On Tuesday, the band Organized Mess played a show at Harmon Park in Prairie Village to celebrate the release of their second album, Topography.
Next week, Organized Mess’s four SM East-graduate members will be heading to three separate cities. But that won’t stop them from continuing to write and play.
Since three members of the band — Connor Borgmier, Ryan Dugan and Mark Ronning — graduated from SM East in 2013, Organized Mess has perfected the art of collaborating remotely, pitching and fine tuning new songs despite the fact that they live hundreds of miles away. Ronning, who attends Kansas State University, and Dugan, who attends Macalester College in St. Paul, write most of the band’s songs. And after leaving northeast Johnson County, they discovered they could still get a lot out of the creative process even if they weren’t in the same room.
“We have these like one or two hour conversations on the phone where we tell each other what we’re working on,” Ronning said. “We’ll record samples on our phones and send them to each other.”
Ronning and Dugan first started playing together as fifth graders at Briarwood Elementary in 2005. A few months after first getting together, they asked Borgmier if he’d like to join.
“I remember we were at recess,” said Ryan. “We’d decided we needed a drummer so we asked Connor if he wanted to play the drums.”
“I didn’t really play the drums,” Connor said. “ It was just because I had a drum set. Which was my brother’s, actually.”
The group started getting serious as they entered middle and high school, and in 2011 they were looking for a bassist. Ronning and Dugan’s guitar teacher recommended another of his students, Caroline Roe, a fellow Briarwood graduate was a year behind the others at SM East.
By last summer, the group had enough experience and material to put out their first album, Blueshift. And even though high school graduation meant they’d be heading apart — Borgmier attends the University of Kansas, as will Roe — Ronning said the group never really considered breaking up.
“I don’t think it ever crossed our mind not to keep doing it,” he said. “It had been seven years into the project. We had songs we’d be writing and wanted to play gigs.”
You can check out the video they created for one of the new songs on Topography below. (Ronning’s brother David, an SM East senior, snapped the 2,100 photos they used to create the stop-motion effect).