By Beth Casteel
Answering the phone with a quick ‘hello’ and ‘how’s it going,’ Jimmy Wilkens casually eases his way into a conversation about his life after graduation.
Graduating in 2015, Wilkens majored in Cleveland State’s management and labor relations with a concentration in human resources. Shortly after his graduation, he helped form a band called The Sonder Bombs.
“We formed in January of 2016 and at the very beginning it was just Willow [Hawks], the lead singer and I,” Wilkens said. “We met through a mutual friend, and I [saw] on her Facebook she had a video of this song she wrote called “End of My Daze” and I was just completely floored by it. So we did some talking and we decided to start jamming together and it just kind of started from there.”
After their formation, Wilkens and Hawks remained a two-piece band until finding their drummer and bassist. Now a full-piece band, the four have found a nice rhythm in the Cleveland scene as a “Uke-Punk” band, a genre they created because their sound is ukelele driven with a punk undertone.
With The Sonder Bombs keeping him busy, especially during the time he was a two-piece with Hawks, he has had to find a balance between his work and his bands. In addition to being the guitarist for The Sonder Bombs, he is also the drummer for another Cleveland band called The Scuzzballs.
The Scuzzballs, formed in 2015, is best described on their Facebook page as a “Garage Rock band with hints of Surf, Post-Emo, and Pop-Punk.” Forming the band with Arfil Pajarillaga on Halloween, the two played a quick set at Pajarillaga’s house show and then began working on their first song as a band called “Slump.”
While each band has a similar sound, Wilkens believes that each has their own voices. The bands have kept him busy and even though it’s been a challenge, he’s found a happy medium between the two, and he’s excited to see where the bands will take him.
Both bands are taking off and finding their own success. For each band, Wilkens is hopeful that they will be able to get their names better known outside of the Cleveland area and one way of doing so is touring.
Touring has been a major focus for Wilkens and his bands. Each are currently working towards branching outside of the Cleveland area. While they are still local, their plans of touring in other states will officially go into action within the next couple of months. For right now, each band of his is planning on taking a break to focus on writing and producing new music.
While his focus may be with his bands, he hasn’t forgotten what he’s learned at Cleveland State. Working from home, he got a job at a company called Shotfarm as an independent contractor. For this job, Wilkens formats basic product information which is essentially him taking what a client provides the company and formatting it so a retailer could then sell the product.
The job does take a lot of Wilken’s time, but the hours are flexible enough for him to where he can move his hours freely as long as it’s within reason. With such a flexible schedule, he has been able to balance his band and his new school schedule.
Deciding to go back to school, he is now going to Tri-C to get a degree in their recording arts program. While his time at Cleveland State helped him land a job and gave him skills that has helped him get great opportunities with his bands, he wanted to further his education by pursuing an interest he loves.
The recording and production aspect of making music is something that always interested Wilkens. After getting a drum machine in the 6th or 7th grade, he began programming his own beats and really liked being able to create his own music.
After realizing he could go to school for recording music, he’s now learning how to work in studios. Taking his interests and making a career out of them is something that he is excited about pursuing and he’s hopeful about his future.
“Whenever I’m not playing music, I’m typically recording music or at least studying it,” Wilkens said. “I would like to work in a studio or do something music related, so I’m going to pursue it.”
For More Information:
The Sonder Bombs, visit https://thesonderbombs.bandcamp.com/
The Scuzzballs, visit https://thescuzzballs.bandcamp.com/releases