By April Skye Balough
We live in an era of American Idol spinoff shows; where people like Justin Bieber rocket into super-stardom because the right person saw their YouTube cover. It seems as if everywhere you turn, young musical acts just want to be seen, signed, and supplied, except for St. Petersburg locals Alex Schultz, Denny Agosto, and Brennan Taulbee—also known as Polyenso. This isn’t their first rodeo. This trio of twenty-somethings has been making music their entire adolescent life; one was even signed to a label at the ripe age of 16. But the days of being constrained to a label are long gone as they now try their hand at going it solo.
Alex Schultz sits down with a fresh mug of hot tea. He has a cool, collected air about him. He was the one to sign a contract when he could barely drive, and the only original member of their previous band, a post-hardcore group called Oceana. Seven years ago, when it was four former members and Schultz, the teenage crew was understandably stoked to have the opportunity to record with Rise Records, a prominent underground label in the hardcore scene. “They never gave us any input, they’d just be like, ‘That’s great!’” Schultz said, “Rise would be like, ‘Okay, you have a month to write the record, and a month to record it.’”
After an 11-month hiatus, the guys released one last album as Oceana in May 2010, this time ditching their hardcore exterior and cracking open a new “raw roots indie rock” sound. “It was such a drastic change that we lost some of those old screamo fans, but it was completely fine with us,” Schultz stated bluntly. “If we were getting back together for this album, we weren’t gonna do that old stuff anymore. Our heads are somewhere different. If we were gonna do this, we’re gonna do it right.”
Although the last Oceana album was entitled Clean Head, the boys were able to truly clear their heads when they left Rise Records in December of that year. With their departure came a name change; they wanted to “cut the association,” and get a new start. They decided on Polyenso. “Poly” being “many,” and “enso,” an ancient Japanese symbol, having a special meaning to each member. “Beauty in imperfection,” recites Schultz. “For me, it symbolizes the moment that your mind is free to let your body and your spirit create.”
With a renewed symbolic focus, new name, and no constraints, the boys now have the freedom to put everything they have into their writing. Along the way, they lost two members, but “working with Brennan and Denny now is better than ever,” Schultz admits. “We’re all very respectful of each other’s ideas, but at the same time, we’re not scared to be like, ‘I don’t like that at all.’ It’s really taught us all to work together, to not argue. It’s gotten really good.”
A diverse history and a distinct vision landed St. Pete’s Polyenso two articles in the internationally popular online newspaper, Huffington Post: 20 Artists to Start Listening To in 2014, and more recently Polyenso’s ’17 New Years’ Just Created Your New Favorite Genre Of Music. Their music draws goosebumps, turns any room into a meditative cave, and causes listeners to walk away feeling enlightened by the imperfect majesty that is Polyenso.
Banner photo official logo of Polyenso & James Lano