A Collaboration in Music Between Two Friends

By Marah J. Morrison

Chris Yannon, a 2018 graduate from Youngstown State University and a vocalist, guitarist and bassist, recently released an EP self-titled “Paul vs. Mark” alongside his friend Billy Liber.

Paul vs. Mark is a melodic, alternative rock band from Cleveland, Ohio. The band’s music maintains a catchy, melodic sound while dealing with somewhat darker conceptual issues.

Yannon said he never liked the idea of naming the EP after himself. He said he wanted to give it more of a band name instead.

“The name of the band is a movie reference,” he said. “I was actually in a band years ago [that was] a hard rock band. This music is somewhat lighter.”

Yannon said he always had ideas of music floating around he liked but didn’t exactly fit in with the band he was in at the time.

He said he hung on to those ideas, and a year and a half ago he had downtime to resurface his ideas.

“Some [tracks] are from five years ago,” he said. “I put together around eight and honed down to five and recorded those.”

Yannon said he has been playing guitar since he was 12 years old, and if he had to narrow it down to one person who influenced him to pursue his music, it would be Kurt Cobain, the late frontman of Nirvana.

“The idea of playing guitar was always cool to me,” he said. “I always had an inborn gravitation towards music. I liked music so much I wanted to learn how to make it myself.”

Photo courtesy of Chris Yannon

Yannon said the music business in general has major problems within, which is common because people in the industry are trying to combine business with an art form, two things that normally do not mix.

“The other side of [this] though, it’s been a lot easier to get your stuff out there,” he said. “With YouTube [and] the Internet, you can get your stuff out there way easier and build a following in Ohio [and] out in California without traveling out there,” he said.

Yannon said as long as he can keep writing and putting out music, he is happy, and he would like his reach to expand over time, but it’s more of a personal fulfillment than wanting to get rich and famous.

“I just graduated from YSU, so I am pursuing a career in school counseling,” he said. “It’s a long shot and it’s a lot of work, but it’s not impossible.”

Liber, who frequently harmonized with Yannon and does back up vocals, said they haven’t collaborated on anything official since 2012 and 2013. He said it was exciting when Yannon asked him to be part of his recent project.

Liber said close to a year and a half ago, Yannon moved back to Ohio from South Carolina, where he was teaching guitar and working at a music shop. He said in the past year, Yannon asked him to collaborate with him.

“To circle back with Chris and join forces again, it’s been really rejuvenating and [an] exciting experience,” he said. “I love writing music with him. He’s my best friend.”