Columbia student leads ambitious band through Chicago music scene

By Louise Netz

Owen Misterovich, a freshman radio major, started a band in his Springfield, Missouri, basement with only one other musician, a guitar and a couple of drums during his freshman year of high school.

But as it says on Misterovich’s band Paddlefish’s website, “Eventually teenagers leave the basement and head off to college.”

Now, Paddlefish and is making its way through the Chicago DIY music scene with an ambitious attitude and a brand new lineup of musicians.

Misterovich writes most of the music and plays most of the instruments on the band’s most recent album. He also books their gigs and manages merchandise, he said.

Former member Zaida Wade said, “Without Owen, nothing would be done.”

Paddlefish has played about 100 shows around the Midwest and released its sophomore album Spill Me! with High Dive Records Aug.17, Misterovich said.

The original group included some of Misterovich’s high school friends—Blake Nieman on bass and Anthony Clark on drums. Zaida Wade joined as a second guitarist a year later despite her limited experience with the instrument.

“I had little experience in playing guitar prior to joining,” she said. “I kind of just learned as I went.”

The band earned recognition after it was was invited to open for a Springfield local group, Someone Still Loves You Borris Yeltsin. Misterovich said he was only 14 years old when the band debuted in front of nearly 300 people.

“It was insane,” he said. “It was honestly the most fun I ever had.”

Misterovich brought the band’s concept with him to college and decided to find new members. The new three-piece lineup includes Misterovich, Missy Farrell, also a Columbia College student, on drums and Solomon Kimrey on bass.

Misterovich said the new lineup is very different, but has helped the band progress and develop a fresher sound. “It has become a new thing—a new style of it,” he said.

Liam Lynch, a freshman filmmaking major and Paddlefish fan, said he was impressed after seeing them play live. Lynch said the band sounds as if the members have together for years, even though most of the members are new.

“When [Misterovich] plays his guitar, it’s like he’s in his element,” Lynch said.

Lynch said Columbia students should be impressed by Misterovich’s attitude and work ethic.

“He has a professionalism about him,” he said. “He isn’t waiting for anyone to show him how to get there.”

Misterovich is optimistic about the band’s new lineup and what the future holds for them. He plans to take the band on tour in December and work on a new album next summer. “It’s totally like the next generation, next version of Paddlefish,” Misterovich said.