Sound Source: Corn on My Dinner Plate makes music about love, change and vulnerability

Daniella Tello-Garzon, Reporter



Tune into the latest episode of Sound Source to hear how five high school friends created a band that has more than 17,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Corn on My Dinner Plate discusses love, heartbreak, their songwriting process and the meaning behind their band name.

COLIN KOLASNY: I think people respond to vulnerability. When you let someone see that you’re actually struggling or that you’re actually doing great, you just let someone see what you actually are. I think people like that.

[MUSIC Move Along]

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Daniella Tello-Garzon. You’re listening to Sound Source, a podcast tuning into music on and around campus. The song you’re hearing is called “Move Along,” by Corn on My Dinner Plate.

CHRIS SÁNCHEZ: My name is Chris Sánchez, I’m the drummer in Corn.

COLIN KOLASNY: My name is Colin Kolasny, and I’m the keyboard player and songwriter for the band.

[MUSIC Move Along continues]

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Corn on My Dinner Plate is an indie band based in Chicago that started with a group of five high school friends who just wanted to play music together. Aside from Chris and Colin, the band also consists of bassist Roan Quinn, keyboard player Branden Ma, tenor saxophone player Weber Anderson and guitarist Jack Harris. Back in high school, the group didn’t take things too seriously, hence the silly band name, Corn on My Dinner Plate. The name started with a picture of corn on a dinner plate that a former singer and songwriter in the band sent in their group chat. Years later, the band’s humor has stayed the same, but their craft has evolved.

[MUSIC Shrug]

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Corn on My Dinner Plate is a very close group, and they thrive off being together. But the journey to becoming the close friends they are today has been a long one.

COLIN KOLASNY: Our first live performance was at our friend Delaney’s birthday party, her 18th birthday party in high school. And it was at a friend’s house who was known for throwing these crazy parties that would have live music and live DJs. And so that was our first performance as a group.

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Colin Kolasny is one of the original band members. Today, years after their first performance, some of the original members have left, and there have also been new additions. One newcomer was Chris Sánchez, who took the place of Jeremy Adams as the band’s drummer.

COLIN KOLASNY: The original drummer of the band, Jeremy, started getting really focused and making great progress studying physics and studying fusion, and it really started to take up a lot of his time. And I felt that I really wanted to take this in a really serious direction. I really wanted to meet other musicians ready to dedicate their careers to this. But yeah, at that point, he was going to be gone for the summer and we just were like, well, we need a drummer. And Roan introduced us to Chris.

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: After Chris joined the group, Colin’s friend from St. Olaf College, Weber Anderson, accidentally joined Corn on My Dinner Plate as a saxophonist.

COLIN KOLASNY: I met Weber at college and he was in my college group Ointment Appointment. And then he kind of just sort of, like, joined Corn on My Dinner Plate as well, so he’s in both bands. There came a point when Weber was, I think, like, “Hey, am I in this band?” And I’m like, “Yeah, of course, what are you talking about? We’ve been playing together, haven’t we?”

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Chris and Weber’s first live performance with Corn on My Dinner Plate was two years ago at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. To this day, Chris cherishes the memory of that performance.

CHRIS SÁNCHEZ: There’s a lot of beautiful musicians there. And it was really good to see everyone there and meet a lot of different people. We really bonded there musically on that stage.

[MUSIC Filibuster]

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: The song you’re listening to right now is called Filibuster, and it is from Corn on My Dinner Plate’s first EP, “Ears,” which they released in 2017.

[MUSIC Filibuster continues]

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Colin wrote the song about his first love.

COLIN KOLASNY: I wrote the song when I was sort of feeling in love for the first time in high school. And it’s just such a warm feeling, to have that, but I was feeling you know, at the same time, sort of this anxiety about its fleeting nature, like it wasn’t gonna stay around forever. And I knew that. That feeling was giving me all this, like, conflicting energy in my body.

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: As Joey Bada$$ would say, “Love is only a feeling.” But it is a feeling that many of us can relate to, and the raw vulnerability of expressing that feeling, and expressing feelings in general, is something that Colin believes attracts listeners to his music.

COLIN KOLASNY: Well, I write a lot about love. And I think what I try to do is when I feel stuck emotionally, or like there’s not really a light that I can see, I try to repurpose that feeling into words and into poetry and into music and sounds and into art in general. But what I really feel good about after writing a lyric is that I’ve taken an emotion that’s in my head and given it form, so that I can then have something to look at and to freeze that feeling in time. And then it’s real.

[MUSIC She’s Fine]

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Beyond the lyrics, Corn on My Dinner Plate has a very personal songwriting process. Distance and the pandemic have resulted in a lot of remote rehearsals, but Chris, the drummer in the band, said being together in person is key to making good music.
CHRIS SÁNCHEZ: When everyone’s here, we really take advantage of that time and really sit down and have some fun while we’re at it, too, ‘cause that helps the music grow into what it is.
COLIN KOLASNY: When we’re all sharing space together and being in a place together that we can really let our music grow organically, that’s when the songwriting feels really collaborative.
[MUSIC Arizona]

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: One song that took shape with in-person collaboration is “Arizona,” which is the song you’re hearing right now. All six of the band members worked together and recorded “Arizona” as a group at JoyRide Studio.
CHRIS SÁNCHEZ: I constructed the beat for that song. It’s a really weird tune because it’s not like anything that you would hear on like any other Corn track. It was much more progressive. It’s fusion. But it also has some elements of rock to it. And like groove pop-ish. I did some auxiliary percussion on that too, which really added to that. Like the congas and the bongos and tambourines and shakers.
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: How did you come up with it?
CHRIS SÁNCHEZ: I played a lot off of what Colin was playing rhythmically. He’s playing a lot more upbeat music. And in my mind I just went straight to Herbie Hancock, Billy Cobham. Billy Cobham is a drummer that I love, I took major influence from him.
COLIN KOLASNY: Oh, yeah! I remember Roan creating his baseline too, which is like boo-da-doom (sounds out baseline). I think that baseline rhythmically sent me into an idea and then also rhythmically sent Chris into that kind of, like, straight groove.
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: The instruments in the song include electric piano, electric guitar, electric bass, drum set, tenor saxophone, two voices, congas, bongos, shakers and tambourines. On top of the instrumentals, the song also needed lyrics, which Colin wrote.
COLIN KOLASNY: I was thinking a lot about just how things are fluid in life. You know, things tend to just keep moving and flow one thing into the next. And that’s the space I was coming from writing about that. And then also, I was feeling a lot of like, maybe, pessimism or cynicism about the state of the world, too. But alas, things keep flying on.
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: What is a specific lyric that is your favorite?
COLIN KOLASNY: My favorite lyric in the song is, “If you return without a key, I would not be asleep.” And so I guess I’m just trying to comfort whoever I’m singing to, whichever listener, to say that, you know, I’m here for you. You can come. And even if you don’t have a key to unlock the door, I’ll be awake to open it for you.
[MUSIC Mi Alma Puede]
DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Today, Corn on My Dinner Plate said they‘re working harder than ever, and in five years they hope to be playing at Lollapalooza or Dillo Day at Northwestern. What you hear now is their latest release, a song called “Mi Alma Puede.” You can watch the music video for “Mi Alma Puede” on Corn on My Dinner Plate’s YouTube channel.

[MUSIC Mi Alma Puede continues]

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Daniella Tello-Garzon. Thanks for listening to another episode of Sound Source. You can find Corn on My Dinner Plate on most music-streaming platforms such as SoundCloud, Spotify and Apple Music. You can also follow the band on Instagram and Facebook using @cornonmydinnerplate to stay updated on upcoming live shows and merch sales. This episode was reported and produced by me, Daniella Tello-Garzon. The audio editor of The Daily is Will Clark, the digital managing editor is Jordan Mangi, and the editor in chief is Isabelle Sarraf. Make sure to subscribe to The Daily Northwestern’s podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud to hear more episodes like this.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @daniellatgarzon

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