It’s early February 2016. Four young, nervous musicians wait backstage at The End on Elliston Place. Their names are Ryan Stowe, Evan Miranda, Stephen Luther, and Sean Rossettie. It’s their first show. They’re practically strangers, given that they had only started playing together a month prior. Nervous laughter and excited murmurs turn more serious when the group learns that the headlining band scheduled to play before them didn’t show, slotting Born Animal as the main attraction. Little did they know, it was also the first step in the epic odyssey to come. Born Animal is a dynamic band influenced by funk, indie-rock, and punk. They highly value each other’s opinions and tastes, which fosters an encouraging environment for creating music. Balancing school and music for these four Vanderbilt and Belmont students has become second nature.
Their sound, as described by frontman Stowe, is “a little bit of Young the Giant, Arctic Monkeys, and, like, Foo Fighters, Manchester Orchestra. It’s like indie-rock, verging on hard-rock.” Miranda, the band’s drummer, retorts, “So, rock.” The band’s brotherly, humorous interplay is evident from the moment they sit down.
Both Miranda and Stowe have been playing music for a long time. “I’ve been playing music for about 13 years, now. What drew me to music was probably my family and probably an innate sense to play music. I ended up joining our elementary school band as a percussionist and that was solely by my music teacher. After that, I started to get more into actual drumming–that was sixth grade and from there it just continued,” said Miranda.
Similarly, Stowe has also played for more than half of his life: “I think I started taking piano when I was five or six–forced by my parents, as many kids are. I think it began to change for me when I found out I could sing, probably when I was ten or eleven. People were telling me, ‘You have a good voice, you should keep it up.’” Shortly after, Stowe began to write his own music and describes his current focus is “playing guitar, singing, and writing songs.”
The band came together in unconventional ways. “Our bassist and I, we are both from Houston and he and I have been friends since we were, like, fifteen or so,” said Stowe, “We’ve been playing in bands together and making music for years. I moved to Nashville to go to Vanderbilt and I started to work on music and I kept telling him ‘You gotta come up and hang out.’So, he moved up here to go to Belmont,” explained Stowe.
Originally, Stowe and Luther were the only band members. However, Born Animal lacked a drummer and a guitarist. A day before he was planning on holding auditions, he found himself at the same Mayfield jam session as a highly skilled percussionist. Shortly after the band finished its set, an elated Stowe approached the notable drummer, Miranda, to ask if he would be interested in joining the then young Born Animal. Miranda continued playing and recounts, “I saw him up on the balcony and I remembered him, and I looked at him like, ‘Oh, bro!’ And I remember I just tossed him a beer up to the balcony, and he caught it, and it was just a moment of: ‘Yes, this kid is cool.’” Born Animal had found its drummer.
Shortly after Miranda’s entrance, Stowe explained that they found Rossettie, their second guitarist, through a friend’s recommendation. Not long after all four members met and started playing together, Born Animal had their first show: “Our first show was February of our sophomore year, so February 2016. The four of us, with our current lineup set, probably started playing together the month before that,” stated Stowe.
Miranda explained how the band landed its first gig: “Basically, for our first gig, I was like, ‘I want to play a gig with this band.’ So, I emailed the guy, Bruce, from The End. He’s this old guy and is super aloof and I was like, ‘Hey man, we can put a build together with three or four bands–ended up being three–and we’re Vandy and Belmont students. We’ll bring a pretty big draw.’ And he was like, ‘Sick.’” Although Stowe remarked on how poorly the band played, Miranda felt they were on the rise. “Yeah, I remember him telling me, after we played at The End, he goes, ‘I guarantee you, in a month, we will playing across the street [Exit/In].”
Now, the band is in the final stages of releasing their second EP and is excited to continue developing their sound. Although the members are unsure of where their music careers will take them, either staying in Nashville or moving to another large city, one thing is for sure: the band, first and foremost, prioritizes its music. As Miranda put it, “basically, we just want to be doing this and we’re just really going to keep doing it, whether it’s touring for the next twenty years and just following a Foo Fighters type thing. You get a reputation for being a rock god or if it’s just having to not really end up doing that much, but you’re still able to live and do what you want.”
Born Animal is having a concert at Exit/In on Sunday, September 10th.