Chemistry has never been an issue for Good English's Rasmussen sisters. While teenagers, the Dayton-based independent rock trio built a steady Southwest Ohio following. With an ever-expanding fan-base, the band is now headed to the 2015 Nelsonville Music Festival.
Reminiscent of a steadier Patti Smith (or a slightly less sentimental Chryssie Hynde), Good English is guided by Liz Rasmussen's robust voice. As the eldest sister, Liz was born to lead the Dayton-based troupe.
"I started playing when I was in the eighth grade," says Liz. "After a week of summer cheerleading camp, I decided playing an instrument would be fun, and chose guitar. Around the same time, Leslie decided she wanted to play drums. Celia had been playing cello in the school orchestra for two years, so our parents decided to go out on a limb and buy her a bass guitar. From that moment on, it was natural for us to want to play together."
Through their teenage years, Good English slowly morphed into a rock band. While the sisters range in age from 19-23, they have nearly eight years experience performing with one another. It's an oddity. As a band, they're sage beyond their years.
But it wasn't all sunshine at the Rasmussen household. Good English's early years were often wrought with trial.
"We had the foundation of a band so it just made sense; however, because we were all still learning how to play our individual instruments, learning how to play songs and work together as a band was challenging. There were many unsuccessful band practices and mini meltdowns," says Liz. "Just at the right time, Hauer Music (a longstanding Dayton music store) was offering 10-week sessions for music students looking to play with a band. We decided to try that out to teach ourselves, in an instructed environment, how to play together. After two 10-week sessions, we decided we were able to form our own band. Thus, Good English was formed."
From the Rasmussen living room to the 2015 Nelsonville Music Festival, Good English has had quite a journey. I had the opportunity to speak with Liz about the past, present, and future of Ohio's finest family band.
Leo: What artists have had the biggest influence on your life?
Good English (Liz Rasmussen): Growing up we listened to a lot of the bands and musicians our parents listened to: REM, John Prine, Counting Crows, Talking Heads, Joan Osbourne, to mention a few. When we started playing our instruments, we were heavily into Green Day. They are probably the reason we decided to start a band. As we've grown, artists such as Yeah Yeah Yeahs, My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire, the Decemberists, St. Vincent, Wolf Parade, Them Crooked Vultures, White Denim, War on Drugs, Tame Impala, and countless others have had anywhere from major to minor influences on our music. We like to think that we take something from every band we listen to and somehow fit it into our song... That makes it incredibly hard to define our sound.
What's the biggest challenge to being in a band with your sisters?
The biggest challenge is probably finding the happy medium of being sisters and band mates. It's so easy to make our relationship with one another all about the business, so sometimes it makes it hard to just be sisters. Honestly though, being sisters has helped us grow the band because the majority of the decisions are unanimously agreed upon because we are so similar.
Who are you most excited to see at Nelsonville Music Festival?
We are extremely excited to see as many of the bands as we can at Nelsonville. The entire lineup is incredible and we are so honored to have been asked to play. If we have to choose, we are insanely excited to see the Flaming Lips and St. Vincent.
What does the future hold?
The future is looking very exciting! We currently have a slew of local and regional shows coming up the next couple of months. We are hoping to garner some industry attention in the near future and get on a label. We'd love to play more festivals and are currently booking our next tour that will take us over to the West Coast. We don't have any intention of stopping until for whatever reason it 100 percent isn't possible. The band, the music, and all the wonderful people we've met have kept us going, and we can't wait to grow and continue our efforts as far as possible.