IN2ITIV3 is making waves as a musical embodiment of the growing punk/hip hop crossover in Cincinnati’s local music scene with their debut self-titled EP. Featuring bandmates that listen to everything from B2K to Patti Smith, IN2ITIV3 settles on lyrical rap infused with punk rock instrumentation – but they are not Rage Against The Machine.
“I’m not even a quarter as good of a guitar player as Tom Morello, so it’s not that,” jokes the band’s vocalist and guitarist Kelby Savage. Violinist Frankie Strings, drummer Ezra Plymesser, and bassist Max Vignola complete the quartet. They’ve coined their unique sound “punkadelic rock,” and even more than creating warm waves of party-ready tunes, IN2ITIV3 is the natural next step for a city with both thriving and experimental hip hop and punk scenes.
“Hip hop and punk music have always kind of been in the same scenes, like in New York, in a lot of the early scenes,” says Savage, who is also behind the local Punk Hip Hop Show series. “A lot of the punks go to the hip hop parties, a lot of the hip hop kids go to the punk parties. It’s starting to make that change here now.”
That change comes with curious and open-minded artists. Thankfully, hip hop as a genre, as Savage points out, has never been one to box itself in.
“We have psychedelic influences, punk influences, and hip hop, but what makes it hip hop is that hip hop is a conglomerate of genres, so it’s hip hop by default,” he explains. “I love trap, but that’s the most overdone style. So, just take a little bit of this cadence and then put it with a punk rock beat and make something completely new, to where people are like – this is something different.”
A non-formulaic sound, however, isn’t easily earned. Savage explained over the year-long IN2ITIV3 recording process, the band used hour-long jam sessions to experiment with riffs and potential melodies. It’s also IN2ITIV3’s debut effort, so rather than collaborate with other artists, the project aims to cement the band’s own distinct sound.
“We had to tighten up our sound and just really get that solid unit working… If we do [work with features] I wanna do something unique,” he said, pointing to the likes of BADBADNOTGOOD and Free Nationals.
Moving forward, IN2ITIV3 plans to release a single called “The Moon” in April.
Savage has been making music for over a decade, crediting Jimmy Hendrix as his guitarist icon and also boasting a dexterous rapping flow. During the course of our interview, he reminisced about opening up for Twenty One Pilots back in 2009 in front of 60 people at a local coffee shop.
“I saw them kind of become the band that they are today,” he said of the Columbus-bred duo.
With IN2ITIV3 now rounding their two-year mark, Savage is glad their debut project has finally come to fruition and that fans are starting to come around to their uniquely engaging style.
“Where you say loss, I say learning experience,” he said of his career philosophy. “They’re both L’s.”
Stream IN2ITIV3 below.