Ax and the Hatchetmen Making Waves in the Indie Pop Scene
By Zoe Blakeman
One of Chicago’s more recent up-and-coming bands, Ax and the Hatchetmen, has captivated young and old audiences alike. The band is typically classified as Indie Pop but falls under the large umbrella of Indie/Alt music genres. Their fresh sound brings in younger audiences, while their classic roots connect them with older generations.
The band is composed of seven college students, Axel Ellis, Kenny Olzewski, Hunter Olshefke, Sal Defilippis, Phil Piestone, Nick Deputy, and Quinn Dolan, who are all from the Chicagoland area. The seven are packing their bags this summer and trekking across America in a van to bring their sounds to life.
The lead singers, Axel Ellis and Kenny Olzewski write most of the band’s songs. Although some pieces may come from musical inspirations, more often than not, they write songs based on personal experiences. Their longest song written by Ellis, Existential Crisis Pt. 1, is their most intimate. Ellis went through the typical teenage angst we all experience, from graduating high school to navigating his love life and trying to find himself.
Knowing the meanings behind their songs humanizes the band and allows the audience to connect on a deeper level. We all go through hard times; this group just decided to do something about it. Aside from Existential Crisis Pt.1, the band consistently comes out with new music ranging from an EP to singles, with their latest release being Utah with much more on the horizon.
They may not be a widely known band, but some songs, like Peach Trees and Grace, have over a million streams on Spotify. Each band member has different musical influences, from The Strokes to Hippo Campus to Mac Miller, making their sound unique. Although they take inspiration from some newer artists, it’s hard to deny the strong hints of jazz, blues, and California surf rock, especially in their song Mako, which their music heavily relies on.
Adding instruments like the trumpet and saxophone brings a new dynamic to the music and intensifies its uniqueness. The sheer size of the band also brings a more prosperous and profound level to their music. While more people may cause more chaos, it also creates a dynamic for intricate collaboration and musical discovery.
The group plays with a maturity most at their age couldn’t even dream of. The consistency of their music and being so young allows them to adapt to new trends and even set them themselves. Although they’re a verified band on Spotify and have a reputation to uphold, they’re just a group of friends at heart. They were goofing off on stage, telling jokes, and having fun with each other.
At their most recent show, they played an hour-long set at DePaul University, which was free to all students. The band was friendly and inviting as they spoke to the audience and asked questions wanting fan feedback. The show was lively and thrilling. The crowd was excited while they jumped around, dancing with new friends and screaming familiar lyrics. Most importantly, they were full of energy and constantly engaged.
The music tends to be lighthearted and easygoing, as that is the image the band is projecting. They keep their shows fun-loving and lively to capture and keep the attention of their many fans. It would be sufficient to say there’s never a dull moment with this group. No matter your age, you can find an Ax and the Hatchetmen song that gets you excited and wanting more.
Ax and the Hatchetmen are going on tour this summer! Make sure to check them out on Spotify, Apple Music, on Instagram @axandthehatchetmen, and look out for tour dates coming soon!
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Ax and the Hatchetmen, a seven-piece band from the Chicago suburbs is comprised of Axel Ellis (vocals/guitar), Kenny Olzewski (vocals/guitar), Sal Defilippis (vocals/guitar), Hunter Olshefke (vocals/bass), Nick Deputy (drums), Phil Pistone (trumpet), & Quinn Dolan (saxophone). They often deliver a blend of quasi-pop melodies mixed with flavors of Indie/Alternative Rock, Classic Rock, Surf Rock, Pop, Jazz, Blues, Folk, and Punk. They also like to party.