Numerous excellent alternative bands like Earth on Fire, Wall Carpets, Shark Earrings and many more call Rowan University home. Rowan has a thriving, continuously expanding alternative music scene that is quite well-known in the underground. In addition to this, new bands are starting up and introducing their unique art to the scene. This past weekend I sat down with one of these new bands for an exclusive interview discussing the ins and outs of being a new alternative band in such a competitive scene.
“Fair Game” is a group of talented musicians that are starting to make a name for themselves in Rowan’s underground alternative music industry. Despite not having much recognition yet, Fair Game has a unique and powerful sound that sets them apart from other bands in their genre. Their music has already gotten fans shouting and bouncing in the few venues where they have performed.
To begin, let’s get to know the band, beginning with Chris Baldarrago, an 18-year-old freshman at Rowan studying Management Information Systems. He is the guitarist for the band. Following that is Stephen Kossman, an 18-year-old freshman at Rowan studying Music Industry. He is the band’s bassist.
Last but not least is the dynamic frontman Will Sawyer, a 19-year-old freshman at Rowan studying Music Industry. He is also one of the trio’s guitarists and the band’s lead singer, delivering raw and expressive vocals that captivate his listeners. He is also the band’s songwriter, having written all of their songs.
“With making music, I try to do it all the time. It’s kind of like a muscle I work out…so I’m always writing little things here and there,” Sawyer explained. “The songs on the EP started with me just going into my attic…and just messing around and I would start just a drum beat then a chord progression or a melody and it would all just come together slowly.”
Before Sawyer knew or met Baldarrago and Kossman, he had been singing and songwriting and dabbling within his craft. His goal was always to attend Rowan and break into the alternative music scene, performing his own shows and sharing his own original music. His first step towards this was putting out his first EP named “Love Your Friends” in early September. Not long after, he came across and befriended Baldarrago and Kossman and invited them to join the band. Thus Fair Game was born.
With the strong music scene on campus and with music as good as theirs, people will want to know more about these newly formed bands like Fair Game. One question every band gets asked is who are their biggest inspirations.
“I would say probably one of my biggest influences is probably ‘90s alternative bands. The Smashing Pumpkins, Dinosaur Jr., and Nirvana were one of the first big bands that I ever got into and that helped put me into that world. I also love a lot of punk music and psychedelic music,” Kossman said.
Sawyer has said his inspirations are Surf Curse and Sipper with his biggest being Dayglow. This is shown as much since the band’s name, Fair Game, comes from one of Dayglow’s popular songs of the same name.
Music is a universal language that has the power to bring people together and evoke strong emotions. From an early age, many of us develop an interest in music through exposure to different things. Whether it’s through listening to music with our parents, hearing a song on the radio or discovering a new band online, there are many ways that people can gain an interest in music. Each of the members of Fair Game found their love for music in their own way.
“When I was pretty young my dad would play his music in the car all the time. I knew all the music that he would play,” said Balarrago. “One time, when I was eight, I went to Peru and my cousin was playing the guitar. He was playing guitar and I think he was playing Avenged Sevenfold and I was like wow that’s cool as f**k. One day when he went to school I grabbed his guitar and taught myself to play ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ [a song by Queen].”
Sawyer states that when he was younger, around the age of seven or eight, he, his brother, and a few other people from their neighborhood were in a band and needed a bass player. This inspired Sawyer to learn how to play the bass. Later, at the start of high school, he realized he wanted to write songs, so he taught himself how to play the guitar, learned music theory, chord progressions and so on to compose his own music.
Kossman’s passion for music began when he began to listen to music on a regular basis, primarily the Beatles and Nirvana, which he discovered in his sister’s LP music library. After that, he was so motivated that he began learning to play the guitar at the age of thirteen.
For boys like this, music has provided them with a tremendous amount of love and connection, which seems to encompass their entire life with no complaints. Other than music, small activities they enjoy include skating or going to the beach, as expressed by Sawyer, or simply playing video games, as said by Kossman. Baldarrago, who enjoys skating, also enjoys playing soccer with his family on occasion.
Fair Game is a new band on the scene, thus they haven’t played many shows yet. Their debut performance was at the Rowan Alternative Music chapter club’s Halloween concert, which was hosted by AudioSpace, a campus venue built by the band Earth on Fire. They also performed at the Rowan Alternative Music chapter club’s EMO Nite where they played music from the band Title Fight.
As a new band, they may offer some helpful tips to any other musically motivated persons who want to form their own band.
“Stop talking about doing and just do it…get a show and do it. The sooner you do the more fun you’ll have and you’ll live a good life and life is awesome and be happy,” said Sawyer.
Though the future is unknown, the bandmates hope to remain together after graduation, with Sawyer optimistic that they will. In any event, all men recognize that no matter what happens in the future, they want to be doing something they enjoy.
One thing about the future we do know is that on Feb. 17 at The Riviera they will be playing a show. For more information about the show follow @the_riviera_nj on Instagram.
Keep up with the band Fair Game and Will Sawyer @fairgame557 on Instagram as well as Chris Baldarrago @chris_baldarrago and Stephen Kossman @steve.k_ both on Instagram. Lastly, you can listen to Fair Game’s new EP, “Love Your Friends,” on Spotify.
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