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The Pre-Existing Conniptions: A Lot Of Fire, A Lot Of Causes

Courtesy photo

The Pre-Existing Conniptions will perform at the Ellis Street Moto, 310 S. Ellis, on Friday, Dec. 21, on a bill that includes High Plains Drifter and Blood Tide. The bill also will feature a solo set from Conniptions cellist/vocalist Roni Lowry Worcester. The Pre-Existing Conniptions is rounded out by Evan Ogborn (banjo, vocals), Alana Johns (bass) and Julian Urrego (drums).

Interview Highlights

How did The Pre-Existing Conniptions first come into being?

Roni Worcester: Evan and I have played music together for a long time. We went to school together as well. I wanted to have a band where we could talk about the things that are happening in the world and do gigs for good causes. I linked up with a bunch of different musicians and he was one of them because we've played together for so long.

Evan Ogborn: Roni and I met at Wichita State … actually, before that, in high school but we played in the Wichita State symphony for many years together. We'd always played songs, we'd always written songs together. But with this political climate we needed a different outlet to source concerns and, pretty much, wants that we had for how we wanted to change things. This is the best way we found to do that.

There's a long history of music and activism, but this is specifically a project that came together to talk about those issues.

RW: It kind of makes me happy to say that we've been able to play at the Women's March. We've done a number of different fundraisers; raised a bunch of money helping at the fundraiser for the Harbor House. Different stuff like that that meant something to someone.

EO: We try at each gig, that even if it is for our own personal expansion, we try to mention at least one or two things (that the audience) can do to help out. We also played the election night party. Even though it was after the elections had happened, we still had places and information for people to register for next time. Some people may have been, like, "Wow, I really missed the ball on this one, but seeing all these people involved, I really want to get involved now."

It's important, on fronts like that, not to forget about what you're doing, even after it's over. That's what we're focusing on: to completely change the way people view political landscapes. Keep people involved and not just the two weeks before election day.

Was there some sort of trigger event for either of you in your lives that led you to get involved or was this something where maybe you go to college and started looking at things going on around you and said, "I wanna do something about that. I don't want to be voiceless."

RW: I was in a weird place in my life for a really long time, and I was able to get out of that place. In doing so, I started to do all of the things that I used to tell myself that I could never do. That was the initial reason that I started this band: to help people see that they can do those things, too. For themselves.

What's been the reaction (from) people … maybe sometimes you're playing a benefit, maybe sometimes you're just at a gig. How does that sort of go over? Cause it's a testy thing to approach.

RW: It is kind of interesting. We did play a show once and someone left a negative comment about our band on a review or something like that of the bar that we had played at. The owner of that bar posted it on Facebook, defending us, saying that we weren't there with negative commentary about anything. We were there simply to say, "Hey, this is our band. We like to talk about these things to help our community." I ended up tagging our band (in the post) and we got probably 200 or 300 likes that day for people supporting that.

OE: For one one-star review, you get 200 likes on Facebook, that's what they tell you.

RW: (Laughs.)

That's a nice equation.

OE: I wish it worked out like that.

Have you also seen the other side of it where maybe somebody doesn't necessarily agree with something that you're expressing, but they still want to come and have a civil conversation about it?

OE: I feel like they approach me more with the debate than they do Roni since she's a lot of fire to handle.

RW: (Laughs.)

OE: I have, after shows, people have come up to me and said, "Why did you feel the need to talk about that?" I honestly told them, "This is our outlet and this is how we choose to talk about it. Other people can talk about this stuff in their day-to-day life. This is how we choose to talk about it." Some people talk about it through their paintings, through their ….

RW: Through their Facebook posts.

OE: Yeah, people can sit and post all over Facebook about it, so why can't we write songs about it? That's basically how I (handle) that with those people. And we do encourage active dialogue. We encourage people to come and have conversations with us. I think that is part of what happened at The Elbow Room that night. You had said, "If somebody disagrees, we're going to talk to you." Somebody disagreed, but they didn't come to talk to us in person. They thought it was necessary to reach out on the Internet. Which is fine because they helped us out in the long run.

Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.