Nenycz: Soldier, musician
American soldier Jerry Nenycz has been known to swoop in stealth-like, with his guitar in-hand, capture your undivided attention and disarm all potential naysayers with his heartfelt original tunes and self-styled cover songs.
And if, in this endeavor, there are any unforeseen complications — which are always a possibility — he will simply employ his secret weapon. One boyish grin from Nenycz, who seriously resembles an Army Ken doll, and mission accomplished. He quickly wins you over with a song and a smile.
Local entertainer, SSG Jerry Ivan Nenycz, who performs his music under the pseudonym JIN, has been playing guitar and songwriting since his college days. His first instrument was a “cheap Yamaha” purchased for him by his mother, years prior, that he still proudly holds in his possession. While music has always been a passion and of great interest to him, he recognized early on that, for most, it is likely an unwise career-path.
He says, “We didn’t have a lot of money and I had to work hard for what I had.”
When Nenycz could no longer afford college, he became almost cynical about what the future may hold in-store for him. He recalls, “I was working third shift as a temp, for 7 bucks an hour, doing the worst work they had in the factory. I wanted more out of life than to just get by.”
Resisting human nature to merely settle-in and take what life circumstances had handed him, Nenycz made a choice that changed his life forever. He enlisted for military duty and in a swipe of a signature was being sent off to a much less favorable environment than even the local factory. At the age of 23, unworldly and a bit green, Nenycz found himself in Afghanistan. He claims, with believable enthusiasm, that it was, “…one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.”
Music became a primary focus, and useful distraction, for Nenycz while he spent time overseas. He says, “I remember buying a $99 guitar and having it shipped to Afghanistan. I would play and my buddy, who was a drummer, would bang on anything he could find with his sticks.”
Nenycz humbly confesses, “I’d always wanted to perform, but I was so self-conscious. When you are deployed, sometimes all you have is time to think. I swore I would at least give it a shot [upon returning home], despite my nerves.”
Nenycz’s connection with music grew as he become reliant on the comfort it brought him while he was in Afghanistan. Nenycz reflects, “As a soldier, there were times when my family either couldn’t be there or I didn’t want to put the burden on them, so I would find my respite in music.”
For three years, Nenycz was in a Long Range Surveillance Unit and is airborne and air assault qualified. Also while in Afghanistan, he earned a Combat Infantryman Badge. When finally he returned to the states, financially stable and physically unharmed, his beloved companion guitar did not have the same good fortune. He says with a laugh, “It made it through the whole deployment but it couldn’t survive the U.S. Postal Service. I was going to toss it, but my brother saved it and now someday I want to restore it. It has sentimental value.”
Once back from Afghanistan, and living in Plymouth, Nenycz stayed true to his personal vow. Eventually he built up the courage, with the help of supportive friends and family, and found himself up on stage performing at an open mic night. He has not quit his job with the Army National Guard just yet, but has since added singer/songwriter to his resume.
Nenycz recalls, “When I got home, I had a lot of songs sitting in my head and I started to get a little more serious.”
JIN, or Nenycz, plays an acoustic rock and claims to have been influenced by artists such as Matt Kearney, Incubus and Third Eye Blind, to name only a few. He is currently a solo act that can be caught all around town: Opie’s, The Brass Rail and The Dandelion Bar are all locations he plays. He also performs at several clubs in the South Bend area. JIN has played with, and opened for, a number of musicians in recent years, including local favorite Alligator Blackbird and The August of Nashville. He says that he continues to expand his style and is constantly evolving.
Nenycz explains, “I like writing songs that tell you something you already know, or have felt, and make you think about it from another angle. I don’t aim for the whole cookie-cutter pop song thing,” and cleverly adds, “but a good groove is a good groove.”
Nenycz has an unassuming manner and an obvious depth of character that is reflected through his music, and seemingly his life choices. He magnetically draws you into his experiences with his lyrics and catchy melodies to match.
He says, “I have met so many amazing people. I have found that there really are a lot of people that appreciate music and want something original but more importantly something sincere. I am humbled by the people I’ve met… I’m really excited about the path my music has taken me down so far.”
JIN has quite a few songs that could be deemed a ‘good groove’.
“Why would you not,” the first song Nenycz ever performed on stage, and “Uniform” are songs that were written around two years ago and “during a time of high emotion”. “Just Say’n” is Nenycz’s most popular song, at the moment, with his greatly growing fan-base. JIN is hoping to release a CD sometime this spring but currently you can enjoy all of these songs and more at www.facebook.com/JINBAND.