Pipe Dream sat down with Under the Sink, a student rock band that performs frequently on the West Side of Binghamton. The band is comprised of Lila Pomerantz, a junior majoring in graphic design, who sings and plays guitar and bass, Nick Van Deusen, a junior majoring in systems science and industrial engineering, who sings and plays bass, Charles Speciale, a junior majoring in graphic design, who plays guitar and Ryan Land, an undeclared sophomore, who plays the drums.
Pomerantz, Van Deusen and Speciale discussed Under the Sink’s origins and music with Pipe Dream.
Pipe Dream: What were the band’s origins? How did everyone meet?
Charles Speciale [CS]: I guess me and Nick have known each other since middle school.
Van Deusen [ND]: We played some music on and off together in high school. Remember Mistle Tones? Valen Tunes?
CS: Yeah, we used to go classroom to classroom during the holidays and play songs to people on request to fundraise for the music department. I would play the world’s worst renditions of Christmas carols on a crappy plastic string guitar while people sang.
Lila Pomerantz [LP]: Did people like it?
CS: I don’t think so. So yeah, Nick and I have known each other for a while. Lila and I met freshman year when I was coming back from guitar club.
LP: It was a chance meeting.
CS: And then we played guitar in each other’s dorm rooms every once in a while. And this year …
VD: You approached me at the end of last year about maybe doing it.
CS: Yeah, because Lila’s always been talking about being in a band as long as I’ve known her. And then I’ve been putting together these shows and I’ve got a drum set so I was like, ‘Fuck it, we’ll have a band.’
PD: How would you describe your music? What bands inspired you?
ND: Rock covers. I don’t know how to describe it. Definitely Red Hot Chili Peppers, because that’s how I learned to play the bass. Struggling to try to play their songs. And also I really like Chris Cornell. So yeah, Soundgarden [and] Audioslave inspired me.
LP: Absolute batshit insanity. You couldn’t handle it. You don’t want me to talk about it. I would say I learned to play lead by listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s songs. Sublime. Music of all sorts.
CS: It’s really just a collection of different stuff we all like because we do it for fun. My playing is mostly blues-inspired.
LP: Same here.
CS: My dad had a framed picture of Buddy Guy in the basement when I was a kid. It’s still down there. Brant Bjork and Jack Wilkins are two big inspirations in very different ways.
PD: What was the best show you ever played?
LP: The first one.
CS: First one.
ND: Oh yeah.
CS: Yeah, that was a great show. A 5 Jay [St.] show.
ND: We set off a fire alarm because people kicked up so much dirt.
LP: That was crazy!
PD: What is your favorite song you’ve performed?
ND: “1979” [by The Smashing Pumpkins]. Or “Heaven Beside You” [by Alice In Chains]. Maybe “Territorial Pissings” [by Nirvana].
LP: I think “Heaven Beside You.” It’s so crunchy. We have good chemistry on it.
CS: I like “Black Magic Woman” [by Santana]. That’s the song where when we hit it, we hit it very hard.
PD: What makes your band different from other bands?
CS: We cover a very wide variety of stuff.
ND: We have a very casual approach to music. Most of the time it’s not very serious. Hanging out, playing music.
PD: How do you balance being in a band with being a college student?
CS: I don’t.
LP: I don’t either.
ND: It sucks. Speaking of which I have to give a presentation at 9:30 in the morning tomorrow.
CS: It is currently 1:41 in the morning.
ND: Let’s go.
CS: I think there’s definitely sacrifices you have to make, especially for me because I do a lot of organizational stuff outside the band. Ultimately you only have so many hours in the day. You have to give up something for something else at some point.
ND: You might as well make it for the stuff that’s fun and that you enjoy and take a little bit of a grade hit.
PD: What are your plans for after college?
LP: Be famous and rich and live in a mansion in the middle of the countryside away from everyone.
CS: Hey, that’s my dream. You stole that from me.
LP: You told me that today.
ND: Get a job in engineering. I don’t really know what I want to do yet.
LP: All I want is to find what I want.
CS: I’d love to open a venue.
PD: Do you think Binghamton has a rich music scene, especially for student bands?
LP: Yes, because of [Speciale].
ND: Literally because of you, Chuck. You’ve caused a boom.
CS: No. No.
ND: I’ve only heard [of] KWK because they live next door to me and started throwing shows. And then I heard about [Speciale’s] shows and after that, I feel like there’s a million different concerts happening each weekend.
LP: This was not a thing until this year.
CS: I can’t really speak for before [COVID-19] but it’s definitely on the up and up. We’re getting there. It’s probably richer for student bands than it is for local bands even.