The Saplings are a nine-man student band made up of primarily Eastman students. Their fun-filled fusion of pop, rock, jazz, and many styles new and old has been providing audiences with upbeat, danceable entertainment since they formed in 2016. The Campus Times talked with keyboardist and vocalist Abe Nouri via email who, with the help of his bandmates, gave us valuable insight into their influences, musical process, and plans for the future. It has been edited lightly.

Who makes up The Saplings and what do they play?

Abe Nouri – Junior, Keyboard and Vocals

Greg Roberts – Senior, Guitar and Vocals

Matt Bent – Junior, Drums and Vocals

Ryder Eaton – Senior, Bass and Vocals

Ben Bird – Junior, Trumpet

Adrian Eldridge – Sophomore, Trombone

Rowan Wolf – Sophomore, Tenor Sax

Jack Courtright – Sophomore, Bass Trombone

Geraldo Marshall – Sophomore, Percussion

We all go to Eastman except Greg, who goes to the U of R.

How long have you guys been playing together/how did you get your start?

We formed as a band during the spring semester of 2016. However we weren’t super serious at the beginning. We only had three original songs, and played covers to fill up our sets. This was good for learning to play together as a band. In the summer, we ramped things up a bit and started to have regular rehearsals and many more original songs.

Has your lineup and sound been pretty consistent or has it changed over time?

We started out as a quartet. Greg played bass, I played guitar and keyboard, Matt played drums, and Geraldo played percussion. We decided to thicken things up a bit by slowly adding horn players to the mix. Once our good friend Ryder got back in town after a semester in Paris, we added Ryder on bass, switched Greg to full-time guitar, and put me on full-time keyboard. Soon after, we solidified a horn section, and had our first gig as the ‘real’ Saplings at Abilene Bar and Lounge near the end of the summer of 2016. We continue to refine our sound every time we rehearse, but I’d say it changed the most drastically while we were figuring out instrumentation. Our sound is defined by having a four-piece horn section, thick four-part harmonies, a keyboardist who uses solely a Rhodes piano, and complex songs that are still singable and danceable.

What artists would you consider your biggest influences?

The Beatles, The Talking Heads, Steely Dan, Tame Impala.

How would you describe your style to someone that is not familiar with your music? Do you stick to a singular style or genre or try to switch things up and combine styles?

We combine influences, even within songs. Pop, rock, soul, disco.

What is your songwriting process like? Is it a group effort or more independent?

We usually write songs independently (so far it’s been Greg and I) but refine and put all the parts together as a band.

Do any of you make music with other groups or independently?

Definitely. All of us play many other gigs in other bands and thrown-together jazz groups. We are essentially a bunch of freelance musicians who all decided to play in a band together. Some of us also do solo projects. Ryder Eaton writes some amazing music that he will occasionally record and perform (but not often, so if you get the chance to hear it, I would. The recordings are online). I also have a solo project called Brahim in which I write music a lot closer to the soul and R&B vein.

What types of venues do you typically perform at? What performances have you already done on the UR campus and elsewhere?

We try to perform anywhere we can. So far, we have played at a lot of house shows, at the Bug Jar, opened for KNOWER at The Yards, at Princeton University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia, at Flour City Station opening for THUNDER BODY and more. As far as what we have done at UR, we have played three Eastman on Campus Events at Alpha Delta Phi, and have enjoyed every one of them. We are always looking to play more on campus so if anyone has ideas for that, shoot us an email at or message us on Facebook.

Do you have any upcoming performances?

We are playing a show with Juicy Connotation at the Bug Jar on March 23. If you can’t make that, you can catch us the next night at the Lovin’ Cup with The Beaumonts.

What’s in the future for The Saplings?

We are recording our first EP in the beginning of March. It should be out by April. Look out for it on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, etc. There has also been talk of a summer tour, so look out for us in your hometown. Besides that, we just want to keep making music that keeps our friends in the audience singing and dancing

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