With a name like On Beyond Penguin, one can imagine how unique this band’s funk, jazz, techno sound is. The band is composed of sophomore Sagie Henig on the bass and guitar, sophomore Eshin Jolly on the drums and freshman Jen Roach on the keyboard. Although Henig and Jolly had played as a duo at the former Common Ground Caf last year, they entered the 2007-08 academic year hoping to add a new member to their ensemble. Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, they found Roach, a perfect fit in both musical inclination and personality.

Their performance at Starbucks’ Friday Night Live on April 4 provided an intimate setting for the band to perform a couple hours worth of tunes. The atmosphere was akin to a private jam session; their raw passion for their music was inescapable. I had the opportunity to interview this delightfully quirky trio about the beginnings of the band, their future ambitions and, of course, how their charming name came about.

How did you form as a band and how did it all begin?

Sagie Henig: Basically, [Eshin and I] came to school and we needed a third person. And so we Facebook stalked.

Jen Roach: And they looked up by, what was it?

S.H.: I don’t remember, probably by music interests.

J.R.: And they found that I listened to similar artists as them. So they sent me a message that was like, “Yo, you listen to good music. Do you want to come jam with us sometime?” and I said, “Yeah, sure.”

Which artists did you have in common?

S.H.: Mostly funk bands.

J.R.: Medeski Martin and Wood.

S.H.: John Scofield.

J.R.: And some jazz.

What genre would you classify yourself as?

S.H.: Somewhere between funk- and jazz-type or there’s a lot of techno. It depends on the setting we’re playing in.

J.R.: If we play some place like [Starbucks], we try not to play as much techno because it’s just not as good of a setting for it. We played at CLC a couple of times, and when we play there, we’ll play a lot of New Deal stuff.

What are your ambitions with the band?

Eshin Jolly: Get famous, drop out of school.

S.H.: Mmhmm.

J.R.: That’s why we’re all in a band.

So I have to ask, how did you come up with the name?

J.R.: That was not my doing. I was just like, “So what’re we going to call ourselves?” And they were like, “well, we were thinking On Beyond Penguin.”

S.H.: Last year, before, when Eshin and I played, we were trying to come up with something, and it wasn’t really successful because?

E.J.: We kept looking for euphemisms for obscenities on Wikipedia and we couldn’t really find anything appropriate.

S.H.: Somehow we decided that Dr. Seuss would be appropriate and there is a book called “On Beyond Zebra.” At this point, it was around the time we saw “Happy Feet” and we just thought penguins would be awesome. That’s kind of it.

How much of what you play is rehearsed and how much of it is improvised?

J.R.: None of it is rehearsed.

S.H.: Probably about 15 percent [is rehearsed], and about five percent we actually forget to do. So, 10 percent is what we actually play.

J.R.: We have a general idea of what we want to do. And then it’s kind of like playing off each other.

What’s your favorite part about being in a band?

J.R.: Playing shows, playing music for people.

E.J.: Feeling important in front of a lot of people.

S.H.: Expressing the deeper annals of my mind through… I don’t know, it’s just fun.

In this past year, On Beyond Penguin has had five performances – mostly at Starbucks and the Community Living Center, but also traveling as far as Cornell University. With high aspirations, this young band has a promising future ahead. Unfortunately for any groupies looking for a hook-up, I’m sorry to disappoint, but all of the band members are happily taken. If you’re interested in learning more about On Beyond Penguin, search for their page on Facebook or check out their MySpace site at http://www.myspace.com/onbeyondpenguin.

Sanehira is a member of the class of 2011.

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