A messy house the morning after a party was the beginning of a joke between two friends and became the eventual name of their band. In the summer of 2020, Paul Guardiola, ‘21, lived with his friend Andrew Ajaka, a senior majoring in theatre. One day, the duo found leftover, half-full Genesee beer cans from the night before and began using the phrase “breakfast beers.” When the friends wanted to form a band the following summer to play at Porchfest, they playfully chose Breakfast Beers as their band name.
Sofia Fasullo, a senior majoring in geography and statistics, was the final catalyst for Breakfast Beers becoming an official band after Guardiola, Ajaka and another band member were writing and playing music together, but the ball really got rolling after moving in with Fasullo, who sings and plays the bass and guitar in the band.
“With social gatherings starting to pick up around summer 2021, we started getting more involved in the music scene in [Binghamton],” Fasullo wrote in an email. “After Porchfest we were asked to play at local gigs and from there we just kept going!”
Breakfast Beers began covering songs for their performances before they finished their original music. Their talent is due to the members’ early introduction to instruments and performance, but some of them transitioned from classical backgrounds to punk and rock music only recently.
“I’ve always been remotely involved in music,” Ajaka wrote in an email. “In middle school I picked up the violin and guitar around the same time, learning silly little AC/DC solos on my guitar from YouTube videos but focusing primarily on my violin playing. It wasn’t until last year that I really started focusing on my guitar playing and practicing a bunch.”
Darren Valdera, 20, of New York City, plays the guitar and piano and contributes to the vocals for Breakfast Beers. He hopes to add the drums to his repertoire, but his musical experience began with his school’s orchestra as well.
“I’ve been involved with music since middle school,” Valdera wrote. “I joined the orchestra and played violin and then quickly learned ukulele and guitar afterward. I pretty much fell in love with music then.”
Fasullo began with clarinet and orchestra in school but learned guitar through YouTube tutorials at 13 years old, and began playing the bass last summer. Guardiola picked up the drums and guitar in the last few years but was also involved with music since high school. Their longtime passion, dedication and practice shine through in their stellar performances and songs.
The band now consists of around nine people who perform and contribute to the songwriting process, a situation they consider to be highly collaborative. A large number of members and various musical backgrounds allow the band to highlight different writing styles and draw inspiration from a wide range of artists.
“Breakfast Beers has a very eclectic range of influences, but we are inspired heavily from Midwest emo bands like Mom Jeans, math-rock bands like Pool Kids and some shoegaze,” Fasullo wrote in an email. “We are always getting new ideas from the awesome local bands in the Binghamton/upstate [New York] scene like the Droogz, Bunk, BUG and many others. Maybe we would describe our style as bubble grunge, which probably leaves you as confused as we are about that label.”
Their Spotify profile, which features their two original songs, “Loch Ness Monster’’ and “How Come? (Come Down),” describes the band as a “nine-ish piece punk band based in New York.” In the bio, it says, “WTF IS BUBBLEGRUNGE?” Based on the selection of covers they choose to perform and their two singles, perhaps bubble grunge can be described as something similar to pop-rock or indie punk.
“We started as a cover band, but always have been working on original songs,” Guardiola wrote. “We just wanted to have fun playing music we love and didn’t want to wait for us to have to write it. That being said, we’ve been working hard on our original music and it’s really rewarding now being able to share it live and with everyone on streaming.”
Breakfast Beers’ singles reminded me of Mom Jeans, Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Backseat Lovers and Cage The Elephant, which are some of my favorite bands at the moment.
The first song Breakfast Beers released on Spotify, “Loch Ness Monster,” features Fasullo as the lead singer and takes a slower pace than their second single. Fasullo enters the song with an alluring and hauntingly beautiful voice as a guitar is strummed in the background. More vocals and instruments join in and the song speeds up as Fasullo delivers powerful belts. Fasullo is proud of “Loch Ness Monster” and appreciates the positive feedback she has received on the song.
“It’s a song that still helps me in tough times,” Fasullo wrote. “It’s personal to me because it involves struggling with depression in a kind of high-functioning way, like just having mental breakdowns because of schoolwork and then playing guitar to distract for a while and eventually going back to schoolwork, these moments that no one else would realize that I (and others) go through if it weren’t in a song because they thankfully don’t manifest in more damaging ways.”
“My favorite lyric is probably ‘Loch Ness monster in my apartment taking up space doesn’t feel good’ because it means different things depending on which word you focus on and because the idea of taking up space is so important and something we should all do,” Fasullo said.
Their latest released single, “How Come? (Come Down),” begins with drumsticks counting everyone in and Ajaka’s vocals against a quiet and upbeat chord progression on the bass. The guitar then joins in as the drummer picks up the pace. All the musicians then enter together, creating an explosion of music in the chorus and Ajaka sings cheeky and intriguing lyrics. “How Come? (Come Down)” is the perfect song to blast in the car with the windows down on a sunny day or to jump and dance to at one of Breakfast Beers’ backyard concerts.
The musicians in Breakfast Beers write evocative and relatable lyrics for their songs and fans can expect more brilliant lyrics in future songs as Valdera’s favorite lyrics are from unreleased singles.
“Favorite lyrics for me would have to be ‘Shit sucks but shit’s gonna happen to you anyway,’ from an unreleased song, ‘Bath Bomb’ and ‘Why do you gotta smoke weed,’ from ‘Stoner Girl,’” Valdera said. “Shoutouts to Andrew for writing those. The first one cause it just so true, you hope for the best and [prepare] for the worst. Life’s unpredictable and sometimes you gotta roll with the punches.”
The band has gigs lined up for May 11 and May 13, which is exciting news for fans of their past performances at Porchfest, the Bundy Museum of History and Art Annex and backyard and basement shows. Breakfast Beers have performed alongside some local and BU student artists, serving as inspiration for themselves.
“The local scene here is incredible, I come away from every show with something new to try or something to practice,” Guardiola wrote. “I get so much inspiration from seeing all these people doing what they love.”
While Breakfast Beers draws inspiration from other local bands, they hope to inspire the audience and leave them with a desire to engage in their creative side and express their authentic selves.
“A big thing for me is I hope people feel inspired to express their experiences after listening to our music, whether they get the urge to pick up a guitar or a pen or wear a new outfit or something,” Fasullo said. “The whole point isn’t to say, ‘I’m the person in the band and you’re the listener’ but that it’s a whole group shenanigan, and that’s the overall vibe I get from the Binghamton music scene, which is why it is so lovely.”
Fans who want to experience Breakfast Beers’ energy and shenanigans can stay updated with their new music and upcoming shows by following their Instagram, @breakfastbeersband