The George Elliot Underground
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The George Elliot Underground

Columbus, Ohio, United States

Columbus, Ohio, United States
Band Rock Alternative


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Brand New Punks: The George Elliott Underground’s modern take on classic rock"

The boys in the local outfit George Elliot Underground talk smack, play wrestling video games on autopilot and refer to each other with such terms of endearment as “this fine piece of meat over here.” If you’ve ever seen the band members out around town – and there’s a good chance these scene-devouring troubadours have made themselves known to you at one live music venue or another – it doesn’t take much imagination to deduce what they sound like when they pick up their instruments.

Simply put, if no one else in this damn town is going to make sweaty, boisterous pub rawk with a smart pop twist, then, by God, the George Elliot Underground has taken up the task. They even dreamed up their own genre: Swampternative.

“We’re still kind of adventuring with our sound,” explained guitarist Marlin Kornegay. The five-piece is rounded out by singer Matt Zaborniak, drummer Brian Mayes, guitarist Jeremy Browning and Derek Ultican on bass.

The band formed in 2005 from two other abandoned projects that had shared bills and forged friendships. All the members possessed a love for the mainstream rock sounds jumpstarted by The Strokes and The Hives, in addition to the sexy, classic cool of the likes of The MC5 and T. Rex.

“We pretty much just cut out the worst parts of each band,” joked Zaborniak. It’s this kind of carefree, self-deprecating attitude that peppers a typically hilarious conversation with the band, as well as their playful garage bangers.

The 14-song CD that the George Elliot Underground gives away for free at shows may seem scattershot, consisting of recordings from three separate studios in Columbus, but it serves as a fitting display of the band’s broad influences.

Cuts like “Attack of the Lightningbird pt. 11,” which shares its whiskey-blooded DNA with Motorhead, and the Irish drinking song revelry of “Thee O’Malleys” are flat-out fun. However, it’s the spacious brit-pop anthem “On Top” and its arena-ready cousin “Love in the Morning” that could usher the George Elliot Underground into the limelight outside of the outer belt.

“There isn’t one main songwriter in the band, which is probably why we’ve lasted,” said Mayes. “Everyone has their own ideas to bring to the table.”

The back-alley tunefulness of “Man You Need” reveals their knack for giving a would-be love song a dirty leather jacket makeover, and the cooler-than-cool fuzz bass on “Mississippi Adultery” makes the track sound like a long-lost ’70s road-dog classic. Not to mention the album’s other awesome song titles, such as “Holy Mammoth” and “Welcome to Battlethorne Castle.”

“Yeah . . . we’re more interested in song titles,” Kornegay confirmed.

Compared to the George Elliot Underground, most bands look like they take themselves too seriously. These five lads seek to keep it loose and fun at all times, whether performing or supporting other Columbus bands.

“We’re the biggest fans of the Columbus music scene,” said Ultican. “On any given night, you might see us out.”

Unfortunately, the band’s momentum will be stunted when Zaborniak, who serves in the Air National Guard, ships off for deployment to Bagram Airforce Base in Afghanistan until the end of the year. A massive show, dubbed the Capital City Carousal, is set for June 4th at KOBO, where the George Elliot Underground will headline a bill of 10 acts. “It’s the last time Zab’s going to be here for six months, so we wanted to make it a huge, epic sendoff,” said Kornegay.

Expect nothing less. - 614 Magazine

"Getting weird with the George Elliot Underground"

Normality is overrated. Rock'n'roll trumps pop. These are the new mantras for the guys from the George Elliot Underground. After five years together, the band is breaking with their traditional roots and heading off in search of new musical inspirations. Weirder ones.

"It's just been a weird, weird summer," said Marlin Kornegay, guitarist for the band. "Getting weird is just doing something you wouldn't normally do, but loving every minute of it. That's pretty much what we did all summer, was just get weird with things, went to a lot of parties, saw a lot of bands and did a lot of things we don't normally do."

All that strangeness culminated early this summer when the GEU released "Summer of Weird," their latest EP. The band - Matt Zaborniak (vocals), Jeremy Browning (guitar), Derek Ultican (bass) and Brian Mayes (percussion) - had spent the last few months holed up with producer James Allison at Electraplay studios - a Columbus studio that's attracting national acts and national buzz - to record the album; an album that's a little harder and perhaps a little darker than their previous material.

"Our stuff before was really poppy. We loved the Cars, you know that whole pop-stuff genre, Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, which got us into writing softer, poppy stuff, but then we were like well, what about all that Rock 'n' Roll stuff we like too? Lets try to make some of that," said Kornegay.

There were also new stories the band wanted to tell, and that moved them explore the darker, deeper sides of themselves through the song writing process.

"As you get older, you experience different things and those things can only be expressed with Rock 'n' Roll," Kornegay said. "There was this evolution, going through college and making friends and then that experience of loosing friends, there's not a lot you can say about that with a pop song. You kind of have to let it out with as much soul as you can.

Soul; it's another word that comes up frequently when guys are talking about their sound. But it transcends the music itself and gets to the core of what the band is about, how they approach their craft and even the City of Columbus. The GEU is a genuine staple of the Columbus scene, and they embrace it like few bands do. And in that way, they perhaps become part of the soul of Columbus itself. They have played the Andyman-a-thon and have strong ties to CD101, they are serious OSU fans and even have a song named after one of campus' most classic bars, the Bier Stube.

"We thought they were just going to put the 'Bier Stube' song on the jukebox, but once they heard it they put in the entire Summer of Weird album, because it fit with their atmosphere, the Rock 'n' Roll, soul thing - we're really proud of that," said Kornegay. "And we do, man, we love that bar. That place is what Rock 'n' Roll and beer and OSU should be about."

The GEU continues their tradition of giving back to the school that played such a large part in their the development as a band. They will be playing the OUABs Syllabus Day Concert at Woody's Tavern in the Ohio Union.

"A lot of bands think they're too good to play campus, but we love it. The response there is always great, the kids are always energetic and it's where our roots are," said Kornegay.

So what can you expect to see from the GEU?

"You know on stage we get loud, we sweat, we get rambunctious, sometimes we get angry, but it's always directly related to the music, and the audience can tell that," Kornegay said.

"We're definitely gonna make you feel something."

- UWeekly

"GEU - Summer Dropkick at the Basement"

To fully understand the true George Elliot Underground experience, one must feel the electric intensity that permeates from the stage at any of their live performances. Take for instance August 28, 2010, a balmy Saturday night at The Basement in Columbus, OH, a club not far from the band’s base of operation.

The small bar buzzes eagerly as the GEU take the stage in front of an already fervent and inebriated crowd who were beyond warmed up and practically begging the group to turn things up to 11. Kicking off with a ferocious rendition of Attack of the Lightningbird Pt. 11, the song’s opening lines take a sinister turn. Vocalist Matt Zab is no longer inviting us to put our love in his hands, he is warning us that if we find ourselves bruised and battered at the end of this rock & roll show – it’s our own fault. He’s just a rolling stone and we should have known that coming in.

The band then delves straight into I.N.K and its searing guitar lead proves more spine-tingling than any studio-recorded version could ever hope to contain. The excitement of their show nearly proves to be too much for a group of overly intoxicated blonde girls, who slurred along with vocalist Matt Zab, improvising their own versions of his lyrics and ensuring that the venue floor is properly coated in a frothy layer of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

After two songs from the new EP, the quintet treat the crowd to the summer anthem Love in the Morning, an enormous tune whose chorus deserves to have a backing-vocal of at least thirty-thousand arena attendees at every show they play. The crowd roars in approval, a wave of “whoa-oa’s” sailing out across the out-stretched arms of passionate fans before crashing back upon the band themselves.

Only three songs into the show the unrelenting Underground’s performance is threatening to turn hazardous. Bodies are flying, booze is spilling, and the support beams holding the bar’s roof in place are beginning to sway. Do they heed these warnings and turn down the amps, play an acoustic number and disperse complimentary bottles of water to the simmering audience?

Nay. They each take a quick chug from their respective bottles and storm through a catalog of generation-spanning timeless rock & roll nuggets, including the cocky, hip-shaking Man You Need, and Summer of Weird track Bier Stube, in which Zab casually informs the crowd that if they wanted to keep the show going, the next round was on them. GEU deliver the straight-forward Mooney Suzuki-esque rock of Walk On and the head-banging funk metal stomp of Welcome to Battlethorne Castle with the kind of swagger that only a great band in their youthful prime can possibly conjure up.

As the home-stretch of the show sets in, the George Elliot Underground opts to open things up a bit by jamming out January One with the showmanship and technicality of an early Lynrd Skynrd, drummer Brian Mayes pummeling his kit through a deafening series of drum rolls while a dual guitar onslaught tears at the face-flesh of everyone in attendance.

Surveying the drenched state of the crowd and his own band, Zab unbuttons his shirt much to the delight of the aforementioned blonde posse who howl in delight and climb upon the security barrier, attempting to lick glistening sweat from his exposed midriff in a act of pure idol worship. He gives the signal and GEU launch into their final tune, a fast-paced version of the Chuck Berry classic, Johnny B. Goode, a sonic victory lap celebrating the effort of a finely-tuned, five-headed rock Adonis, a performance nearly evangelical in it’s delivery.

Written By Alex Mosie

"The George Elliot Underground- Summer of Weird EP"

Sometimes when it comes to what’s mainstream on the radio, I wish some brilliant scientist could invent a musical time machine. Maybe not a Delorean or a hot tub, but just a device that takes a listener back when Justin Bieber and Ke$ha were dominating the airwaves.

Or, as Bob Seger would put it, I just want some old time rock n’ roll.

Luckily, The George Elliot Underground out of Columbus, Ohio, are crafting a vintage sound on their EP Summer of Weird, and are offering it free at, a makeshift classic rock album in the 2010’s. Not at all outdated or antiquated, the EP blends modern and classic for one excellent sunny day listen.

“I.N.K” has a rambling melodic guitar riff and vocals in the verses edging on apathetic, in the same way that AM Taxi and The Replacements have almost a laid-back singing tone. The high-pitched shout in the chorus is fiery, and the song is a chiaroscuro of hard and soft rock.

“Attack of the Lightningbird, Part 11” sounds a little more like the Gaslight Anthem, and the band has a flair for cleverly throwing some vibrant “whoas” into their songs at just the right time. The vocals are a little rougher, and the drumming is soulful, this energetic track would’ve fit right in during Springsteen’s era, with a rip-roaring solo worthy of a spot on Guitar Hero.

“Biere Stube” has some of the best guitar work on the album, and bluesy vocals with a Deep Purple-y vibe, whereas ”January One” has a hacksaw guitar riff and crunchy bassline, and, dare I say it?, brings the funk along with a side of punk.

Even though it’s 2010, the vintage soul of The George Elliot Underground is exactly what we need right now.

"Summer of Weird EP Release at Skully's"

A little bit of everything Saturday night at Skully’s as 3 locals (Blastronauts, The George Elliot Underground, Karate Coyote) and an out-of-towner (Athens’ Manor Animals) keep the rock rolling (as opposed to the Rick Rolling) during this Memorial Day weekend.

Not really sure of the genesis of this show but it could be the end of a weeklong celebration for The George Elliot Underground who released a new EP, Summer of Weird, earlier this week and played multiple shows in the last week or so with bands such as American Bang and The Wildbirds.

For the price (FREE … download NOW), Summer of Weird, recorded at Electraplay Studio by James Allison (Blastronauts) and Tony Stewart, is worthy of space on the iPod. At times, Summer of Weird recalls the lower NYC lower East Side hipster rock of The Strokes (“I.N.K.”), at other times there’s a retro Detroit-style garage rock sound (“Attack of the Lightening Bird Pt. 11?). My favorite, though, is the 5-minute jam “January One”, heavy with a mid-70’s Southern Rock swagger (if all the songs sounded like this, I’d love to see G.E.U. open a Skynryd/Govt Mule/Black Crowes triple bill).

Try before you buy! -

"Local Rockers’ First NYE Show"

In a world of indie, punk, garage, and southern rock, there hasn’t been much emphasis on creating “new” classic rock. But five former high school friends from Pickerington are doing just that. The George Elliot Underground, named after a misfit Vietnam vet, formed last fall with Matt Zaborniak on vocals, Jeremy Browning and Marlin Kornegay on guitar, Derek Ultican on bass, and Brian Mayes on drums. They’ll perform their first New Year’s Eve show on Thursday night at Circus with Burglar, Chelsea Automatic, and The Compressions.
Expectations for New Year’s Eve rock shows are typically high, so The George Elliot Underground has been preparing to deliver a raucous performance. “On New Year’s Eve, you want to dance, you want to party… you want to do whatever they were doing in the movie Footloose,” Marlin laughed. “We’re going to give people everything they’re expecting and maybe a little bit more.” Their set will feature a Beatles cover, a rendition of their original blues song “January One,” and Matt’s prized white microphone. As with most New Year’s Eve revelers, members of the band have been reflecting upon the past year. “My favorite part of 2009 was coming to grips with wanting to play music for the rest of my life,” Matt said. He recently left Ohio for six months to train with the Air National Guard. The band waited and practiced without him. They’ll begin recording their second EP in January and hope to have the opportunity to play at Comfest next summer. “We’re finally starting to create our own sound,” Derek said. “We know our instruments better and are becoming more comfortable together now.”

Tickets to the New Year’s Eve show at Circus cost $10 and doors open at 9:00 p.m. The George Elliot Underground also will perform on February 13 at The Basement and on February 27 at Skully’s. For more information, visit
- Columbus Underground

"G.E. Underground"

The George Elliot Underground is made from fragments of bands broken by time, space and even a fire. But when these five musicians moved into an off-campus house together in 2005, there was no stopping the music that erupted from their basement in late night, alcohol-infused jam sessions.

Over the years, the band’s sound matured into a cohesive revival of classic rock with “more electricity than AEP can handle.” With a demo in the works and a show at Sloopy’s on Saturday, members of the George Elliot Underground are working harder than ever to make the music they love.

UWeekly spoke to drummer Brian Mayes about the band’s origins, alcoholic mayhem and aliens.

UW: What is the story behind the band name, the George Elliot Underground?

When I lived in Cincinnati, I worked in a restaurant, and the manager was named George Elliot. He was a Vietnam vet who was heavily addicted to psychedelic drugs. He was really burned out and couldn’t speak very well, so it’s kind of a tribute to him.

UW: What made you want to form the GEU when you guys were already in other bands?

The other bands we were in all sort of just fell apart, and people went their own ways. The bassist of the Sheens/Heavy Shakers ended up living in North Carolina after he graduated. The drummer for Starboard Fluke moved to Florida and then traveled the world after he graduated. We were all sitting around one day and said, “Well, why don’t we just start playing music together?”

UW: How would you describe your music, and what should people expect from your live show?

Rock and roll. Classic rock, like Rolling Stones combined with Aretha Franklin and CCR. We are just going for a classic rock sound in the city that that has nothing but art rock and emo/pop/punk bands. People don’t come see us to hear some artsy new wave music. They come see us for the show, to be entertained

UW: What are some of your favorite bands on the local scene?

Hotel War, Main Street Gospel, and I like Pirate. Our guitar player is actually in a fight with one of their guitar players. They were sleeping with the same girl at the same time.

UW: Both locally and nationally, are there any bands out there that you just cannot stand?

Anything that you hear on the Blitz [now called the Rock]: Nickelback, Godsmack, Creed, Hinder, Alter Bridge, 3 Doors Down, Three Days Grace and all those shitty bands. We could throw Plain White T’s in there too.

UW: What are the last three albums you bought?

Kings of Leon’s “Only By the Night,” Oasis’ “Dig Out Your Soul” and the Raconteurs’ “Consolers Of The Lonely.”

UW: Why did you record your demo at Analog Sounds?

It is really about the sound David Wesley gives you on the finished product. He is really into our music and came to a few of our practices, took a bunch of notes and got our input on how we wanted it to sound. He’s taken a personal initiative and extra time out of his busy day to work with us.

UW: Do you have any crazy stories from life in the GEU?

[laughs] There are a few. There’s always the classic, Derek, our bassist, passing out at the bar at 9 p.m. Most of them involve alcohol. Marlin likes to disappear and then come back randomly and have sexual relations with fat people. We went to Lollapalooza and the whole Chicago weekend was nuts, for example, puking over bridges in the middle of the day.

UW: What is next for GEU?

Start playing a lot more shows, get signed to a deal and do a tour. We want to go until we can’t go anymore and take this to the top.

UW: Do you believe in aliens?

Absolutely. I think aliens built the pyramids.
- UWeekly

"Four of a Kind"

On Feb. 11 at 9 p.m., CD101’s “Frontstage101” will feature Columbus roots rockers the George Elliot Underground, previewing their pungent EP. Tracks include the defiant “Welcome To Battlethorne Castle”, which burns the haze off railroad riffs and tripwire rhythms, cutting through 60s proto-blues-metal echoes and personal pipe dreams, all along the GEU’s own crispy bridges. Meanwhile, with a well-absorbed Creedence feel, “Mississippi Adultery” stealthily follows a nocturnal bass line, ‘til it’s time to ring the daylights out of promises, and high-rolling “On Top” knows when and where to push its luck. - UWeekly

"Local Gold"

Our members are... Matt Zab (lead vocals), Marlin Sevenns (lead guitar), Jeremy Sheen (lead guitar), Hooday James (lead bass), and Brian Dangerous (lead drums).

We formed in... August of 2008 but we've all been best friends since high school and have played in numerous bands together over the years. It just took us a while to realize that if we truly wanted to make music for the rest of our lives that this was the line-up that had the potential to make it happen.

Our most recent release is... in the final stages of the recording process. David Wesley at Analog Sound Studio is working his magic to create a memorable collection of songs, including the single "Man You Need." Wesley has fittingly captured our sound and enhanced the impressive songwriting efforts in these four tracks. We are very eager for everybody to hear the finished product.

Our primary musical influences are... based in the roots of rock 'n' roll, soul, and modern alternative music. While we take large influence from the classic greats like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, we also are all huge fans of more recent bands such as Kings of Leon, Jet, The Raconteurs, and The Strokes. Anything that inspires us to groove, stomp our boots, and drink a few beers usually influences us in one way or another.

Our music is best described as... classic rock 'n' roll with a modern twist. It has the edge of rock 'n' roll and the groove of vintage soul. It has the sincerity of the 1960s meeting the hypocrisy of modern day. It mixes the volume of the West Coast with the purity of the Midwest. Simple, raw, energetic and full of passion, it's a very familiar sound in a fashion all of its own.

I would describe our live show as... unpredictable and entertaining. We put all of our energy and emotion into our live performances. It's a little like losing your virginity. At first you're not sure what to think or how it will feel but by the end of the show you'll be glad you came, however, [you're also] a little disappointed that it ended so quickly. Guess you could say we loosen up the crowd.

Our band's name comes from... Mary Anne Evans, better known by her pen name, George Elliot. She was an English novelist and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure that her works were taken seriously.

It may be amusing to learn that we... are a band of completely ridiculous characters. Hooday always drinks and dances on tables. Marlin has a phobia of blue ink. Jeremy has the best Robert De Niro impression ever. Brian plays "World of Warcraft" and Zab once claimed himself as the new "hardest working man in show business." We are also all single and disease-free-single by choice, disease-free by pure luck.

One essential element to our music is... diversity. We stand out from other bands because each of our songs stands out from one another. Diverse songwriting is at the heart of what connects us to a wide variety of listeners.

The best thing about Columbus is... almost impossible to say. We truly love everything about this city and all proudly call it our home. The culture, diversity, and tradition in this city are truly something extraordinary. There's amazing venues, tons of bands, and a music scene that is growing more and more every day. Columbus has Comfest, CD101, plenty of independent record stores, and the Buckeyes. What more could you ask for?

The greatest show we've ever had was... probably our gig at the Newport, but we had a show at Ruby Tuesdays that is a very close second. Our best performance was definitely at Ruby's but the energy and size of the crowd at the Newport was absolutely incredible. The sound of over a hundred people chanting "G.E.U." at the end of the show was by far the most surreal moment in all of our lives.

The best thing about playing live music is... looking out into the crowd and feeling the support of every single person at the show. You connect with people on such an intimate level when you see them singing, dancing, and totally losing themselves to your music. It's the greatest rush in the world.

The worst thing about it is... when you wake up the day after a show. It signifies the end of the debauchery that occurred all through the night and you usually have one hell of a hangover (nothing that some coffee and a cigarette can't fix, though). There's really no downside to the George Elliot Underground.

In five years, we... will still be together, no matter what. Of course, we would love to say that we'll be making money, touring the country, and living the good life, but who really knows? We might be traveling in a shitty little van playing in front of twenty people a night with just enough money to get to the next gig. But wherever we are, we'll be there together, and we'll be playing music together until it is absolutely impossible for us to continue doing so. - UWeekly

"Former high school classmates unite years later to form rock band"

In the darkness to stage left, Brian Dangerous, drummer for The George Elliot Underground, was rummaging through a pile of instruments and equipment the band members had set aside when they arrived. Part of his drum set was at his feet, covered with strings of Christmas lights.

"I've got to figure out if they are all going to come on," he said, brushing back his long, curly hair which was held mostly in place by his signature bandana sweatband. Once he was sure his drums would be properly illuminated, he stepped through the back door of Skully's Bar to join the rest of his band for a pre-show pep talk, delivered by band manager Brad Stickley.

The first band to play in Saturday's show at Skully's was The Sleeps, a band from Cleveland who played electric rock in a style not quite familiar to the Columbus crowd. Twenty-seven people were in Skully's when the show started, but nearly 250 people, ranging from college girls in dresses to middle-aged men in blue jeans, crowded the bar when The George Elliot Underground took the stage.

As Brian directed the other musicians to start, lead singer Matt Zab stepped to the microphone and filled the bar with a pure and harmonic voice not common for a local band.

The crowd screamed and cheered as Derek, the bass player, knelt to his knees and played before playing some more while lying on his back. Across the stage, guitarist Marlin pointed at the crowd and lifted his guitar in the air above his head, and Jeremy, the other guitarist, knelt at the front of the stage and let the crowd touch his guitar as his fingers danced across the strings.

"I love you," a girl shouted to the band. But they couldn't hear her because the rest of crowd was shouting, in unison, "G-E-U!"

The first time I met The George Elliot Underground, the five artists and their manager were practicing in a middle-class neighborhood in Pickerington, about 20 minutes east of the Ohio State campus. Their one-room studio with plywood floors was littered with beer cans and filled with amps and speakers and drums and guitars and other pieces of equipment with which I wasn't familiar.

The unfinished walls were decorated with posters: The Strokes, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, Hendrix and even Incubus. The band's producer later told me that he can hear the influence from many of these bands in George Elliot's music, but admires the fact that the band still has its own distinct sound.

"We are definitely a college band. Those are the people we want to target," Stickley told me.

The band plays mostly around campus, and is hoping to get more radio playtime on CD 101. Before I ever heard them play, Stickley told me that their style is "classic rock with a modern twist."

"We hate the fact that O.A.R and Rascal Flatts is what Columbus is known for," Stickley said. The band hopes to soon have the largest fan base of any band in Columbus.

The George Elliot Underground was formed last August from two bands that had broken apart. The five band members all went to the same high school, and had remained close friends even when they were in the two separate bands.

Once a few of the less talented artists in their larger group moved away, the five were left to play impromptu band sessions in the basement of their 12th Avenue apartment. By the end of summer, they were ready to perform live.

"They really created a band around a friendship, rather than having a friendship come from being a part of a band," Stickley said.

Their friendship is strong, as they talk to one another sometimes more like brothers than fellow band members. At one point during the practice session I attended, Brian stopped playing his drums long enough to yell at Jeremy.

He shouted "That is not an A. It's a B-flat. It goes C, then B-flat."

"Oh, I did not know that," Jeremy replied, smiling halfway.

Brian shook his head and looked down at his drums.

"God, you guys are a bunch of amateurs," Brian said. "You are like high schoolers playing at a talent show."

These types of antics are typical of Brian. He is the big play caller for the band, especially when they are performing. Brad might be the band's manager, but any decisions that need to be made on stage usually come from Brian.

When The George Elliot Underground is onstage, the members think and act as one being. They are one band. But offstage they are much different from one another. Derek wears his blond hair long and straight, and enjoys low cut T-shirts with lines of alternate colors. At the Skully's show, he wore a black leather vest, a half dozen hemp bracelets and nearly 10 necklaces, one of which supported a gold cross which dangled to his chest. He is very laid back, and puts a lot of emotion into his music. He moves and sways with the beat and sometimes closes his eyes as he plays.

Jeremy stands next to Derek and is nothing like the taller bass player. Jeremy is a thinker, not a feeler. He watches and considers things, and during a show you can tell he is thinking about 100 things all at once. He prefers to wear plain T-shirts, wears his hair slicked back and, like the rest of the band, is always in cowboy boots.

Brian, with his big hair, beard and bandana, is the most outgoing person in the band. He is loud, and usually scares people the first time he meets them. But once he's your friend you will appreciate his tenacious humor and bizarre antics. On weekends he has been known to skip three nights of sleep in a row, and he is always ready for a party.

Marlin is probably the most fashionable of the band members. He wears stylish shirts with pearl snaps for buttons. He is the only black man in the band, and often gets teased by the rest of the group, joking that he has no rhythm. He likes knit hats, which he wears even during summer, and occasionally wears sandals, though he wore boots to the show.

Marlin knows best what it is to be a member of The George Elliot Underground. His take on the band: "Everybody talks about music having so much meaning and everything. For us it is different. We were all friends first, and we just came together and started playing. Now it is all we have. Without our music we'd probably be bank tellers or something. If we were good at anything else we probably would have never found music."

Matt Zab is a little different from the others in the band. He plays no instrument and always wears his hair short and his face shaved. Zab is the singer. His voice is golden, and his lyrics are well thought out. Zab appears to always be planning his next move. Whether it is the next thing he says or the next place he walks, you can tell he is always thinking about the future. This trait might be what led Zab to sign up for the military last year. His tour begins the second week of June, which means Zab will be gone for most of the summer.

While Zab is gone, the band members will be promoting their soon-to-be-released album, and improving their skills as musicians. This summer the rest of the band is going to take music classes and practice as much as possible. Then once their lead singer is back, they hope to be ready to go to the top of the charts.

"I really think these guys have what it takes to go big," Stickley said.

All that remains now is to see what the rest of Columbus thinks.

The George Elliot Underground has one more show before Zab goes to the military. The band will be playing at The Circus Bar on the corner of High and Fifth streets on June 5.

"Locals Only: The George Elliot Underground"

The George Elliot Underground was an idea years before it became a band. As students at Pickerington Central during the early part of this decade, the members of The Sheens and Starboard Fluke often talked about how cool it would be to team up someday as a side project.

"Kind of like a supergroup," lead drummer Brian Mayes said. "I mean, not really, but in our minds."

As the years rolled on, both bands broke up. Eventually, that core group of friends found themselves musically idle and living together in a Campus-area house. So last summer Mayes teamed with lead singer Matt Zab, lead guitarists Marlin Kornegay and Jeremy Browning and lead bassist Derek Ultican to form the Picktown supergroup they always dreamed of.

(Yes, they have "lead bass," "lead drums" and two lead guitarists.)

In some ways the band still has roots in Pickerington, where they maintain a rehearsal space. But their first year of existence has been all about coming to know and be known in Columbus proper.

When the GEU debuted their classic-rock-inspired, showmanship-heavy live show in Columbus clubs last year, they did so with extreme confidence - a confidence that their peers quickly chipped away.

"We saw bands that were tighter. It felt like they were louder," Kornegay said. "It just makes you want to be better."

The band honed their craft for a few months, thanks in part to the challenge of matching the energy and charisma of groups they admire like The Lost Revival, the Floorwalkers and Nick Tolford and Company.

But this spring, just as they were beginning to learn some new tricks, the band went on hiatus while Zab completed a school commitment in Missouri.

That hiatus finally ends Saturday, when the GEU plays Skully's with Hotel War, The Lost Revival and Scott Neff.

In the interim, the remaining band members followed the lead of their signature song, "Welcome to Battlethorne Castle," by taking "to the streets like a goddamn rolling stone."

They became some of the most active supporters of local music, often rallying crowds for other groups as they tried to foster the kind of community that could support them when they got back on stage.

The band also used that time to tweak some recordings they made at Analog Sound Studios, all of which are now available for free at shows and on MySpace. They hope to get around to making an album at some point, but for now they're focused on putting on a live show that slays.

For Kornegay, that means connecting with the audience, sometimes through tried and true rock tropes that might make some bands feel self-conscious.

"You'd be surprised when you point at people," he said. "When you play a chord and you point at them, they really feel like that chord is just for them."
- Columbus Alive


The Medieval Sessions (November 2008)
The George Elliot Underground EP (October 2009)
Live in the CD101 Big Room (December 2009)
Midnight Madness Session (January 2010)
Electraplay Studio EP (February 2010)
Summer of Weird EP (May 2010)
Middlemarch EP (March 2011)



The George Elliot Underground is made from fragments of bands broken by time, space and even a fire. But when these five musicians moved into an off-campus house together in 2005, there was no stopping the music that erupted from their basement in late night, alcohol-infused jam sessions. Over the years, the band’s sound matured into a cohesive revival of classic rock with “more electricity than AEP can handle.” (Ben Albaugh)

This young up-and-coming alternative rock act has its heart rooted deep in the soul of classic Rock N Roll. Based out of Columbus, Ohio, they possess an authentic indie midwest swagger. Influences range from classic greats such as the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the MC5 to the new alternative sounds of the Strokes, Jet, Kings of Leon and the Black Keys. Their sound creates an atmosphere of the 1960's sincerity converging with the hypocrisy of modern day. It unites the volume of the West Coast with the purity of the Midwest. Simple, raw, energetic and full of passion. It's a very familiar sound in a fashion all of it's own.