by Amby Sarabia
College life is not always easy. Aside from trying to find time for studying, writing term papers and working several jobs, not to mention personal time, some students and faculty have an extra commitment in their schedules – rehearsal time.
Jake Round, a sophomore political science major is a bass player and vocalist for the band The Renascent. Along with carrying 17 units, working 20 hours a week and playing on the football team, Round rehearses with the other three band members every Monday and Thursday.
“Its pretty rough,” Round said. ” But it’s easier to do something when you want to do it.”
Having been together for only a year, this punk band has performed a show once a week in the past few months.
Along with investing plenty of time in the band, Round and the other three members, John Feliciano (guitar), Mikey Pettengill (drums) and Joel Urias (guitar and backup vocals), also put their own money into the band.
“It can be costly,” Round said. “I just spent $1,000 for new equipment, and it cost $600 to record the CD.”
CDs are sold through the bands Web site at www.therenascent.com and are given out during shows for free.
The money members spend can add up, especially since the band has never received money for performing. They recently played at Jerico’s Mile Sports Bar in Upland for free.
“We’ve never been paid,” Round said. “We do everything for free.”
The band, however, does not mind performing for free, because of the love for the music which drives them.
Eventually the band hopes to be signed to a label, but only under certain circumstances.
“If we were on a label, and it wasn’t fun, then I’d quit,” Round said.
“You have to be really skeptical when looking at contracts,” said Dave Forbes, senior business administration major and drummer for the band Adjacent. “It’s like signing your life to the devil.”
Forbes looks at performing as a way to expose the band rather than a means of racking in large sums of money.
“We’re not in it for the money,” Forbes said. “We’re just trying to expose ourselves and create a big fan base.”
Adjacent, which focuses on playing punk, as well as different styles of rock, consists of Forbes (drums), Brian Burns (vocals and guitar), Adams Plost (guitar) and Rudy Gomez (bass). All four had to balance a hectic schedule while trying to record their first full-length album six months ago, Forbes said.
“Even though it was hard work, it really paid off,” Forbes said.
While the band receives some money from its gigs, the members gave money out of their own pockets to pay for studio time and band merchandise such as stickers. The band’s CD and other memorabilia are sold at the band’s Web site, www.angelfire.com/punk4/adjacentrock.
Since Adjacent’s formation in 1999, the band has performed at the Boogie and Chain Reaction, both located in Orange County; Incahoots, located in Riverside and The Martini Lounge in Hollywood. Recently, the band performed alongside The Renascent Tuesday night at Jerico’s Mile.
Adjacent prides itself on its unique sound.
“Our music is absolutely original; every song is completely different from the other,” Forbes said. “We all come from different backgrounds, so we sound like nobody else.”
The members rehearse twice a week along with handling school and work, but the hectic schedule does not faze the members.
“Yeah it’s time consuming,” Forbes said. “But I love it. Music is pretty much my life.”
As if trying to handle school, work, personal obligations and rehearsals were not enough, some musicians have to work grading papers into their schedule.
Professor of Music Reed Gratz sets aside time to perform at local clubs and cafes. A jazz pianist, Gratz is an independent performer who displays his musical talents while teaching in the classroom.
After teaching, Gratz performs at private functions such as house parties and is scheduled to play at Casa De Salsa, in late April in Claremont.
A veteran performer who once performed seven nights a week, Gratz has figured out a way to balance his work as a professor and his work as a musician.
“After 25 years, you get used to it,” Gratz said, “especially when trying to teach an overload of classes.”
Gratz said performing is an essential part to his teaching, and the spiritual aspect of his life.
“I can’t imagine teaching without playing,” Gratz said. “It would be like leaving my left arm at home.”
The extra money also helps. Unlike bands who receive little to no money, freelance musicians such as Gratz get paid from $75 to $150 at clubs and cafes. Some larger concerts pay $100 to $500 to each musician.
“Performing plays an important part of my income,” Gratz said.
Once the University is released for summer break, Gratz will head over to the Netherlands where he performs with various groups. The break allows him to concentrate on his music.
Already producing three albums, which can be found on his Web site www.reedgratz.webs.com, Gratz does not plan to stop juggling his hectic schedule anytime soon.
“Playing benefits my life, spirit and the way I approach teaching,” Gratz said.
Michael Ryan is another professor who performs six times a week aside from teaching guitar classes at the University five times a week.
Also a freelance musician, Ryan plays guitar solo or with a group. He played his original music in the play “Liolà,” which the ULV Department of Theatre Arts performed last week.
Ryan started his musical career 35 years ago. He has recorded three albums, which can be found in Taiwan, Spain, and the United States or at www.michaelryanmusic.com. He has already sold over 40,000 CDs. With such a successful career, why would Ryan opt to continue with his hectic schedule of teaching and performing?
“I enjoy teaching, and it’s nice to have a steady job, and steady income,” Ryan said.
Ryan performs Spanish classical pieces, Irish folksongs, light blues and some originals along with fitting in other genres.
He has also arranged his schedule to allow him enough time to rest between playing six times a week at Claremont’s Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre.
“I’ve worked out my schedule so that it works smoothly and isn’t hectic,” Ryan said. “Performing is not a job you dread; you look forward to the next engagement.”
To outsiders, the life of a musician seems chaotic and unmanageable in some instances. Why make life harder than it already is? The musician’s answer is simple:
“I feel a sense of accomplishment after a performance,” Ryan said. “I can’t imagine doing something else; I love it!”