With a young, energetic sound, and a mature, thoughtful approach to music, City Side Up combines the talent of Staten Island trio Steven Olsen, Andrew Messina, and Drew Orlandi.
This modern pop-rock project started as high school friends, quickly leading to the recording of an EP and their first ever performance at Supernova's Band Wars 2009. This early experience has taken City Side Up to a higher level, and the trio recently returned to the stage to take first place in Supernova’s Exposed 2010 show at Sullivan Hall, NYC.
City Side Up - Cross Your Fingers
Sitting down to interview the band, it's easy to see why they’ve had such success. Despite being young, these guys speak clearly about their dreams and seem focused on their goals. At the same time, City Side Up appreciates the importance of live performance art… which is probably why they rock the Supernova crowds every time they step on stage.
So without further ado, Supernova is proud to introduce City Side Up:
Instrument: Guitar/Lead Vocal
Instrument: Bass/Back Up Vocal
What is your band’s history; what got you where you stand as a band today?
In 2004, Steve and Andrew began playing together after meeting each other through a local high-school band. After years of rehearsing in Andrew’s basement, they finally decided to start there our own band officially in 2009 and were in need of a bass player to round out a trio.
“We don’t know why, but we always loved the structure of having a rock trio.” - Andrew
After a long search for a bass player, Drew responded to a Facebook post by Steve and, after listening to the initial recordings he asked to audition for the bass spot. In April 2009, they formally declared themselves a band and went into the studio to finish up recording the Don’t Say a Word EP (available for free download!)
How would you describe your band’s sound?
It’s always hard to describe your own sound, especially when it is always evolving with each new song, but our goal right now is to come across with a sound that is: punchy, edgy, truthful, melodic, catchy, energized, and powerful.
Ultimately, the creation of our sound right now is simplistic. What we mean when we say that is that we only record guitar, bass, and drums. We just manipulate our instruments to create different sounds. Of course, there are millions of sounds that we haven’t tapped into yet as a band through the use of digital software and computers. However, we feel that there is so much to learn and uncover with our own instruments and our own personal musicianship that right now we aren’t worried with MIDI keyboards and all that kind of stuff.
Is there such a thing as ‘bad’ music?
We would disagree that there is such a thing as bad music. Everyone has different tastes, opinions, and perceptions of music. What might necessarily speak to one person may not speak to another person. Although, we do believe every kind of music should have an idea behind it.
What is the most rewarding thing about being in a band?
As a band, the most rewarding feeling is hearing how your music has inspired others. It’s funny how music is kind of two-fold because on one hand it is rewarding to inspire others through the music you create, but at the same time, you are learning more about yourself and your abilities as a musician/artist. Our musicianship is so important to us and we feel that has kind of been lost/blurred by the media today in mainstream music.
Was there any particular moment or event that made you realize you wanted to pursue music full time?
Supernova will be glad to know that they had a hand in creating this moment for us...
"It was back in the summer of 2009, we had just played our first official show as a band at a Supernova event in NYC at Sullivan Hall. We had just gotten off stage and the moment we came off, we were greeted and applauded by so many of our friends and even people who didn’t even know us that night.
What really took us by surprise was when the show manager – Jen, who today is a dear friend of ours - told us that what we had done out there was amazing and that if we keep pushing forward, we will definitely make something happen for ourselves. That night was humbling and has always stuck with us. We knew at that moment, our first ever performance, that this was what we wanted to do. We'd been assured that this was what we were meant to do."
Even today, the feeling we all get coming offstage is just so fulfilling. Its not so much about the admiration and appreciation we get from others, its the feeling that we finally showed people what we were made of in that span of 30-minutes or 45-minutes by doing what we love.
And what about individually, when did your musical inspiration hit you?
Individually, the moment we all realized that music was our calling in life was...
Steve: When I first heard “Somebody to Love” by Queen.
Andrew: When I heard Buddy Rich play for the first time.
Drew: When I first heard Brand New in concert.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing ‘new’ artists?
The biggest challenge for up-and-coming artists today is finding a way to stand out in a crowd of endless bands and artists. Not to mention the record industry has been completely annihilated in recent years, and the music industry is constantly evolving through use of new technology. Ultimately, our focus has always been, and will always remain the same: it’s all about our live show and putting on a great performance.
How did your band find Supernova.com?
Thanks to our drummer Andrew, who found Supernova.com through a Google search, we found a permanent home in Supernova.
From our experience at Exposed 2010, what we would say to other bands out there is to play as many shows as you can, and Supernova offers that great opportunity for up-and-coming bands. Exposed 2010 offered us a chance to spread our music and make more fans. We can’t thank Supernova and their people enough. We love you guys and look forward to working with you in the future!
Same here! You guys have a great attitude... What would be your band’s ‘motto’ for putting on a good show?
Our motto is to play each show as if it’s our last. The way we see it is that people are taking the time out of their day and paying their hard earned money to come and see us play, so we better give them an experience that will leave them saying, “Damn, those guys can play!”
Where is your favorite place to practice or play?
Our favorite rehearsal space is Andrew’s basement. We began there and it will always be home to us. A little unknown fact is that there is nothing better then a Capri Sun after every rehearsal…it helps you perform! You other bands should try it.
Our favorite place to perform currently is Sullivan Hall.
What other artists do you look up to?
We all come from listening and appreciating such a diverse culture of music. From jazz to blues; rock to classical; we love all kinds of music from many different periods.
Drew's influences are: Brand New, Bruce Springsteen, Weezer, and BaySide.
Steve's influences are: Elvis Presley, Queen, SRV, John Mayer and Blink-182.
Andrew's influences are: Buddy Rich, JoJo Mayer, Story of the Year, and Sum 41.
Is there anything else that makes your band unique that new listeners should know?
If there is one thing we want readers to know about our band from this article, it's that we are driven by our goal to bring musicianship back to the forefront of performance art in mainstream media.
Ultimately, our definition of success will be increasing awareness to the future generations, to start their own bands and carve their own piece out of history and make a difference.