Students battle with music

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March 5, 2014

By Lauren Piek

 

Six bands will compete for a $500 top prize at SEAL’s Battle of the Bands. Performers will be judged on content, time, musical ability, originality, and crowd response.

The competition is open to anyone from the Whitewater community, but many of the musicians competing attend UW-Whitewater, SEAL live music intern Rachel Lee said.

“A lot of the bands attend school here, so I hope people come to support their fellow students,” Lee said. “The judges that are coming are independent artists or own their own recording studios, so it’s a great opportunity for students if they’re looking for someone with music experience.”

Sophomore Andrew Eppen is competing as the only DJ in the Battle of the Bands. Eppen has been in a DJ battle before, but this is his first time competing in Battle of the Bands at UW-W.

Eppen has played at venues in the Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago areas. Although he is a journalism major, Eppen would like to pursue being a DJ as a career.

“I’m secretly hoping to become a professional DJ, but it’s really competitive,” Eppen said. “My first show I played was at the Rave in Milwaukee last March. I’ve made a lot of progress in the last year.”

Local pop-punk band, the Friend Zone, also is competing in Battle of the Bands. The band formed last September after vocalist Andrew Mindham won a local talent showcase and wanted to form a band.

All four members of the band — Mindham, bassist Brad Beran, drummer Alex Merritt and guitarist Tony Ingrassia — are students at UW-Whitewater.

This version of the band has only been playing together since October, Mindham said.

“When we first started out, when Alex and Tony joined the band, Alex was listening to live recordings, trying to play along with them,” Beran said. “You can practice, but you have to be a band. You need that time to actually play as band, rather than just musicians.”

Trying to find time to practice as a band is difficult because of school, but when they do find time to practice, the band has a good time together, Ingrassia said.

“I love the moments when a song comes together,” Ingrassia said. “Where everything sounds really tight, and it goes really well.”

SEAL will host the annual Battle of the Bands at 7 p.m. on March 7 in the UC Hamilton Room. The student price is $2 with a UW-Whitewater ID and $4 without a student ID.

The Friend Zone and Eppen said connecting with the audience and creating an atmosphere are reasons why they love making music.

“My favorite thing about being a DJ is the experience I have when I’m on stage,” Eppen said. “I played a show in January at the Miramar Theater in Milwaukee, and it was the best show I’ve ever played. I went on after the headliner, and the crowd just loved my music. That experience is indescribable; it’s just the connection with you as the DJ, the music and the crowd.”