similar to bands Taking Back Sunday or New Found Glory, both of whom are strong inspirations for the band, among others.
“Travis Barker of Blink-182 is his idol in drumming,” Rogers said of Toth, “And one of my biggest inspirations is Hayley Williams from Paramore for her song-writing style.”
Rogers exclusively writes the songs.
“All the songs, lyrically and melodically, are my own,” Rogers said. “He brings the energy with percussion and drums. He is not allowed to write any lyrics.”
“I’m not good at all with lyrics,” Toth said.
Rogers said the two musicians have different goals in mind when it comes to writing.
“I want songs to say something, and he wants songs to sound good to people’s ears,” Rogers said.
Their punk edge is also evident in the do-it-yourself approach they take : The album was produced by the duo with engineering help from friends. The two musicians provided all necessary funds out of their pockets.
“It’s really punk when you think about it ; we have done it really all on our own,” Rogers said. “I think that punk today is still, at its core, (about) do-it-yourself and standing up against stereotypes and social norms.”
“The social norm, nowadays, has turned into a indie-hipster type of movement,” Rogers said. “When you stand up for yourself in the face of adversity — this is very punk.”
Still, Rogers admits they “are not as abrasive as true punk artists.”
This is one of the reasons that there will be no destroyed guitar anytime soon at a Two Years Later concert — the other one being that guitars are “really expensive.”
“If we ever have enough money to buy multiple guitars, maybe you’ll se a guitar destroyed on scene,” Rogers said.
“There are a lot of broken sticks and guitar strings, though,” Toth added.
This story was published in The Lantern (print and online) Thursday, September 4, 2014. "In an attempt to shine light on local music, The Lantern’s “Columbus’ Own” is a series that will profile a new Columbus band each week."