Student spotlight: Nonessential Personnel

Student group navigates music in the time of COVID-19.
Photo: Victoria Moffat • The Sentry

genre isn’t essential with this band of new students

Nonessential Personnel is a group that has both ironically and certainly marked themselves as essential in the time of COVID-19. The band hails from California, however most of the members are now local, attending CU Denver. Ben Thuesen, both the vocalist and one of the guitarists, is currently still in California but has plans to move to Colorado soon and is pursuing a career in Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The rest of the band currently resides in Colorado and consists of three first-year music majors: Jesse Crone who plays drums in the band, Linus Flynn who plays guitar, and Jacob Montano who plays bass. 

The name, though ironic in the Age of Corona, stems between a conversation from Flynn and his father, “In famous bands the singer and the guitarist are the people who always get like the attention and no one cares about the drummer and the bassist, I was complaining to my dad and I was like, oh, we’re just the nonessential personnel of the band and then my dad was like that’s a band name….”

Nonessential Personnel has played and written music together for almost two years as of now, but most of the members have known each other since high school, mainly interacting through the high school’s music program where the idea for their own band began to form. Initially the group formed in 2019: junior year for Crone, Flynn, and Montano, and senior year for Thuesen. The plan was sprung after Crone, who Montano light-heartedly described as the “idea guy” texted Montano one night around 2 a.m. with the idea for the band, and thus, the story unfolded.

So far, they have had two releases, the first earlier this year on Jan. 31, with their self-titled EP and the second on Sept. 4 of this year with their full-length album Remain. The EP was majorly produced through high school, Montano described listening to the album as, “it sounds like a teenager thing… this is exactly what my childhood was, this is the second half of high school that we condensed into an album.” 

Although the two albums were both released in 2020, they vary within musical growth, production, and style. The biggest difference lies in production. With COVID-19 making its appearance early in the year, the group was suddenly unable to cram into Crone’s bedroom to work on songs and instead had to shift everything online and work on songs together from their own rooms. Each member would record their own piece for the decided song and upload it, then the parts would be mixed, mastered, and polished. Although, as Flynn expressed, “I would say if there’s a distinct progression between Remain and our self-titled EP, it’s that we’re doing the same thing but it’s just better—bigger and better.”

The bands elements in their music are more noticeably tinged in rock, however, the groups varying musical interests and histories all feed into their unique style of music. As Thuesen outlined, “[For the album Remain] we were using elements of The Weeknd’s music all the way to Avenged Sevenfold.”  Crone summarized, “All those various influences were coming together… all of that pushed together and it made this really interesting form of music that is hard to define—it’s hard to find a genre.”

Remain, in whole, successfully explores more elements than the first EP and appears a little more focused in sound, with passion from the first EP clearly transferring over and creating the same fervent energy. 

Even with COVID halting much of the industry, Nonessential Personnel still plans to keep the content flowing, and discussions for a third album float in the air. The band doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon and is steadfast in their bright future, as Crone detailed, “Finding the people who enjoy music as much as you do is something truly special and I don’t think I’d give that up for anything.”

This is a selection from the Sept. 30 issue. To view the full issue, visit:

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