by Brittany Nader
In the ‘90s, sounds from Northeast Ohio could be heard pouring out of television sets across the country — specifically those tuned in to MTV. From “Beavis and Butthead” to “120 Minutes,” local band Dink’s fusion of guitar-driven alternative rock and industrial hip-hop became part of the soundtrack of many Gen-Xers’ lives.
The band’s guitarist, Jer Herring, says his time in the Dink consisted of some of the highest highs and lowest lows as the group evolved from a significant part of the NEO music scene to a fixture on the spectrum of national performers.
“We went from playing houses in Akron to playing on top of the Capitol Records building,” Herring says. “When you have a good band, stuff like that happens. We got our lucky break. It felt very surreal.”
After Dink disbanded in 1998, Herring remained active in music, forming Full Wave Rectifier a year later. Driven by influences from Pixies, Hüsker Dü and Minutemen, this new project centered on up-tempo guitar riffs, fast-paced punk rock beats and poppy vocals. The band, consisting of Akron-based musicians, was a fixture on the local scene until 2010 when Herring packed his bags and moved to North Carolina.
Full Wave Rectifier held its farewell concert at Musica five years ago, but Herring knew deep down that geography couldn’t come between him and the familiar faces he enjoyed playing with. The band will return to the venue August 7 for a special reunion show, featuring Herring’s current project, Go Go Hero, along with longtime pals and show mates, Peep.
“I planned a trip to Ohio to visit family and friends, and I got it in my brain that we needed to have a reunion,” Herring says. “Peep was the first band I thought of to bring on board with us.”
Herring’s ties to the musical Midwest have influenced his work throughout his journey in music. In fact, when he first formed Go Go Hero in the 2000s, he recruited Akron-based bassist Tim Prentice to join the group, fusing the sounds he grew up with in Ohio and the southern aural experience he had been saturated in since moving to North Carolina.
Herring points to differences in his home state’s musical atmosphere compared to his current locale, with crossover scenes happening in Northeast Ohio cities but not so much in the South.
“I was born and raised in the Midwest, and I think location permeates my music,” Herring says. “It’s a subconscious kind of thing. I’ve developed a different sound since moving, and [Go Go Hero] has been trying to get in front of fans who listen to stuff in the same neighborhood.”
He hopes the upcoming reunion show in Akron will bring in both old friends and new fans. He expresses a bit of nervousness about getting together with his former band mates, but he says he’s excited to stir the pot and show people what they’ve got cooking nowadays.
Go Go Hero is surely climbing the ladder of success, with legendary producer Mitch Easter having a hand in the production of the band’s sophomore release. Easter is noted for his significant work with R.E.M., Pavement and Ex Hex, and his influence is clear on Go Go Hero’s recorded alternative music.
The band’s sound is certainly reminiscent of ‘90s alt but with a crisper, more experimental modern twist. The blend of North Carolina influences with Akron’s own punk rock musical history is evident on the release, resulting in an upbeat, melodic experience.
Herring admits he’s been listening to some hip-hop again — the sound that inevitably influenced his work with Dink, as he was heavy into Beastie Boys and Public Enemy at the time of the group’s rise to fame — inspiring more funk and beats-driven material with Go Go Hero.
A documentary on his work with Dink was created by a local filmmaker in 2012, stirring up all kinds of memories and allowing Herring to recognize how special the dynamic has been in his most recent musical projects.
“In Go Go Hero, there’s lots of collaboration. We’re all navigators, since we’ve all been leaders in previous bands,” Herring says. “Everyone is enthusiastic about the ideas that get tossed around. That’s not always the case in bands.”
From Dink to Full Wave Rectifier and Go Go Hero, Herring and his band mates have made a significant mark on Northeast Ohio’s music history. Focusing on guitar-based melodies and bringing in a diverse range of influences has given birth to distinct sounds spanning the past two decades and lingering on throughout Akron’s airwaves.