In the plethora of underground rock bands and music groups that exist on college campuses today, it seems Eastman’s alternative band NeoCollage just might be a source of salvation for eager music buffs desperate to lend their ears to something weird and original.
The band’s CD debut show for their first album “Against the Current” took place Oct. 22 in the Eastman Annex building.
“It was a lot of fun and we got a great response,” the band’s percussionist sophomore Rick Williams said.
The band’s calling card is improvisation, an unexpected quality from a band whose setup includes a violin and a harp. NeoCollage successfully included an improvised song in their show.
“We asked the audience for a theme or an idea,” Williams said. “Someone shouted ‘the Sun!’ so we based [our song] off of that.”
The band thrives off of the unpredictability of their improvised songs.
“You never know how the piece is going to develop,” Williams said.
As Williams pointed out, improvisation was the basis of the band’s formation.
“We started off with improvising because there was nothing written,” Williams said as he described NeoCollage during its early stages in the Eastman practice rooms. “We feel that [improvisation] is a vital part of our roots. It allows you to create songs that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to write.”
The band’s five members are all Eastman students. Instruments include an electric harp – which is sometimes made to sound like a heavy metal guitar – a percussion section that varies from rock drum set to marimba to hand drums, a viola, a violin and a bass.
The strange and varied sounds of the band’s music stem from its eclectic musical roots. The band’s influences come from Motown, funk and soul to alternative rock like Sigur Ros and Coldplay, to jazz.
Interestingly, the band lacks a front man of any sort. The attention of audiences is not focused on any particular member while the band performs. Instead, the band lets different members take control at different times. Since their songs have a flexible structure that leaves much room for change and improvisation, different band members modify songs in the middle of playing.
NeoCollage’s debut CD “Against the Current” features all the energy and unpredictability of Saturday’s performance.
“We chose the name ‘Against the Current’ because we feel that our musical style makes us different from most bands,” Williams said.
Indeed, the band’s recorded music is truly against the current of most modern college bands. In one song, titled “Luke’s Groove,” sophomore harp player Megan Bledsoe makes her electric harp sound like it is being played by Jimi Hendrix – as Williams described it.
The band has plans to distribute their CD for $8 at a store called Alternativemusic.com, located on Park Avenue.
As for future performances and recording sessions, the band has no immediate plans.
“This was our first big show,” Williams said with a smile.
Williams hopes to have another show soon.
Despite this uncertainty, their distinctive style, growing fan base, new CD and dedicated members make NeoCollage’s future seem bright.Fuentes can be reached at email@example.com.