Guitarist and junior English major Kevin Kelly loves “Star Trek.” Bassist Shane Callahan will be going to school to learn how to build guitars. Lead singer Dominic Lorusso is a graphic designer and “has some obnoxious sneakers.” This is all according to drummer Lou Muzyczek, who has a motorcycle, but no one he knows thinks it’s cool.
These are the guys that make up French Girls, a band comprised of students from the College and Rowan University. The band played its second show at the College last Friday after competing in a Battle of the Bands in Spring 2006.
The guys started the band in early 2006, after Lorusso, Muzyczek and Callahan, all roommates at Rowan, began jamming in their apartment. They “began playing around with song ideas that would later make their way into the French Girls repertoire,” Kelly said. “I had played in a few bands with Dom in the past, so one day, he got down on one knee and invited me to start playing with them.”
Lorusso writes most of the lyrics, while the music is a collaboration between the three other members.
“As for the music,” Lorusso, from Cinnaminson, said, “It’s usually one of us will come up with the skeleton of the song, and then once we bring in to practice, we’ll flesh it out.”
The band just finished recording a CD, which the guys are hoping to have ready by the spring. The album was recorded at Attic Studios outside of Doylestown, Pa.
Muzyczek, of Pennsauken, credits “television shows, movies, historical events and crack-pot theories about aliens and people living at the center of the earth” for the songs’ unusual titles. Some titles include “Amateur Vampires” and “Bonesaw is Ready.” “Occasionally they relate to the lyrics of a song, but, quite honestly, not often,” Kelly said.
The sound of the band is a mix of various styles, including jazz, punk and Latin music. Lorusso described the sound as eclectic. “One moment you’ll be hearing a dreamy Radiohead-esque part, then next it’ll be a freak-out Mars Volta-inspired part,” he said. “When we come up with a new song, it’s no holds-barred. We’ll play whatever and try to make a song from it.”
“Our songs are asymmetrical – I think in a very positive way,” Kelly said. “They play more like musical narratives than conventional, more formulaic songs, which might have distinct choruses and verses in predictable locations.”
Callahan, from Medford, said, “We try to take our different influences and digest them, so we’re not just spitting something out that sounds exactly like this band or that band.”
The members of this South Jersey band all take some inspiration from the Philadelphia music scene, which Kelly described as “a very musically rich region.”
Lorusso said the ethic of many Philadelphia artists has influenced the band. “Most bands from Philly don’t have huge egos and act like rock stars. We try to go with that same sort of mentality,” he said.
French Girls won second place in Rowan’s Battle of the Bands and has played at other local venues, including the Circle Thrift in Philadelphia, which Lorusso and Callahan credited as their favorite place to date that the band has played.
“There is nothing like having a bunch of people in your face while playing music and just totally sharing the moment with the band,” Callahan said. “To me, that is what playing a show is all about . one big giant sharing experience of the moment.”
Though the band has not been on tour yet, it hopes to hit the road if the album is well-received and if the members can find the time between school and work. “I would like to see us go somewhere beyond a hobby,” Callahan said. “Touring would be great. I have never been on tour and just look forward to the experience.”
Many of the songs’ lyrics are fantasy inspired. “They’re mini-narratives that describe far away lands and humans who find themselves in epic situations,” Kelly said. Though he hesitated to call the CD a “concept album,” he said there is thematic continuity between the songs.
“Basically, we write songs about crazy stuff and it makes you want to shake it,” Callahan said.