Scranton alt rockers University Drive announce tour, deluxe album edition
If you like soaring vocal melodies, catchy choruses and calculated chaos, University Drive might be just the band for you.
The Scranton alternative outfit announced a tour last week on a deluxe edition of their recent release, “On/Off: Reset.” The tour will comprise two sets of three-day weekenders, Aug. 11 to 13 and Aug. 18 to 20, and will kick off at O’Leary’s in Scranton. The deluxe edition of the record will be announced shortly before the band hits the road.
The band’s debut full-length record was released on May 31 through Fightless Records, an indie label based in Canada.
The record was written in its entirety by the project’s mastermind, Ed Cuozzo, who also recorded every instrument on all but one track.
Cuozzo explained that while he would love to spend a month touring, the small route makes the most sense.
“This is just what works best for all of us. I just always thought it was more effective doing smaller runs in places — slowly widening the radius instead of going 11 days in a bunch of random places that you won’t get back to,” Cuozzo explained.
According to Cuozzo, the songs on the record were written from six months to a year and a half before they were released.
An incarnation of the record’s first single, “Only in the Way,” existed while Cuozzo was in his previous band, A Social State. He said that it didn’t strike a chord when he showed it to his former bandmates.
“They just weren’t into it. It’s funny because that’s probably my favorite or at least second favorite song on the record,” he said. “I understand though; everybody has a different ear for things.”
After A Social State was no longer a band, Cuozzo was inspired to write, perform and record music under his own name. He released “The Silvia EP” in January 2016 this way.
“When I first put out the (Silvia) EP, I thought, ‘I’m just going to do this. There’s no pressure. I can do it at my own leisure,’” he recalled. The six song EP offers a raw, stripped-down sound, with Cuozzo’s flair for catchy riffs, vocal melodies and lyricism.
However, he said that when he finished recording “On/Off: Reset” he believed that the record deserved to belong to its own entity.
“When I kind of heard what the record was going to be, I started thinking that maybe it should have a band, it needs an identity. It didn’t feel like ‘The Silvia EP,’” he explained.
Cuozzo said that he has always admired artists like Dave Grohl and Trent Reznor, who he said “went in with a singular vision and weren’t scared to do things on their own.”
He added that the opportunity to create recorded music that fit his exact vision is freeing, and that by doing it himself he was able to manifest that vision.
“‘Only in the Way’ is exactly how I wanted to hear it,” he explained. “It was super liberating to go in and hear a song in your head and just go and make it sound that way … in Social State I definitely think a couple songs would get close; most of the time we wouldn’t hit it exactly,” he continued.
He added, “It was super fun to pretend to be a drummer.” Unfortunately, it would be difficult for Cuozzo to pull off the one-man-show live.
“As much as I wish I could do it all at once, there isn’t the cloning technology,” he said.
Cuozzo’s original plan was to alternate members, but he said the line up — Scranton area musicians John Husosky, Michael Flaherty and Steve Martin — has really stuck.
“I really love playing with John, Mike and Steve. They’re just easy to play with,” he said, explaining that they picked up on the songs and his vision almost immediately.
“They cover my mistakes. They’re awesome,” he said.
Cuozzo said that another positive departure from his previous band involves his attitude toward success.
“I used to get obsessed with getting a label and a booking agent and all that … I’d think, ‘I’m a failure if I don’t get this. I’m a failure if I don’t succeed,’” he said. “I think anybody who plays music and is serious about it kind of goes through that to some extent.”
Cuozzo made it a point to keep off that path with this release and alleviate the pressure he usually puts on himself. He decided to send the record to a few labels, but leave them only a two-week window to get back to him.
“My plan was, if no one gets back to me within that two-week period, that’s fine. Independent release. No big deal,” he said. “Emotionally, that was awesome.”
On the last day of Cuozzo’s time constraint, Fightless Records got back to him.
“It’s just this little start-up indie label. It’s just these two kids who are like 20 or 21. It’s nothing crazy, but they helped a ton with promotion, marketing and even booking some of the stuff for the tour,” he said. “I really like where their heart is. They’re willing to go the extra mile.”
The next thing on Cuozzo’s plate is another solo acoustic EP. He said that it would be a little while until it is released.
“I’m just going to record (the acoustic EP) in my house. I have a little 8-track recorder. I just think it makes it sound a little more raw,” Cuozzo shared. “No pitched vocals or editing. It’s just on the fly. I like doing the acoustic stuff that way,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Cuozzo said he is always writing music for University Drive, and music in general.
“We plan on doing an EP in the future; it’s just a matter of timing it right. We’re going to do something really cool with our current record.”
IF YOU GO
What: University Drive Tour Kickoff
Where: O’Leary’s Pub, 514 Ash St., Scranton
When: 9 p.m. Aug. 11.
Additional information: $5, 21+. Esta Coda, James Barrett and Black Hole Heart will also perform.