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Peoria punk rock trio Engine Huey on their first album, and songwriting inspirations

Cory Edwards, Jacob Lara and Travis Yearian of Engine Huey.
Holden Kellogg
Cory Edwards, Jacob Lara and Travis Yearian of Engine Huey.

Engine Huey is a Peoria-based punk rock trio, formed in 2018 out of jam sessions and playing open mic events. The group consists of guitarist and vocalist Travis Yearian, bassist Jacob Lara and drummer Cody Edwards. The group plays a self-described blend of punk rock with elements of blues and grunge music.

The group expressed a passion for playing high-energy live shows, consisting of both original material and covers played in the group’s fast-paced stylings.

“It’s a lot of motion, you’ve gotta be interesting, you’ve gotta have fun,” Yearian said, expressing his goal to create a high-energy presence during the group’s live shows, “It’s just gotta be something you love to do. We’re definitely a live band, and we do some studio recordings and we try to get our music out there, but we definitely like the live action.”

The group also recounted the recording process of their first album, “Tight, But Whole,” which the group recorded over two days in October of 2021 with recording engineer Steve Albini. Albini has worked with many notable acts, such as The Stooges, Pixies, Mogwai, as well as producing Nirvana’s third and final album, “In Utero.”

Yearian and Lara both shared stories from their experiences in working with Albini, highlighting the amount that they learned about the music industry and the processes behind recording and releasing an album.

“When we pulled up, I did not expect this, when Steve came out, he helped us load in, and I looked at Jacob, and was like, ‘Steve Albini just carried my guitar in,” Yearian said, recalling his personal experiences in working with Albini. “He was very knowledgeable and very to the point. Not a lot of small talk.”

The group’s first album not only sees the group display their energetic punk rock sound, but also tracks that range from slower, psych rock-inspired jams to a bluesy track that tells a story based on historical events, a song named “Murder Trust.” The song takes inspiration from the real story of a group plot to murder Michael Malloy in New York during the Great Depression.

“About seven to eight business owners collaborated to kill this man for insurance money, and they couldn’t do it,” Yearian said, recounting the numerous failed attempts at Malloy’s life, “they finally put him in a motel and killed him, and the two years later, his body was exhumed and they found he was murdered, and all those people faced trial, and they were called the ‘Murder Trust.’”

The track “Fly Away, Go Away” sees the album slow down, and the song reflects more personal experiences within the lyrics.

“I’m sure just like every other human being, we’ve all felt uncomfortable in certain situations,” Yearian said, illustrating how the song was born out of the common experience of feeling trapped in uncomfortable encounters or spaces, “sometimes it’s with a partner, sometimes it’s where you’re at, sometimes it’s everything,”

The group is currently working on writing material for their next album, as well as playing more live shows. For more information on future show dates, sign up for updates and to listen to their first album, head to Engine Huey’s site.

Holden Kellogg was an audio producer at WCBU.