"Those Are Your Friends,"- An Interview With Opt Out

Interview by Kyla Wyllie
Photography by Annika Cimas

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Whether or not you think everything happens for a reason, we think local rock band, Opt Out, is an example of how one event can lead to something bigger. “None of this would have happened without a lot of mistakes, I was in percussion class by mistake, but if that hadn’t have happened, I wouldn’t have met Kyle and we wouldn’t be in Opt Out together,” says Shin Chung, bassist for the trio. Kyle Bozykowski, the drummer, adds “Shin and Ryan (lead guitar and vocals) were already friends - then I was in percussion class with Shin and he asked if I’d want to jam with the two of them sometime.” Just like that, three promising young personalities got together and created something people would know them for in the coming months.

Mistake or not, the three boys definitely click, both on stage and off. “Shin and I consider ourselves performers because we'd always be getting in trouble in the classes we have together. We just do stupid stuff. We definitely love being the center of attention!” Ryan Barnes exclaims when we comment on their energy. This rambunctiousness shines through on the Soma stage; getting the crowd pumped is what Opt Out was born to do. “We like to bring the energy even more than the music,” says Barnes. When they play a show, one thing setting the boys apart from the rest is their stage presence, which floods the entire room with infectious animation and moxie. 

“In all honesty,” Shin says, “we like writing songs and we like performing on stage, but as a band, instead of focusing on making the songs perfect, we focus on just entertaining the people there,” he explains to us, as Kyle adds “I mean - and playing good, too!"

Take my word for it - these three do so much more than “play good.” There’s no denying they have musical talent. “Our songwriting is progressing as we continue, so I definitely think we have room to grow and write some more complex material. Our first song that we wrote, ‘Just Go,’ is four chords, but everyone loves it for some reason. So we’re going to start writing more complex stuff, but we still want to keep to our roots of being ‘simpletons.'” Ryan says. Kyle briefly comments on this, saying, “we just haven’t found that right sound that fits us.” However, with the help of the SOMA scene, they’re slowly but surely finding it, guided mainly by Ross Martin from Essex Class, and Pat Collins from the late Snykes, who are constantly supporting and mentoring the band, and encouraging them to “expand their horizons". 

With music, there’s a constant absence of the “behind the scenes” assistance. The people supporting and helping musicians are practically non-existent in the eyes of the viewer, especially outside local music. "There’s such an innocence and purity to local music,” Shin says. “You see these celebrities and they’re just strangers to you. You don’t know who writes the music, you don’t know anything like that. But when it comes to local music... those are your friends, those are your neighbors, those are your brothers and sisters up on stage. It’s just that much more raw in local music.”