Student Bands Thrive On and Off Campus


Courtesy of Blonde Otter

Blonde Otter plays at off-campus venues

Joseph Gerngross, Contributing Writer

Various student bands are integrated into the nightlife and music scenes at Fordham. They play for student crowds on Friday nights in off-campus basements, at various gigs in the Belmont neighborhood or even at school sponsored events, contributing their own style and influence to the music culture on campus.

Reality TV is one of several rock bands that play basement shows and house parties hosted by Fordham students. In an interview with The Fordham Ram, members of the band shared their thoughts on its image.

“We all have different influences,” said Wes Green, FCLC ’20, lead singer and guitarist of Reality TV.

“You can hear a classic rock … fast punk kinda like the Ramones,” said Niko Kapetan, FCRH ’20, the rhythm guitarist.

Henry Smith, FCRH ’20, drummer, said you can hear an influence from almost every genre of music, except country.
When asked about their favorite gig in the band’s history, they all agreed: the first Saturday in October 2019. They said they were just happy the NYPD never got involved.

“We actually got shut down the weekend before,” said Kapetan. “We were just so tight, and it just worked out. It was a basement show but I feel like we got our sound so it wasn’t too loud.”

According to Reality TV members, their sound is usually muffled by the reverb in such small spaces, like the basements they play. However, the October gig proved to be the exception.

“I drank my Red Bull and I said, ‘Let’s get serious.’” Smith said. “We played a killer set. We had an encore.”

Reality TV’s encore number that night was “T.V. Eye,” a song made famous by one of their central influences, the Stooges. The band debuted new t-shirts with its logo for $7 at the show, which the members made themselves. The band recently dropped its first demo on Bandcamp.

Another band on campus is Stolen Valor. They describe themselves as “intense hardcore with metal influences, especially sludge metal, early black metal and death metal.”

Thomas Koenig, FCRH ’21, guitar player for Stolen Valor, described the band as satirical and cynical, an attempt to convey the macabre and “generally unpalatable sense of humor” the band members all possess.

Joe Mastrosimone, FCRH ’19, bass player for Stolen Valor, said his favorite show was playing Battle of the Bands at Rodrigue’s Coffee House last year.

“The real treat, however, was seeing at least 95% of the crowd, comprised of parents and students alike, become extremely uncomfortable and weirded out once we started playing,” Mastrosimone said.

The performance ended up on the Instagram page Fordham Barstool.

Vocalist Hugh Potter, FCRH ’21, differed with Mastrosimone on his favorite venue.

“By far our most commercially successful show was Pizzagate, a collaborative effort with some other local bands to take over Pugsley’s, a local pizza place,” he said. “We tore up this tiny AstroTurf stage in the basement next to precarious dusty karaoke machines and got paid in beer and pizza.”

According to Koenig, the group is working on new music.

“We only have a short demo recorded right now but we’re working on recording a bunch of new songs that we’re super excited about,” he said.

Stolen Valor’s recent demo is available for listening on Bandcamp.

Blonde Otter, a band with a more subdued sound, describes themselves as “not as cool as the Strokes but not as nerdy a Weezer.”

“The music is supposed to be fun,” says Rob Falcone, FCRH ’17, the bassist and principal songwriter. “It’s not over-dramatic. It doesn’t take itself too seriously,”

“We’re the bar band we would wanna see if we went out,” says Mike Guariglia, FCRH ’17, the singer.

Blonde Otter is composed of recent graduates from Fordham, including the brothers Rob and Matt Falcone, FCRH ’18.

“A lot of the indie music nowadays, like that Alex G stuff, or PEAER, it’s great stuff, but you can’t really dance to it,” says Rob Falcone.

Rob Falcone likened audience interaction to a first date.

“You gotta look at it like you’re going on a date with the audience,” he said. “You don’t want to show them your weird side at first. You gotta have at least like an appealing personality to draw them in at first.”

Guariglia chimed in.

“Then you can kinda show them anything and bring them down to all these crazy places because they’re on-board with you now,” he said.

Blonde Otter will be doing a cover set of their essential listening. This year they said they will be impersonating the Strokes to encourage anyone, Strokes fan or otherwise, to come to Bowery Electric in the Lower East Side on Friday, Oct. 25.

Reality TV will also be having a show on Oct. 25 at an undisclosed address on Belmont Avenue, just blocks away from the university. Band members can be contacted for more details.