Wednesday is the day Columbus rock outfit Zoo Trippin' sets aside each week for band practice.
On one particular midweek day in April, while the rest of the band members were busy working on new songs, singer Tony Casa's eyes were glued to social media.
To be fair, there might have been a good reason for Casa to be a little preoccupied with Facebook: Zoo Trippin' reached the prestigious milestone of 5,000 "likes" on the platform earlier that afternoon.
It was hard to gauge what impact this milestone had on Casa, his attention focused firmly on the glowing screen in his hands.
Mere feet away in the band's cramped basement practice space, the rest of Zoo Trippin' continued to work through the new material. The sounds that reverberated through the cluttered space were something of a departure from the group's funk- and blues-driven jams of previous efforts.
The four or so new songs the group practiced on that April day were reminiscent of the hardest-rocking tunes from the Guess Who, with occasional hints of Rage Against the Machine. It was a strange and beguiling mixture that found the band embracing the hard-rock sound that subtly had pervaded many of its past efforts.
Casa's difficulty in focusing might have to do with the subject matter. This was perhaps the most personal material Casa had presented as an entertainer: a concept album titled "The Sonny Black EP," named after his own hard-partying, quick-tempered alter ego. It's a persona Casa hopes to leave behind him.
"Most of it is about how much I hate myself," Casa said of the album's thematic content, his tone and mannerisms betraying neither humor or self-pity. "I'm trying to kill off the old me. I don't want to be a narcissist, an addict, an emotional drunk."
The new EP is meant to provide closure to Casa's reckless past, while honoring the path that has led him to the success he currently enjoys.
"It's been a nightmare," Casa said of the writing process. "Normally we write collaboratively, but a concept album about my youth -- I don't want anyone else writing on it for obvious reasons. They can't speak to my experience like I can."
Challenges aside, the new EP promises to be the hardest-hitting effort yet from the Columbus music mainstays.
Expect an autumn 2018 release -- that is, if Casa managed to tear himself away from his phone long enough to finish writing.
The next time you can catch Zoo Trippin' in Columbus is at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Shrunken Head, 251 W. Fifth Ave. in Columbus.
The band will play an "Electric Goes Acoustic" set, and will be joined by Miller and the Hunks. Admission is free.
Mike Thomas is a feature writer for In The Record Store. ThisWeek publishes a weekly feature from the organization, which focuses on central Ohio music discovery and involvement. In The Record Store will publish the full version of this story later this month in its magazine.