Locals: Brandon McMaster steps to the fore with Former

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

Prior to launching Former eight months ago, singer and guitarist Brandon McMaster contemplated leaving the music industry altogether.

In the years prior, McMaster, 28, logged time in various pop-punk and screamo bands, functioning as a guitar player and primary songwriter, though he gradually grew tired of penning words for someone else to deliver.

"I got into this funk where I was super depressed and I was sitting there by myself and it was like, 'What do I do? Do I quit playing music?'" said McMaster, who joins his bandmates for a concert at Double Happiness on Friday, April 8. "I felt like a puppet. There's a line on ['The Dangers of Growing Up,' the title track off Former's debut EP] where I sing, 'I love the way it feels to tear your strings out of me,' and that's where that comes from. I felt like a puppet for so long, just writing what other people wanted me to write. I needed to express myself as an artist, because I wasn't getting what I initially played music for, which was that release."

That release arrives like a surge of water from a collapsed dam onThe Dangers of Growing Up, an angst-ridden, six-song explosion where McMaster delivers lines about struggles with alcohol ("White knuckle the bottle!" he howls on the tempo-setting "Inside Out"), self-loathing, and, on "Something More," crushing depression that threatens to rip him apart from the inside.

"I wrote that one in a period of complete darkness, when I was at one of my lowest points," said McMaster, who moved to Columbus from Orlando, Florida, six years ago, and attributes some of these mental struggles to seasonal depression that rises to the surface each time the temperature plummets. "When you get in those deep periods of depression, if you don't realize what's happening and try and fix it, then it's just going to get worse. It's something I've learned to deal with."

Musically, the songs mirror McMaster's raw-nerve vocals, building around thick, gnashing guitars, forceful bass and arm-cramping drums. Unlike the frontman's previous bands, which, at times, prized musical complexity, Former prefers to keep things as stripped-down and exposed as the emotions conveyed in the songs.

"I spent so much time trying to add so much to a song - so many parts and so many notes that don't need to be there - and then with 'Inside Out' it was one riff, three chords, and it turned into my favorite song on the EP," he said. "My old band, it seemed like every song was some contrived love song. This time around I said forget all that and finally started writing the music I wanted to write."

Double Happiness

6 p.m. Friday, April 8

482 S. Front St.,

Brewery District


Also playing: Feverwar,

Ever Burning Bright,

Denihilist, The Dogmatik