A band of teens from Pickerington and Clintonville -- inspired by rockers who made historic noise before they were born -- has sought to pick up the torch and light a new, alternative flame.
Reserved through much of a prerehearsal interview on April 15, Blake Bennett made a declaration his bandmates agreed people could take to the bank.
"Our message that we want to let out to everyone is that the alternative scene is definitely alive and we're here to rock out," Bennett said. "Our youth shows that."
With that, the five teens who make up Forever Unknown, an alt-rock band that formed last year and on Feb. 22 won Groove U's statewide 2019 Instaband finals, turned up their amplifiers and went to work.
The weekly, Monday rehearsal, along with mostly weekend gigs in Pickerington and throughout Columbus, is how the group is tuning up for a debut album.
It will be recorded this summer in the studio at Groove U, a state-approved music-industry-career program in Dublin.
Forever Unknown consists of Bennett, a 16-year-old sophomore at Pickerington High School Central; Pickerington High School North sophomores Evan Pond, 16, and Jacob Hutmire, 16; North junior Sully Gerdeman, 17; and Micah Stromsoe DeLorenzo, a 16-year-old sophomore at Whetstone High School in Clintonville.
Prior to February 2018, the boys played together for several years throughout Pickerington, predominantly performing instrumental cover versions of Nirvana songs and other grunge-rock selections.
A classic grunge-rock lineup of two guitars, bass and drums, they still provide the soundtrack to the band and they trade instruments depending on the song.
On Feb. 26, 2018, Stromsoe DeLorenzo joined the group as lead singer.
That's when Forever Unknown began to bring life to original songs that make up the band's live set lists and will fill its upcoming album.
"We have a lot of original ideas lately," Pond said. "It's kind of cool because there's not really a writer's block since there's five people and everyone has their own ideas they can bring."
The group's first gig as a five-piece band was at last year's Pickerington Food Truck Festival, presented by the Central and North Drug Free Clubs of America, and it will have a follow-up performance at the festival May 4.
After submitting a tape of songs for the seventh annual Instaband competition, Forever Unknown was one of 20 high school bands from Ohio invited to perform two songs at the Groove U's campus studio during the first week of February.
A group of Groove U judges selected the band for a live "battle of the bands" final round, where it was among 10 bands that performed in the Feb. 22 battle at Skully's Music-Diner in Columbus.
Forever Unknown was crowned champ by a 60% vote by judges vote and 40% from social-media voting.
"This past six months, we've kind of blown up on social media," Hutmire said. "We've gotten a lot of attention.
"It's out of the ordinary to see a band switch between every instrument. We write whatever we want. Whatever comes to mind is what we write musically and play."
The group's influence range from Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, to PJ Harvey, the Pixies, Nirvana and the Screaming Trees.
"We cover pretty much all of the bases," said Stromsoe DeLorenzo, who added that she's excited to put the EP together and see where the future takes the band.
"We've got a one-year recording contract," she said. "So we're recording an EP and a music video.
"It's really cool."
In addition to Facebook, Forever Unknown has a website at foreverunknownband.com, where information about the group and future shows can be found.
As for shows, Gerdeman suggested people check out Forever Unknown's live act. He said the band isn't one that prides itself on a totally polished show but is one that brings energy and enthusiasm each night out.
"I like that we can kind of just have fun," he said. "If people come to see us, they shouldn't expect a flawless performance, but they should expect to have some fun."