[editor's note: this interview was conducted May 4th, 2022]
On a campus that is no stranger to student musicians, an up-and-coming band makes a name for itself.
Salisbury University favorites One Gram Band and Pocket Dog passed the torch to Housing Co. to establish itself in the music scene. The band released its debut single “Clueless” on streaming services April 23.
Drummer Ethan Cohen and singer-guitarist Connor Howes started playing together last semester, but the band didn’t form until after spring break. A musical encounter in Cohen’s information systems class started the process.
“Me just being ADHD, I started tapping out this beat on the keyboard,” bassist and frontman Trey Niccolini said. “[Cohen] joined in with the scissors doing the offbeat like *snip snip snip* and we go back and forth. We stop playing and he just looks at me and asks, ‘do you make music?’”
Housing Co. found immediate chemistry upon inviting Cohen’s high school classmate, Connor Lewandowski, to play guitar in a jam session.
Q: When you guys are dealing with classes and other college stuff, where does inspiration come to you?
A: Cohen: It’s all about ambition. Whenever I’m in class, all I’m thinking about is getting out and playing music again. That’s what makes it so special, that I’m not doing it all the time and it’s a luxury.
A: Howes: It’s been pretty stressful recently, [Cohen and I] have had Squawkapella non stop, along with us playing our first few gigs. We hit the ground running and we’re just trying to work every day to keep the momentum going.
Q: What does the songwriting process look like for you guys?
A: Niccolini: We actually all write, and we all came into this with our individual songs. I wrote “Clueless” before I met them. Personally, I like to pick out a melody and instrumental I like and then put words over it second.
A: Cohen: My songwriting is much more lyric-focused. I like to write slower stuff. We all had our own styles and ideas when we formed, so every time we meet there’s a little spark and it’s always something different.
A: Lewandowski: We’re looking for stuff that will give people energy, isn’t too niche, isn’t too personal … we wanna do what other people will like but also what we like.
Q: Is the process of picking out songs to cover the same as when you’re writing original material?
A: Niccolini: I would go as far as to say that we don’t have a process.
A: Cohen: Usually, somebody sends a song in the group chat, somebody says “no,” a week later somebody else sends it and the first person says “I sent that to you a week ago.”
A: Niccolini: Eventually someone will start playing it, we’ll all join in, and then we’ll know if it’s something we wanna do.
A: Lewandowski: Usually the ones we play on stage are the ones we randomly force on each other in practice.
A: Niccolini: There’s a certain threshold of how popular a song has to be because we want the crowd to be able to sing along.
A: Cohen: We like to joke that if the song doesn’t have a million streams on Spotify, we can’t play it.
Q: Now that you have your first single out, what’s the plan going forward?
A: Cohen: I think the main plan is to really push “Clueless” on TikTok, but we also have at least three songs that are almost totally finished.
A: Niccolini: It was kind of unfortunate timing, forming so close to the end of the semester, but we have that momentum going into the summer now.
A: Lewandowski: Releasing the song while we were still on campus was huge for getting our name out there, and now we’re gonna have time to release more stuff.
A: Cohen: Right now we’re still kind of marveling at [the song]. We checked the Spotify statistics the other day and we had over 500 streams in the first 4 days, 200 listeners, and we got added to 44 playlists. The fact that we’ve already been able to reach that many people who wanna hear our music is incredible.
Housing Co. won Battle of the Bands and opened for Surfaces at NestFest concert hosted by SOAP last spring. On Saturday, the band performed at Lurking Class Skate Shop in downtown Salisbury, playing a variety of covers as well as debuting originals.
Housing Co. performs a cover of "Freakin' Out on the Interstate" by Briston Maroney at Lurking Class Skate Shop Oct. 1.
By RYLAND CRISMAN
Featured images and video courtesy of Benjamin Lausch