PILOT MOUNTAIN — Local musicians from the band Janus 4-14 played a live performance featuring original songs from their new album in Pilot Mountain last Friday. The band was invited to play by Niki Farrington, manager of The Living Room Coffee House and Winebar, for her own 40th birthday celebration.
Natives of Mount Airy, band members Chad Barnard and Shane Mauck formed the group six years ago. While the pair grew up in Mount Airy, the self-described family men were only introduced when their children got together for play-dates. Their shared interest in music created an instant bond.
Barnard, with a degree in audio engineering, had been playing and writing music for decades, but never performed due to anxiety. “I only planned to perform one time,” said Barnard, explaining that he never expected things to progress as they have when he asked Mauck, a multi-instrumentalist, to join him on stage.
Along with drummer Brett Beardsley and former bassist Brad Nichols, the pair formed the group Janus 4-14, named for a robot in a Woody Allen film. “I saw Sleeper, by Woody Allen, when I was 19, and decided then that one day I would name a band for the robot,” said Barnard. Together they began playing gigs across the region and recorded their first two albums.
The friends have developed a unique collaboration, performing primarily original music written by Barnard and fleshed out by Mauck. Barnard explained that he records his ideas as a melody with syllables, but the full meaning comes later. “I like to let the ideas sit and marinate for a while,” he said, noting that the songs are largely autobiographical.
Once the basic song is written, Mauck takes over creating the sound-scape. “I love the freedom, knowing I can do anything I want with it,” said Mauck, sharing that he frequently obsesses over a song, trying to create a perfect musical experience. The final sound can vary from a punk feel to a stadium rock anthem wall of sound.
With a wide range of musical influences, the Janus 4-14 could be described as an Indie-pop/rock band. Their own favorites include The Hold Steady, The Beatles, Beach Boys, Dead Kennedys, Violent Femms, Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zepplin, and Foo Fighters.
A long time friend and musician, Michael Cockerham, has joined as the group’s new bassist, and sat in Friday for his first show with Janus 4-14. Putting on an interactive performance, Mauck said, “I like to get people involved in the music: dancing, singing along, laughing, like we are playing the songs together,” adding that a high quality show is what they aim to deliver.
Introducing their family members who attended the show, Barnard said, “we have an agreement: our families always come first,” explaining the challenges of touring while staying devoted to their four wives and nine children. Yet, their enthusiasm for their craft drives them.
Building a following has been a slow process. “Because we play original work, some clubs won’t book us,” said Barnard, adding that living away from the city music scene has also prevented them from building relationships with other music groups.
They are working toward more exposure through radio and internet. Their songs went nationwide on college radio stations on Monday, and are available through the website: www.janus414.com. “We just want people to hear it,” said Barnard.
Their new album, titled Again and Again and Again, will be released on Feb. 12. Produced by Mitch Easter in his Kernersville studio, the album works to introduce fans into new and unexpected directions. “I see music as a great hole full of treasure,” said Barnard, explaining that he hopes to help people uncover the next layer buried within.
“We are honored that Niki picked us to play. The people in Pilot like us, and we love playing here,” said Barnard.
Diane Blakemore may be reached at 336-368-2222 or on twitter @PilotReporter.