After Judo finish their long ride home to ‘Harvard Ave.’


Morgan Cusick

After Judo performs their new single ‘Wanna Love’ at Hippodrome. The band soon after won first place for Best Musical Variety Act.

From Shocker Hall to Shocker Studios, After Judo has been working nonstop for two years to get to where they are now. The release show for their debut album, Harvard Ave., is Thursday at Ellis Street Moto.

After Judo is comprised of Joe Hagan and Ryne Carballo splitting guitar and vocals with Flavio Pérez on drums, An Nguyen on bass, and Rob Mabrey on trumpet. Hagen recorded, mixed and mastered all of the songs on the album at both the band’s home studio and in Shocker Studios.

Hailing from very different parts of North America, After Judo is a melting pot that came together at WSU. Carballo and Mabrey were roommates in Shocker Hall their freshman year, where Mabrey recalls them nearly starting a “two-kidney band.” They would have two musicians and one kidney each — a gimmick they would rely upon because it wouold take selling kidney to make a career as a musician.

Carballo and Mabrey met Hagen, who lived at Shocker Hall and Nguyen, who attended the Judo club with them. They met Pérez through posting a flyer on campus. Coincidentally, he also worked at Shocker Hall, even though he didn’t live on campus.

Nguyen starting learning to play bass a year and a half ago because After Judo was in dire need of a bassist. Pérez had only played drums for four years before jumping in the studio, but he states that finding After Judo put him with “the right place and the right people,” to complete an album.

“I’m from a very small town in a different country,” Pérez said. “I came from the third world to the first world not knowing English. But I already knew how to play music, so that was a language strong enough to communicate with people.”

“As far as our musical vocabulary and the unspoken conversations we have through music, I think we just work so well together,” Hagen said.

“Welcome to music 101,” Pérez interjected to the rest of the band’s laughter.

Once formed, After Judo would practice in their dorm rooms on B- One of Shocker Hall and the dorm stairwells. They eventually moved their practices to the basement of Duerksen Hall, where their first EP began to bloom. “The Black EP” was made up of two covers and two originals titled “Wanna Love” and “Lyin’ in the Grass.” The two originals have been completely reworked from their original rough state and are now revitalized for the new album.

After practice, After Judo would eventually make their way to their home studio on Harvard Avenue, where their debut album was conceptualized and recorded. The move from Shocker Hall into their newfound home spawned new music in and of itself, as if the bands was channeling the spirits hidden in the walls their new home.

“If you think of the house as looking, and all the walls having eyes, the house knows more about us than we do,” Hagen said.

The songs from “Harvard Ave.” have been in a constant state of evolution for two years, band members said. Even though the album is comes out Thursday, Carballo said that they are “still perfecting the sounds we recorded in the studio.”

“It’s showing in our live sets,” Carballo said. “The album is a snapshot of what we were in the moment.”

In order to exemplify that, the album art is comprised of a film photograph of the place the band dwelled when these recorded versions of the songs were actualized. The “Harvard Ave.” house is a family home of Carballo’s that his grandparents once lived in.

“The craziest thing is it was uninhabited four like four years,” Hagen said. “It’s literally across the street from campus.”

“They could have been bankin’ on some college students but they didn’t and they hooked us up,” Hagen continued, looking to the floor. “Rest in peace, John Eastburn.”

Among the countless takes per song and Carballo’s recollection of the “hours of endless soloing that was never used,” many of the band’s fondest memories of creating the album were ditching class to practice and making Kwik Shop runs for late-night recording fuel.

Upon the mention of their “cover band past,” Nguyen is the quickest member to chip in: “I wasn’t there for that.”

The rest of the band assures me that those days are long gone.

“The album is just a culmination of everything we’ve made up until now,” Carballo said. “It’s literally home grown. Everything about the album is us.”

“It’s so fulfilling to have something that we put percent of our effort into,” Hagen continued. “It’ll be interesting to see what our next 100 percent sounds like in the next couple of years.”

From “Snowed In” to “Breakin My Heart” to “Lackadaisical,” nearly every member of After Judo has a different favorite song from “Harvard Ave.” After all, this album defines the previous two years of their college days.

Asked what their “thesis statement” for the album would be, Nguyen was again the quickest member of After Judo to reply. He looked me directly in the eyes and summed it up in one simple sentence.

“It’s good to have friends.”