Spring 2018 Stories The People

How to Start a Rock Band

Featured image courtesy of Model Rockets.

By Katlyn Kritz

Ever wonder how a famous rock band got its start? Youngstown musicians Fletcher Dunham, Jesse DeLorenzo and Scott Erb give their best advice on how to get involved in the music scene.

Fletcher Dunham is the vocalist of Model Rockets, an indie rock group that originally was called Colorblind.

“We had all performed together before and decided to make music together again,” Dunham says.

The members were in high school when they formed the group and didn’t have a clear idea of what they wanted their sound to be like. In the end, Model Rockets decided to take an indie sound with influences in that genre.

Dunham says the hardest part of being a musician is finding balance. Most of the band is still in school or has freshly graduated.

“Sometimes it’s hard to find time to write [music] and record too,” he says. “We’ve typically been really good at making the band a priority without taking away from our other responsibilities.”

Dunham says another challenge of being a musician is building a fanbase. He says it’s hard to reach new ears beyond your social circle, both digitally and at live shows. The best advice he could give to musicians trying to get into the scene is to network and have a constant presence on social media.

“Be a cool person to everybody,” he says. “If you’re genuine and fun to be around, people will want to come see you and then venues will want you to play there.”

Jesse DeLorenzo, drummer of Highland Rose, says there wasn’t much trouble in developing the band because he and the guitarist were already in a band prior. The trouble came in keeping members.

“We’ve been through several bassists, and that is always hard to deal with,” DeLorenzo says. “That person becomes your friend and you don’t want them to leave your band.”

He says being in the music industry requires a lot of dedication. This doesn’t just include dedication to the music, but all aspects of it, such as media presence, stage presence and recording.

“Real bands in the music industry are there because they’re professionals on all levels,” he says. “You have to strive to be as professional as possible.”

While the band has never been on a formal tour, Highland Rose has traveled all over Ohio and Pennsylvania. They have even stopped in Florida for shows. DeLorenzo said Highland Rose has played over 200 hundred shows since 2014.

“We have a really good following in Akron,” he says. “We’ve chipped away at it and now people new and old always come out to our shows… It seems like someone new always wants to come see Highland Rose.”

DeLorenzo says his best advice to someone trying to start a band is to find skilled musicians who they connect with. He says you have to stay positive, work hard, play what you play and always keep getting better.

“The world needs more musicians,” DeLorenzo says. “Just spread love wherever you go and love your instrument.”

Photo by Kim Bongingsegna

 

DeLorenzo says one thing to avoid in the music industry is promoters and companies who treat bands poorly. He recommends to always get background information for shows and do your homework.

“It’s important to know your worth,” he says. “Playing a show should always leave you feeling good. It sucks when you leave a show bummed out.”

DeLorenzo says some of his favorite memories of performing were when Highland Rose had the opportunity to open shows for nationally known bands. He says they opened up for Puddle of Mudd at The Odeon in Cleveland several years ago.

“Just last year we opened up for Mr. Big at Jergel’s in Pittsburgh, and the venue treated us really good,” he says. “The crowd was so awesome.”

DeLorenzo says travelling with your friends and spreading the music they’ve created is what makes being a musician rewarding for them.

Scott Erb, sophomore in environmental science, has been playing music since he began learning trumpet in fifth grade. His interest in music from that point developed into his guitar skill.

Erb says throughout high school, he had been a part of three projects and is currently developing a new band. He says the greatest challenge is finding time to practice.

“Having three or more college aged adults with jobs and social lives makes it difficult to find times when everyone is available,” Erb says. “Playing the music is the easy part.”

Erb says finding the right bandmates is extremely important, because if a band doesn’t have good chemistry, it could turn into a bad experience. He says he has worked with very difficult bandmates in the past that made the profession horrible.

“I look for musicians who listen to each other because I think that’s the most important thing in a band or any relationship,” he says. “Without good communication, it’s doomed to fail.”

Erb says his fondest memory of performing was when his band played in 2015 Tri-C Rock Off.

“My band played a battle of the bands at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” he says. “I will never forget looking into the crowd and seeing people singing the songs along with me.”