A small town in Northeast Ohio may not be the perfect place to learn about music, but Justin Lab (guitar) is making it work. Together with Kyle Barbuto (bass), Anthony Looby (guitar), and Alex Looby (drums), they have formed Vollstin, and are finding their place in the Cleveland metal scene.
Do it yourself. Even though Lab attends a performing arts school, he has very little music education to choose from. Lab would like to learn more about chord progressions and music theory, but that is not an option at a school that determines eligibility on grade level and not talent. Giving up on guitar was never in the cards for Lab who describes music as, “Really, I just like anything that sounds really melodic. The way the guitar sounds is really unique compared to any other instrument, especially electric guitar, because there is no instrument that can compare or compete in how that guitar sounds.” So, Lab did it on his own, painstakingly teaching himself how to play complicated techniques, like sweep picking. Lab admitted it took approximately two months to get the hang of sweep picking and he is drawn to the way it makes music smooth and flow well.
Practice is a full time job. Often the key to success is in what happens behind the curtain. Lab practices guitar an average of 32-38 hours per week. He plays alone and with his bandmates almost every night and finds that it makes a difference. He remarked, “I don’t think that someone can just be good, like they are not just born good at something. I feel like you have to have some amount of practice. But I feel like some people are born with a natural drive for something and that’s where talent comes in.” One of the most important elements to realizing a dream is the drive and determination that keeps you moving toward that goal. Lab went on to say “I think that I have something to offer…We (Vollstin) do a lot of things other bands aren’t doing right now. I feel like if you don’t give up, you will amount to something in your music career.” Sticking with it has been good for Vollstin as they hit the Cleveland music scene running this year. They have been featured at live shows in the area and will be part of the Tri-C Rock Off coming up this month.
The music of Vollstin is raw and unfettered by commercialism. It is like the band members themselves, young and free, making the live performances energizing. Watching them play, I was drawn to their excitement and enthusiastic renditions of the original songs on the set list. Lab is front and center with guitar solos and extended guitar parts that are stunning in their technique and emotion. The future is bright for Lab as he continues to hone his considerable skill at live shows and looks forward to recording an album with Vollstin soon.