Some people use the cliched phrase, “I’m in a band,” as a pickup line or a way to momentarily embody a childhood dream. However, for Peter Anthony “PJ” Cruz, being in a band was always a reality to achieve. Not only is Cruz in a band, but he also arranges the music for an a capella group and cheers for Fordham teams in the pep band.
Currently, Cruz spends most of his time working on the band he formed last spring, “Free Advertising” with members Greame Anderson, FRCH ’18 and Brian Reynolds, FRCH ’17. Cruz is the guitarist and vocalist for the group, which covers bands like Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Kooks and Arctic Monkeys.
One of Cruz’s favorites is “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child that he arranged in a new way.Cruz has also written songs. “Bedroom Blues” is the one he said people tend to enjoy the most. “Free Advertising” has played at “Rams Got Talent,” the Asian Culture Exchange’s events and at Rodrigue’s. Looking to the future of his newly formed band, Cruz alluded to the prospects of participating in Fordham’s Battle of the Bands.
Cruz is also the musical director “B-Sides,” an a capella group he has been a part of since his freshman year. He has also been in the University Band and the Pep Band since his sophomore year. “It take a lot of energy to play the snares in the sun, while also having to be a catalyst for the team and for the band,” Cruz said.
On top of that, Cruz plays jazz weekly at Fordham Lincoln Center’s campus after inspiration from a musical improvisation class last semester. While such a packed schedule would scare or tire many other full time students, such a busy life surrounded by music inspires Cruz.
His dream is to be a touring artist. “If everyone has a dream job, why can’t that be mine?” Cruz said.
However, if a career in music does not work out, Cruz has a backup plan: medicine. It is not common for a student to double major in biology and music. “Studying biology allows me to see art in a different and more analytical way,” Cruz said. “Studying music also helps me to study science. Having that music background enables me to better understand different patterns and concepts in science.”
While PJ enjoys biology, it’s clear that music is his true passion. “Music is something I do every day,” he said. “Whether it’s singing, playing guitar or piano or doing music theory homework.”
Cruz originally wanted to be a philosophy major on the pre-law track. This aspiration was one of the reasons he chose Fordham. “I love the Jesuit’s liberal intellectual strategies; Because of this Fordham felt right for me,” Cruz said.
Even though Cruz’s collegiate plan took an unexpected turn, he does not regret his path. “I couldn’t be happier. I love New York and the opportunities here,” Cruz said.
It’s a good thing that Cruz loves Fordham and New York, because it’s a bit of a hike for him to visit home. “I love getting asked, ‘Where are you from?’ For a while, I said D.C. because it’s easy, but I can’t ignore my childhood growing up in Saudi Arabia for 15 years,” Cruz said. “Being raised overseas gave me a large world view. Nothing is going to surprise me. You can’t be so sure with people who grow up here.”
Although Cruz acknowledges the special connections he made in Saudi Arabia, he does not have a plan to return any time soon. “I think the culture is cool and I definitely miss the people I met there, but life goes forward,” Cruz said. “I can’t say those were the best year of my life, because I don’t know when they are going to be.”
With all of Cruz’s charisma and enthusiasm for music, those “best years” could be just around the corner. “New York is my home—I spend most of my time here,” Cruz said, “Despite living in a dorm room, this is my home.”