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Ourselves and Others, an alternative rock trio, started when all three – Jonathan Barrett, vocals and keyboards, Stephen King, drums, Mateo Rodriguez, guitar – attended Kingwood High.
King walked in on Barrett practicing a 21 Pilots song for a talent show in the school’s choir room, introduced himself, and asked to sit in on drums. The two wound up performing the talent show together and decided to pursue songwriting as a duo. Rodriguez later joined the band after helping the two set up for gigs, doing sound and hauling gear.
“We didn’t even know each other,” said Barrett about meeting King. “But we ended up playing the song all the way through. I found his Twitter and messaged him and said, ‘We should do that again. We ended up playing the talent show and it was a really incredible experience.”
The name Ourselves and Others doesn’t have a complex backstory, a simple and common turn of phrase that Barrett and Rodriguez came up with in conversation that they thought was cool.
But an unplanned Hurricane Harvey benefit gig at Starwood Studios in Dallas late last year set the band’s collective ambition in full motion. Following the show, King took a leap of faith to take time off from University of Texas to seriously pursue music with Barrett and Rodriguez, who had since finished high school and were still living and working in Kingwood.
The result is the Rudiment EP, a culmination of songs written over the last few years and in recent songwriting sessions that the group recorded at Westfall Recording Company in Austin. The songs are a mix of many influences, from the aforementioned 21 Pilots to Panic at the Disco, Walk the Moon, and even Ed Sheeran that recalls the bright sounds of Grouplove and dramatics of Muse. The personal lyrics are an outlet for Barrett to express his emotions but in an uplifting way.
“I was listening to all the music my friends were listening to and I felt it lacked positivity,” “Sad music is really good and its great if you can find a sad song you can find yourself in and relate to when you’re feeling that way. But I really value the feeling that happens at shows when things are really positive so what I ended up doing was writing about when things were sad, but spun it in a way that brings hope.”
Ourselves and Others are now immersing themselves in the thriving Houston music scene. They play a show at Super Happy Fun Land on July 20 and at White Oak Music Hall on August 30. The plan is to keep on writing and getting the music out to as many people as possible, with more recording to follow in the future.
And although they are a young band, and young in general, there is a lot of hope among the band about their burgeoning career, and their early experience with the music scene has given Ourselves and Others’ chosen name a whole new take.
“Now it has developed an important meaning to us,” Barrett says. “We are really passionate about the community that concerts and music can form. Extremely different types of people are there singing the same words and that’s what Ourselves and Others means to us now.”
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