By Lauren Katz
Park Strangers aren’t so strange or unknown anymore. A group of four Kenyon students, Adam Reed ’15, Noah Weinman ’16, Sam Graf ’16 (both Weinman and Graf are currently abroad) and Vince Femia ’17 have broadened their audience by releasing their first digital album, or EP, on Jan. 18.
The album contains four songs. One is a cover of Fountains of Wayne’s “Hackensack,” while the rest are originals. Weinman took the lead on a majority of the songwriting, but the experience eventually became a collaboration, full of attempts at different methods for finding the right fit.
“None of the songs on this EP were written the same way,” Weinman wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Some were melody first then lyrics, some vice versa. I can say that I much prefer starting with lyrics and then putting it to music because I think it creates nicer melodic lines.”
The album took three weeks to prepare, particularly due to the members’ busy schedules. However, Reed commented on how producing an album was a long-term goal.
“We always meant to do something like this, but it’s hard to find time to record because it takes a lot of time and we are all involved in a lot of other musical things,” Reed said. “We had our two to three nights a week to rehearse, but it takes a whole day to record, and on top of that, hours and hours of sitting at a computer to do the master editing.”
The group finally carved out a day and took advantage of the acoustics in Brandi Recital Hall to record the music. Femia explained that in order to work with the room, the group had to get creative.
“Brandi can be kind of boomy,” Femia said. “Great acoustics for solo performers, but not so much for a band. We just had the drums in one corner, I was far away, [Graf and Reed] were in other corners, and we were all spread out far away so that other sounds would not bleed into microphones recording.”
Though the logistics were complicated, the recording itself proved fairly straightforward.
“After we spent that one day getting everything done and doing a couple takes of each song instrumentally, then the next two or three weeks we did vocals in the studio they have in the back [of Storer],” Femia said.
One might assume that the band practiced together for years before creating this album; however, they only formed in the fall of 2013. Weinman had a couple ideas in mind, so he sought out Reed and Graf.
“[Weinman] approached us the year before this year –– my junior year, his sophomore year –– and he had a lot of things he already put together in his mind,” Reed said. “So when we came together, we had really solid direction and half of a setlist that was almost fully realized. From there we worked a lot of really intricate three-part harmonies, which is a particularly difficult thing to do for a three-piece band, especially for [Graf] on drums who sings half the [lead vocals].”
However, three members were not enough. The band added Femia to the group at the beginning of the fall 2014 semester.
“I came into the band last semester,” Femia said. “[Weinman] contacted me on Facebook over the summer and asked if I was interested. I guess they just wanted a fourth member to make the sound a little bigger.”
The group decided that Femia was a good fit after careful consideration.
“We kind of stalked Vince’s Bandcamp [an online platform for musicians] when we found him and asked him to come aboard,” Weinman wrote.
Unfortunately this new album may be the band’s final act. With Graf and Weinman studying abroad and Reed graduating in the spring, the group’s future may be in jeopardy. However, Park Strangers hope they can work out a solution.
“I definitely would love to keep playing with this group. I think we’ve developed a lot of good chemistry,” Weinman wrote.
“It’s been so much fun,” Femia said. “I had been doing solo stuff for so long, I forgot how fun it is to be in a band. It’s been great working with those guys.”