“Well, I know my mind’s a mess, but I’ll take a dive”, Kent Irwin, vocalist and guitarist of People with Bodies sings on the opening track of their debut release. Honest, confessional lines like this are littered throughout People with Bodies’ eponymous first EP. Their energetic lyric-driven brand of indie-punk could also be described as ‘anti-folk,’ subverting conventional indie songwriting tropes. The band likens their sound to a plethora of different artists from Third Eye Blind to Grey Matter to punk stalwarts Buzzcocks.
People with Bodies was conceived as a duo, with Fil Corbitt and Kent Irwin trading guitar, drum and vocals duties. Earlier in 2016, People with Bodies added bassist Mark Nesbitt to round out the lineup. Though the band’s name would imply three living, breathing humans, a plant also joins the band on stage, and on tour.
More than anything, the band’s name serves as a beacon of what their songs are written about. “We try to write about being human, and that seems to cover a lot of ground”, Corbitt states. The band’s writing comes from the organic lens of human experience, a lens that encapsulates more than just personal relationships and feelings. “The three of us try to travel together outside of band functions and things like the sound of wind in pine trees, the texture of a city or just the feeling of standing out in the desert makes its way into our writing.”
Although most artists are still in the developing stages after a year of existence, Reno’s People with Bodies have already travelled thousands of miles within their first year.
The group has played 10 shows locally, with venues ranging from beloved DIY art space the Holland Project, to dimly-lit basements in friends’ homes. Although the trio is rooted in Reno, their gig history proves to be multifarious: People with Bodies toured around Brazil this past June, and through five US states in September.
In 2014, Corbitt and Irwin had traveled through Peru, writing the songs “A Mirror, A Storm” and “New Border” along the way, both of which appear on the self-titled cassette tape. The former was written on a man-made island in Lake Titicaca, the latter written about a Peruvian/Chilean border dispute. Corbitt says “Both [songs] were mainly about idealism and reality clashing, and how being far away from home seemed to amplify that a lot.” The debut cassette weaves natural sound the two recorded while traveling in between tracks, as well as featuring an interview with UNR English professor, Mike Branch.
What sets People with Bodies apart from other bands is their abandonment of the traditional indie-band framework. Their artistic presence isn’t limited to just their recorded music—Corbitt says that People with Bodies works jointly as a video project; creating sketches, live videos and music videos of other bands. Even the manners in which they have performed have been unorthodox: their friend, and videographer, Marcelo Florentino captured a live set in which they played a few acoustic songs while walking around Saõ Paulo. The visual element is a crucial part of the band’s creative platform. Footage from their mobile shows was shot on a 1990 hi-8 camcorder, featuring scenic shots of São Paulo and Porto Alegre.
Outside of People with Bodies, the three members are occupied with a multitude of creative outlets. Corbitt hosts a podcast called Van Sounds, while Irwin produces content for howlsroad.com, a music and arts blog. Irwin plays in alternative folk quartet Actors Killed Lincoln, as well as his solo project Southnorth, and Nesbitt plays in local Reno bands The Encounters and The Can’t Gets. Corbitt and Irwin’s journalistic ventures have allowed them to fulfill their musical ambitions—People with Bodies tours double as work trips where the two interview artists and musicians for their separate endeavors.
Despite their love for travel, People with Bodies still holds Reno’s DIY music scene close to their hearts. “I think what makes a good DIY scene is having options, and it seems like that’s happening a lot more in Reno lately,” says Corbitt.
As for the future, People with Bodies has already recorded a full-length album with Watson Meyer of City Wolves and Pry- they’re waiting until next year to release it. There are also plans of a split and a vaporwave EP, which shows the versatility and ambition of the band. People with Bodies are more than just a trio of musicians: they are a musical project that transcends all mediums and boundaries commonplace in independent music.