Locals Only: : Patient's Virtue

No matter the label, patientZero's music is a unique voice in the Cincinnati scene

James McKenna

Patient Zero

The ever-elusive genre tag is something all bands face. Someone always wants to know whom a group sounds like rather than what. The members of local band patientZero aren't strangers to this phenomenon. Fans will have a take-home version to weigh after the release of the band's first full-length album, Seemingly So, on Saturday at The Loft in Covington.

Ironically, one of the most interesting aspects of pZ's music is, in fact, the style. It is genuinely unlike anything else in town, yet it is easy to pull influences out of each song.

"Musician, informed listener and general audience alike have run the gamut in naming what style (patientZero is)," according to singer/songwriter/guitarist Chris Sarvak and, while the verdict is still out on exactly what style that is, Sarvak has labeled the product of the band's ingenuity "Rockfusion," citing Faith No More, Yes, Muse and Living Colour as associated bands.

With Sarvak you get crisp and striking vocals along with meaningful content and remarkable guitar playing to boot. In Sarvak's corner is Jay Ehrnschwender, whose thick bass playing and call-and-response-style back-up vocals help accentuate the group's sound. Joe Hollon's keyboard playing fills out the songs and, according to Sarvak, "is 'the sound' that gives (pZ) a unique voice."

Veteran percussionist Cesar Vanegas rounds out the band with a track record spotted with performances with artists like Nils Lofgren, a testament to his level of musicianship. While the core lineup is a strong one, drummers have come and gone from the band; Seemingly So was recorded with the help of studio drummer Jeff McAllister during tracking at Downtown Recording in Louisville, Ky. Another studio drummer will be used for the band's tour in October.

The songwriting in patientZero is divided amongst the members. While Sarvak is the primary drive in terms of songwriting and local management, the end product is a different case.

"I'll come up with a song structure and bring it in to practice for everyone to put their parts to and get comments on the arrangement," Sarvak says. "So first everyone will make their comments on the arrangement, either adding, subtracting or switching parts. It definitely takes 'patientZero shape' when the other members put their parts in. Without the rest of the guys, patientZero wouldn't be what it is."

For Sarvak, playing music is the result of having a musical mother that led him to join a boys choir while in grade school, at which time he was involved with the school band playing trumpet. Family members and the music they liked were also factors. Upon discovering Rush at a young age, pursuing music became a must. Sarvak's achievements with patientZero have included gigs at M.E.A.N.Y. Fest in New York City, the Rock and Ride Music Festival in Louisville, the Midwest Music Summit in Indianapolis and the Midpoint Music Festival locally. The band also received a Cincinnati Entertainment Awards nomination for Best New Artist in 2004.

With the new album comes a lot of setup for touring, promotion and radio play, without outside help from promo companies like Crash Avenue and Tinderbox Music. With management and publicity help of this caliber, as well as the attention stirred up by their previous EP, ... free of any mindset, patientZero seem well on their way to success. This level of preparation has the band even more excited by their musical evolution since ...free of any mindset.

"The musicianship is really growing with this album," Sarvak says. "We are understanding how each one of us approaches music more, and (we are) really writing well together."

PATIENTZERO (patientzero.net) celebrates the release of Seemingly So on Saturday at The Loft above Tickets in Covington.

Scroll to read more Music News articles


Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.