East Lansing teens see new album streamed thousands of times
EAST LANSING – At first it might not seem impressive that the band Cross Eyed Strangers has played the East Lansing Art Festival and its new album has been streamed over 3,000 times on Spotify.
That is, until you find out all the band members are East Lansing High School students, including senior vocalist Wes Millhouse, 18, who’s been writing music since second grade; senior guitarist Ty Morrison, 17; junior drummer Alex Arnold, 17; junior bassist Nick Langford, 16; and junior guitarist Rowen Blesing, 17.
“Not very many people our age are doing what we’re doing,” Millhouse said. “So it’s pretty special and I know people are starting to take more notice, but I’ve been doing this my whole life.”
Cross Eyed Strangers formed in 2019, and since then has released three albums, multiple singles and gone through different lineups as some members have graduated and moved.
The band’s fourth album, “Mr. Conman,” is now available on all streaming services. East Lansing High School alumni Thomas “Tomo” Hanley on drums and Jeremiah Liggett on bass also contributed to the album.
As of Thursday night the new album had been streamed more than 3,400 times on Spotify after less than a month and the band had 216 listeners on the streaming service, Millhouse said.
Cross Eyed Strangers plays a blend of orchestrated alternative rock, incorporating elements of the band members’ wide-ranging influences. Classically trained, as well as versed in jazz, folk and rock, band members combine those styles with insightful lyrics to produce intricate, thought-provoking songs, according to the band’s website.
“The genres are kind of all over the board, but it all feels like Cross Eyed Strangers,” Millhouse said.
Cross Eyed Strangers has played festivals, including Pumpstock Music Festival and East Lansing’s summer concert series, and at venues like Mac’s Bar in Lansing before it closed and the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, where the band will perform Feb. 26.
The high schoolers were pretty happy to play an East Lansing festival, period, and when they found out they could get paid $500 or more to perform it was, “whoa,” Millhouse said.
It’s really cool to get up on stage and get paid to have fun, Langford said. Morrison added that it feels like people really appreciate what they’re doing.
“We love to play music,” Blesing said.
The band practices in the Millhouse family’s East Lansing basement, where Millhouse has a computer set up for editing music. Various band posters hang on the walls, including The Beatles, Bob Dylan and several of Jack White, Millhouse’s biggest musical inspiration growing up.
The teens said what sets Cross Eyed Strangers apart from other high school bands is the amount of work they put into their music. Leading up to a performance they rehearse every night and Millhouse has been working on “Mr. Conman” for more than a year, he said.
“We’re all pretty serious musicians,” Arnold said.
While the rehearsals leading up to shows can be really stressful, the bandmates say they are respectful to each other and coming together to do what they love.
“In the end we’re all friends,” Morrison said.
People can also find Cross Eyed Strangers’ music on Apple Musicand YouTube. People can follow the band on Facebook and Instagram.
Contact Bryce Airgood at 517-267-0448 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @bairgood123.