Local music fans recognize Andrew Sayne as the primary six-string voice of two popular long-running Knoxville outfits, patchouli-scented rockers Grandpa’s Stash and Pixies-flavored four-piece Madre, of which Sayne is a founding member.
But for some 10 years now, Sayne has also been quietly producing, and sometimes releasing his own solo material under the name MEOB, an acronym for “Man-Eating Ogre Boy.”
The moniker is an old nickname, given to him by a friend in recognition of his considerable stature. “The pronunciation is up for interpretation,” Sayne says, with a laugh that quickly belies any notion he is, indeed, a cannibalistic meanie.
Now, with both Madre and Stash on hiatus, Sayne has opted to put MEOB on the front burner, recruiting fellow Madre member Stephen Osborne to hold down bass duties, and gamenight frontman Josh Manis to man the drum kit.
“With Madre, we’re all kind of taking a breath, taking some time to do other stuff,” Sayne explains. “And I have all these songs I’ve been working on, or else holding inside me for a while now. Some of them were written years ago, and some we’ve worked up in just the last few months.”
This isn’t the first time Sayne has played under the guise of MEOB. The project has seen a trickle of releases online through the years, and every so often, Sayne has performed full MEOB shows with “a revolving cavalcade of friends.”
In February of 2015, though, he spoke to longtime partner in crime Osborne about the possibility of making the project a full-time endeavor, at least for a while. The choice of Manis to round out the lineup was an easy call, gamenight having frequently shared local bills with Madre, and the members having established lasting friendships.
But adding Manis also meant that MEOB featured two veteran lead singers, neither one of whom will actually be the lead singer when the trio takes the stage. “We do a lot of harmonies,” Sayne chuckles. “We have two other lead singers, and they’re too good not to have them doing something.”
As for his own efforts as a frontman — heretofore limited to MEOB’s infrequent shows and releases — Sayne says he’s finally finding his stride on the mic. “It was definitely a challenge, being the guy who steps up to the font,” he says. “I’ve always been a decent singer. But in the last year, I’ve really found my voice, so to speak.
“I’ve come to understand how I want to emote and enunciate my words. I’ve come a long way in being more comfortable up there.”
Right now, there are a couple of MEOB’s latest tracks available for perusal on the band’s SoundCloud page, pre-release demos of a full-length album Sayne plans to release along with Manis and Osborne. He describes the tracks, somewhat cryptically, as “fresh, but familiar… something you’ve heard of, yet maybe haven’t really heard before…”
“One of the things that has come out of our playing together is the sense of dynamics involved in each song,” Sayne says. “We all like big, abrupt changes in songs. We’ve got some parts that are really heavy, almost punk-rock — heavier than anything I’ve ever done before. Then we also have some pretty, quiet, jazzy parts. It’s a real mixed bag.
“A lot of the songs are very personal to me,” Sayne continues. “And they’re songs I’ve been actively holding back for a long time. It’s really fulfilling now that they’re actually coming to life. And with Josh and Stephen playing and singing on them, that’s made them even better.”