Joe Gephart: Targeting axes, music, education, and fascinating hobbies

UI student Joe Gephart spans his time to fit music, axe throwing, movie watching, and education to make a name for himself


Tate Hildyard

University of Iowa student Joe Gephart performs at Gabe's in downtown Iowa City on Aug. 17. Gephart is a part of the local metal band NonGrata.

Ashley Dawson, Arts Reporter

Joe Gephart met his band members the same way every other heavy metal band meets — through Craigslist.

Just over two years ago, Gephart found an advertisement posted by members Greg Beaver and Mikey Swafford. Gephart responded and was eventually recruited as the lead singer.

The band is made up of four other members — Swafford and Brandon Kilcoyne on guitar, Beaver on drums, and Matthew Hepworth on bass. After about three months of playing together, the band decided that it was time to name their group.

The naming process took roughly two weeks. Originally, their name was Persona NonGrata, which is the legal term for an unacceptable or unwelcome person. Unfortunately, this name was already taken by a few other bands, so the members shortened the name by cutting out Persona, and merging Non Grata into one word. Thus, their official name was born: NonGrata.

Gephart’s songwriting process starts out by letting the instrumental members write their part, then he listens to the music and writes lyrics to fit.

“Once we have a pretty good outline of the lyrics, we go back, and we add all the bells and whistles,” Gephart said. 

NonGrata has been working on new music, and will release a fresh EP called Ashes this fall.

NonGrata doesn’t take up Gephart’s entire life, however. He also has his education to focus on, as he’s planning to graduate from the UI in December.

Gephart will have a teacher’s certificate, a bachelor’s degree in history, and a minor in sociology.

Aside from music and education, Gephart finds time to participate in his interests and hobbies and also works a job within his field of interest.

Gephart has worked at Hatchet Jack’s in Iowa City for a year and three months after receiving contact information from a former teacher to the axe-throwing studio.

“Axe throwing is a hobby that I’ve had for a long time, but it’s only become an actual sport in the last few years,” Gephart said. “I grew up doing it in my grandparents’ backyard just for fun, and now I compete in the leagues. I actually just got to throw in the U.S. Open in Des Moines, which is a pretty big deal.”

Another one of Gephart’s hobbies includes watching movies.

“I love watching movies. I love movies,” Gephart said, “I kind of interpret movies the same way that I interpret music. Movies and music are very big for me.”

Although Gephart’s time at Iowa is coming to a close in just a couple of months, he has worked hard to create a name and a life for himself in Iowa City and as a student.

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