After 26 acts submitted, it’s down to five. On the line: a one year recording contract with Emerson College’s student-run record label, Wax on Felt.
The Civil Slingers, Ripe, Heiress, A Guy Named Guy, and Micah Schure will take the stage of the Cabaret this Tuesday, when the Battle of the Bands returns after a two-year absence.
“The winning band becomes our first priority,” said Wax on Felt President Hailey Rowe, who went on to detail that the prize includes photoshoots, music videos, social media promotion, booking for events, and a full-length record.
And with five stylistically different bands performing, Rowe hopes the show “has something for every audience member.”
For Micah Schure, her bedroom is her canvas.
“I’ve written 15 songs, and I can only write at my bed in my house,” said Schure, a sophomore at Emerson who started to develop an interest in music-making very early in high school.
And her career thus far has been increasingly unconventional. For the Battle of the Bands, Schure found a group of Berklee College of Music freshmen jamming on Newbury Street and asked them on the spot if they wanted to form a band with her for the show.
Schure said she has been on the lookout for a band to accompany her solo act and simply worked up the nerve to ask them point-blank.
“I’m used to playing and singing pop acoustic songs because that’s what I was limited to,” said Schure. “But a band will make shows much more interesting.”
A lot of uncertainty still looms in the future for Schure since she doesn’t know if this new-found band will stick around or what genre she wants to settle with, but it doesn’t appear to faze her.
“I don’t think you have to be tied down, and that’s the exciting part,” said Schure.
For now, Schure will be showing off her singer-songwriter skills with songs like “Rebel” which has the laid-back coffeehouse vibe of an Alanis Morissette number.
Although Schure, like all the other bands, hopes to win the battle, she is also looking forward to leaving her mark on the Emerson community and having a lot of fun.
“I would still go even if I wasn’t in the show,” said Schure. “If people don’t go, they’re missing out on real talent.”
The Civil Slingers
Listening to current radio stations has led The Civil Slingers to the assumption that bands just aren’t making that good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll music anymore. And they’re hoping to change that.
“There’s really not that much rock in today’s popular music,” said Suffolk University freshman Joe Aaskov. “And that’s disappointment.”
The power trio also includes Emerson sophomore Mike Sampson and Suffolk sophomore Sean Taggersell.
The band sees the show as an opportunity to branch out from the more quaint locales they are used to playing.
“We’ve mainly played barns and biker bars,” said Sampson. “But playing in public is always fun.”
The bandmates all hail from Kennebunk, Maine and have known each other since middle school. But it wasn’t until last year that they became a band — and it happened very quickly. They’ve always bonded over their love of old-school rock like Johnny Cash, and they decided to put their mutual passion to good use.
“And within two days of our first show, we officially decided to go from guys who jam together to a legitimate band,” said Sampson.
“There’s something nice about the springtime,” croons Berklee freshman and lead vocalist Robbie Wulfsohn of the band Ripe in their song “A Sultry Spring.”
The verse perfectly encapsulates the easy-going ideals of the five-member Berklee band, all of whom are freshmen.
When writing songs, the band does not want to be a drag to their listeners. Instead, they want people to get up and groove to the music.
“I don’t like spending a lot of time talking about real life,” said Wulfsohn. “People need an escape with music — I’d rather make someone smile than cry alone in their bedroom.”
Ripe came together this fall as the band met through friends of friends and started jamming together at guitarist Tory Geismar’s apartment, which also doubles as their recording studio.
Wulfsohn is hoping that new car smell will not be too noticeable as Ripe makes their debut at Tuesday’s event. But even if they haven’t had as much experience as some of the other acts, their enthusiasm soldiers on.
“It’s our first show, our first audience,” said Wulfsohn. “It’s a night I will never forget whether we come in first or last.”
A Guy Named Guy
“Everybody sucks but me/I think I am the man,” shouts lead singer Dylan Zobel in A Guy Named Guy’s signature song “Ska’s Not Dead.”
And for this seven-piece ska collective up of sophomores from Berklee, they are hoping both Wax on Felt and the audience agrees with their song title declaration.
Julia Hoffman, who plays trombone, recalls she “didn’t even know what ska was” when she was first offered a spot in the band.
For those who may not be familiar with the genre, band manager and drummer Alex Pickert describes the band’s sound as “a mixture of Jamaican reggae and rock and roll.”
Of course, Hoffman now knows ska inside and out — the band has been together for over a year. And now that they are established, they are excited to extend their reach to another school and play the Battle of the Bands.
“We go into the show with the mindset of making sure everyone has a great time,” said Pickert.
Zobel, who also serves as the main songwriter, is also looking forward to enjoying the night of music.
“We are just in it for the fun,” said Zobel.
“And to win,” chimes in Hoffman.
Berklee sophomore Christine Moad is frustrated with the lack of women currently featured in the music industry. And she feels her all-girl group Heiress is the perfect counter to this lack of diversity.
“The music ratio is male-dominated,” said Moad, who plays bass for the band and serves as its manager. “And we are the increasingly rare all-girl band.”
But Moad stressed that Heiress refuses to rely on the all-girl angle as a gimmick. “We do not want to be known as an all-girl band,” she said. “Just a really good one.”
Songs by the group such as “Damn Well Please” and “The Fiction” paint the band as a bunch of heartbroken and pissed-off chicks. Heiress has the attitude and lyrics of artists like Adele but with a rock-edge. Moad credits bands like Pink Floyd and The Police as their biggest inspirations.
The band formed in September of last year when the girls decided to jam out.
“It all happened very fast, and the rest is history,” said Moad, who says she’s excited to introduce her band to a new community at Emerson. “We’re just really happy that we got selected and hope to get a lot more fans out of this opportunity.”
Wax on Felt’s Battle of the Bands will take place Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Little Building Cabaret.