So you’re finally in college, and after 12 years of being classically trained on the piano, you finally want to be the Ezra Koenig you always knew you were. For the musically inclined, this new chapter in your life is a great time to finally round up people who also think their goal aesthetic is acoustic covers of T-Pain songs. But how does one go about doing this? Starting college is hard enough, let alone starting a musical endeavor. To help get the band back together, Pipe Dream has tracked down and interviewed some members of Binghamton University’s student bands. Hear how it’s done from those who have managed to break into the scene at BU.
Pipe Dream: How did your band form?
Daniel Muller, a senior majoring in computer science, of Pelican Milk: “[The] band pretty much formed naturally, as Sam, Dan and myself were all new members of WHRW at the time that just wanted to mess around and make some music. Dan was my roommate at orientation and we bonded with each other over our common interest of Weezer … me and Dan started messing around, just bass and guitar in his dorm room, and occasionally people knocked on the door and told us we sounded good.This gave us the thought that we can maybe turn this into something. After a while [third band member] Titus, Hart’s roommate, would come into the room and join in on guitar with us. He showed us a few songs he wrote back in high school and we exchanged ideas. We heard about Battle of the Bands at Bing and decided we would try that out.”
Allie Young, a junior majoring in English, of The Three 4s: “The Three 4s formed because each member met separately through coincidence. Our guitarists, Joe and Eric, actually met me because someone yik-yaked about the drummer I lived next door to and then stopped by my room to ask if he was any good. When I told them I wasn’t sure and asked why they were curious, they told me they needed a drummer and singer for a band. And then I joined in.”
Owen Aust, ‘16, of Future Pussy: The radio station [WHRW 90.5 FM].
Corey Rando, a senior majoring in English, of SICKRAT: “Me and AJ (the guitarist) met last year and played music together, and eventually his playing style shifted, and I brought my drum set up, and it all kind of happened from there. Eventually we added a much needed bass (Erik) and solidified ourselves as a band soon after that.”
PD: How often do you guys practice?
Dan Hart, a senior majoring in electrical engineering, of Pelican Milk: “It ranges a great deal. We only practice when we have a gig coming up, which there have only been two [of] so far in the two years we’ve been a band. So when we do practice, it’s about two hours a week together and then everyone practices their parts separately, and then after we play the gig we go about a year and a half until we decide, ‘Hey we should play again’ and then practice again.”
Dan Kadyrov, ‘15, of LED Effect: “In the beginning we would practice regularly for three to eight hours a week and then have our sets (2-3 hours each gig). So we were spending around 10-12 hours playing with each other weekly.”
PD: What kind of opportunities are there for emerging bands in Binghamton?
Dan Kadyrov: “For any musician there are so many opportunities in Binghamton. There are open mics all the time in various bars and cafés that are open for all forms of music. Late Nite also gives a great opportunity for students on campus to get experience playing in front of a crowd. Binghamton is great because you’re an email or phone call away from having anything happen. Also it’s an amazing feeling to get paid for doing something you love to do — in my case, playing lounge jazz.
Allie Young: “As more bands start up and network, I think we’ll start to see more live gigs Downtown. Right now it seems the best thing a band can do is play at house parties, get gigs Downtown, and try out for Battle of the Bands. That competition is the reason we were able to perform at Spring Fling and fund our EP.”
Daniel Muller: “For bands on campus, there are the occasional late night gigs, open mic nights, WHRW, BUMP [Binghamton Underground Music Presents] or other club events, and the battle of the bands in the second semester. Practicing on-campus is also pretty much impossible if you have a drummer. As many bands know, there is no easy way to get access to a drum set unless you know a guy who has one on campus, have access to Fine Arts, or know someone off-campus who will let you practice at their place.”¶
“If you’re off-campus, band life is much easier. You can be as loud as you want, not having to worry about an RA, and even perform at various friends’ houses. The best way to get known off-campus is to ask around and play at a bunch of house parties. Although the gig won’t be paying, maybe in free beer, you will get your name out there. As far as making money, you can always ask restaurants and venues to play, and make money from entertaining or a cover fee. Play free for friends though since we are all poor college students.”
PD: What advice would you give to students interested in starting a band?
Allie Young: You have to make sure each member has the same objective for what he or she wants out of the experience. Some people might just be looking to jam out and pass the time, and others might have hopes of perusing the music professionally. You also have to communicate like crazy and really understand each other. If you don’t, that will negatively show through your music and your performances. People want to hear and watch musicians who are not only genuinely enjoying themselves, but also naturally connecting with the audience through that joy. Don’t be afraid to throw your music in people’s faces to get it out there. Social media is a great place to network and learn. No matter how good you think you are, there’s always room to grow.
Daniel Hart: “My best advice for people is if they want to start a band, then start a band, stop asking questions and do it. If there are roadblocks, find a way around them, don’t get complacent. Our band has explored the whole Fine Arts Building and have practiced in the Anderson Center Concert Hall late at night when we lived on campus. Make connections with people and groups, don’t sit on your ass and complain, and pursue it … at the end of the day, just have fun. Everyone will be too drunk to care if you screwed up the solo to ‘3’s and 7’s’ and just played random ass notes, just sell it.”
Daniel Kadyrov: “My advice is to play as much and with as many people as you possibly can. Get out of your comfort level and play genres you aren’t comfortable playing, songs you don’t know and musical keys that you hate.”
Corey Rando: “Make sure you have the right match. Sure, identifying your sound is one thing, and knowing your strong points and weak points is ideal, but a band is more than just performing live, it’s building friendships with these people and maturing as an artist. I would never join a band if I weren’t content with every member on a personal level. Sure there will be disagreements, but I’d never put myself in a position where I have other people relying on me and another person to cooperate who may not be on the same page.”
Owen Aust: “Don’t start a punk band and don’t suck.”