BenderWorld – from playing secret shows in dorm halls to their first EP

BenderWorld. Photo: Luke Merlino

“Our first show was at the dorm in the study area. We were like, ‘how are we going to sneak in a ton of people that don’t live here?’” recalls Lauren Juillerat, vocalist for the Reno band BenderWorld.

As they put the finishing touches on their first EP, Juillerat is remembering the early days of the band. Made up of five members who are current or recently graduated college students, Juillerat’s words mirror those of many young bands and creators who have come before, where a lack of funds forces them to become resourceful.

“We told everyone to stagger when they were coming in. The study room was pretty small, but we packed it pretty full of people and just prayed we wouldn’t get shut down!”

The project, now about a year and a half old, tends to find itself playing more established local stages, making usual appearances at the Holland Project or their upcoming show at Cypress in Midtown.

BenderWorld’s Davis Dunkley. Live photos: Shaun Astor

While Juillerat is the only Reno native, the band’s four other members – Davis Dunkley and Ryan Kowalczuk on guitars, Ben Luery on bass and Jack Barrington on drums – moved up from Vegas. Kowalczuk and Barrington had been involved in musical projects together since high school, and would meet the other members through different musician get togethers once in Reno. It was Juillerat’s initial connection to the group that seems the biggest combination of millennial serendipitousness.

“Yik Yak was an app that lets you post anything because you’re completely anonymous,” she explains.

“It was only for people in college, like anonymous Twitter for college,” Kowalczuk elaborates.

“I had just seen another band play with my friend, and it inspired me. I wanted to be in a band,” Juillerat recalls. “So one night I was just going to post on Yik Yak – no one knows who I am, I have nothing to lose. I asked if anyone wanted to be in a band or if anyone was looking for a singer. Ryan responded to me pretty quick.”

Members had met and been jamming over indie bands they shared a mutual interest in, and though she recalls being nervous almost to the point of shaking, Juillerat auditioned for the group inside the dorm halls and was the final piece needed for the band to take form.

Lauren Juillerat is all smiles at the mic

With influences traveling across the spectrum of indie, soundtracks and some punk – not to mention that Barrington also creates beats for other musical projects – BenderWorld has released several singles leading up to the forthcoming EP. The group’s first single, Dreams, meanders through a hazy jangle of guitars and bouncy drum beat. More recently, they put out a video for the song Red Lipstick based on a real life scenario which sees members of group upset at an acquaintance’s infidelities.

Of piecing the lyrics together, Juillerat mentions “I like to write lyrics is to listen to a song I like. The lyrics are nothing similar, but I’ll sing the same melody and write the lyrics and change and adapt them to our song. For Red Lipstick, I was in English class. I wasn’t listening to the lecture, I was listening to Blue Hair by TV Girl venting about the situation. After class, I texted the band and told them I’d written the lyrics to the song, it’s done.”

Ryan Kowalczuk

The song itself took some time to record, as different obligations made it hard for the five piece to all come together at the same time.

“The soundscape of the song changed over time,” says Dunkley, talking about the members’ tweaks on the song while waiting to be recorded. “We’d say, ‘let’s try a different pedal, let’s try a different amp, let’s try a different distortion.’

Ben Luery nailing the bassface.

Red Lipstick picks up cues from more explosive melodic pop punk bands like Paramore or Discount’s “Crash Diagnostic” era.

“I think that’s the one song that was really consistent in terms of structure all the way through. Once it was established, it was established,” Kowalczuk says of Red Lipstick. “I remember the first time I heard Lauren sing it, I got chills down my spine. That yelling part, I thought it was so cool.”

As of now, BenderWorld has been teasing the finish of their first EP. The group is also slated to play several upcoming shows in the area, including:

Tuesday, May 7th at Cypress.

Saturday, May 11th at the Holland Project.

Follow the group on Instagram or TikTok.

BenderWorld

ABOUT Shaun Astor

Picture of Shaun Astor
Shaun Astor cites pop music singers and social deviants as being among his strongest influences. His vices include vegan baking, riding a bicycle unreasonable distances and fixating on places and ideas that make up the subject of the sentence, "But that’s impossible…" He splits his time between Reno and a hammock perched from ghost town building foundations. Check out his work at www.raisethestakeseditions.com

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