This piece was produced by a student reporter in the Madison365 Academy. To learn more or support our educational programs, visit madison365.org/academy.
We express ourselves in many different ways. Some do it with their hair, others do it with their clothes. Jim Zirbel, who prefers to go by “Zirbs,” is a Madison native, a musician and entrepreneur who uses music and poetry to express not only himself but others as well.
He had been writing songs for a while but had gotten tired of doing the same old thing. “I got tired of singing the same stuff over and over again. It wasn’t a challenge for me and it got boring”, he said. “I looked at what was happening in the music world. There’s a lot of different things happening and we had an idea that would be totally different that might create a whole new class of concert goers and listeners.”
So he created something new called Eur.Band. Eur.Band, which had its first show on June 8 at the Old Sugar Distillery, heralds itself as “the world’s first poetry slam band” The band has five set members and a musical guest for each show. Eur.Band uses original poetry from others posted on their website which then becomes a song and will eventually be played at one of their shows. When posting poetry on their website you are anonymous, which gives more freedom to write what’s true to you. Only you know that a poem belongs to you. When you submit poetry, you are also given a QR code made specifically for you that holds all your poetry ever posed to Eur.Band. Presenting that code at the show ensures that you’ll be able to hear their performance of you words.
“It doesn’t have to be massive. We’re not looking for the poet warrior.” Jim says, “It is the underground that exists in you and me and all of us.”
Zirbel is a very energetic and expressive person who talks with big hand movements. He says no one has done this kind of thing before “because it’s hard, it’s scary and it’s not for everybody.” Je continued with how he first came up with the idea which was about five years ago when he picked up a Wisconsin State Journal and placed it on his music stand and realized he now had found new content to write and sing about.
Zirbel says the band’s target audience is very broad. “We literally want everyone and anyone. We’re not talking about a specific demographic. We’re talking about anyone who wants what they have to say heard without the fear of being exposed. We thought we were going to see men and women from 21 to 30. There were a bunch of them but it wasn’t the dominant part of the crowd. A whole range across all the different ages,” he said. So, no matter how old you are if you have poetry that you want to share you are welcome
To follow that he talked about their goals for future shows, “Around 50 or 55 people showed up for the soft opening, next show we’d like to see a similar number” Zirbel said. “If you have something you just need to shed we encourage you to post and come to one of our live shows. It’s an incredible honor and a gift to be able to share these thoughts that people have and it just reminds us that we’re all thinking things we don’t necessarily tell others.”
One thing that I was very curious about and you may also be was why did they name the band Eur.Band well there’s kind of a funny reason as to why. “It’s because there is a mexican boy band called Urband 5 and my attorney said we couldn’t use that or you’re gonna get a letter from their lawyer”, said Zirbel. He and his bandmates did come up with other possible names, one of them was Brain Baby but they felt that would be confusing for others to understand so they stuck with Eur.Band. He then talked about the bands sound or genre that they stuck to when making music rather it was rock,pop, or hip hop, “We don’t do hip hop yet, we have to get better at it and I’m an old white boy,” Zirbel responded jokingly. “A lot of the times we sound like an indie rock band.”
To conclude the interview he said where he hopes to see the band in a few years, “The band will be going to different cities and playing their poetry and sharing our message to the world,” he said. “Here’s a way you can free yourself for one night and possibly share something with a thousand people.”
As you can see Eur.Band’s definitely something unique. They will put on a bunch of shows in July and August so go ahead and post your poetry and lookout for Eur.Band near you.