Students record their first album at GSU

William Peebles

Four friends crowd behind a computer screen at Georgia Southern University’s recording studio as Ryan Lawhon pieces together the “heavy and melodic” tracks they recently recorded.

Phillip Smith, Patrick Smith, Tyler Falls, Jake Sanders and Lawhon make up Statesboro’s own loud and energetic melodic hardcore band, Within Leviathan.

Since the inception of the group in 2010, the five GSU students have performed in countless shows across the southeast, all while juggling school, jobs, personal lives and music. The band is currently in the process of recording their first full-length album, entitled “Odyssey,” at GSU’s recording studio. Last Saturday, Lawhon spoke candidly about the band, recording at GSU and what it means to be a college student.

So who is Within Leviathan? What kind of music do you play?

I won’t say we have our own unique sound, but we have a lot of influences. If there were any band I would relate us to, it would have to be Gideon or The Ghost Inside. Melodic hardcore music has really influenced our sound, and so does hip-hop because I rap in a few songs. It’s a big cluster of things. Heavy, yet melodic is what we go for. It’s like two spectrums clashing.

I understand you’ve been producing for the band. How long have you been doing that?

My dad was in radio for a long time, and he did a lot of audio editing, and it always seemed interesting to me. I started to fall in love with music, and eventually I got the point where I wanted to start writing my own music. I started messing around with instruments and audio recording software. I made my first hip-hop beat in 8th grade with a $10 microphone and a $50 keyboard, and it just progressed from there.

How are you able to use the studio at GSU? Who set that up?

We basically got really lucky. We’re broke because we’re in college, and one thing we’ve never been able to afford is studio time. Dr. John Thomson oversees a lot of what goes on in the music technology department, and he’s always been kind in letting us use the studio. We initially recorded in 2010 at the GSU studio with a friend who had access. Now, Phil is a grad student in the music technology program, so he has total access.

Why do you play music? What does recording an album mean to you?

When we first started writing songs they were mostly positive and sometimes cheesy. My intentions were good, but as we came into our sound we wanted something people could relate to that didn’t really have to be positive. I have this view on life that we’re here on earth for the purpose of improving other people’s lives. Personally, I have a difficult time expressing myself if it’s not through music. I want this album to grab people’s attention. I want it to lead me to people I can help in some way.

Why is the album named “Odyssey?” What does that signify?

We chose “Odyssey” because that’s what life is: a giant adventure. We’re all at this age where we’re thrown into the world of adulthood, where everything is uncertain and chaotic. Sometimes I’m scared to death because I don’t know what I want to do next. But there’s no point in giving up. That’s the idea behind the album: Everything is uncertain and life is hard; but there’s a reason for all of it. It’s about finding what we want out of life.

When will the album be released?

If all goes according to plan, you can expect the album by late April. It’ll be available as a hardcopy CD, and it will also be on iTunes and Spotify. There will also be merchandise packages for those interested.