From the inner workings of one man’s mind, the concept of Cruiser – an indie-pop project with feel-good vibes – was born. Andy States soon turned his solo project into a four-piece through mutual friendships, jobs and ex-girlfriends. States, 27, began working on songs in the walk-in closet of his Philadelphia loft.
Cruiser’s self-titled EP features six songs all originally written and recorded by States.
“I wrote and recorded all the songs at my house and submitted a demo to Jeremy Park, who produced a Youth Lagoon album,” States said. “He said he liked the music, and we recorded the EP, just me and a session drummer.”
When States became interested in pursuing Cruiser as the real thing, he needed a full band to play live shows.
States graduated from Kutztown in 2007 where he originally knew Jon Van Dine, 28. Van Dine had moved to Ohio for work, then came back to Philly to work at G2 Advertising Agency, which is where he met Kyle Cook. States played a solo show at Penn State in 2009, where he had first released some of his Cruiser material, and where he met Josas Lazas, now 27, who was performing in another band. Lazas currently attends the Community College of Philadelphia, studying music.
These four guys came together in Summer 2012 when States realized he needed a live band to piece together the material he had been working on for the past few years. He already knew Van Dine and Lazas. Van Dine brought along Cook. The full band was formed.
Cruiser’s first real show as a full band was at The Fire on Fourth Street and Girard Avenue this past fall, which was followed by two performances at the CMJ Music Festival.
“It was only our second and third show ever playing together. We had only practiced about five times before that,” States said.
From there, the band got its name out into the public eye through various music blogs. Jeremy Maciak, an A&R representative at Vagrant Records, discovered Cruiser through those blogs and contacted States on Facebook.
“In addition to help from Jeremy, shows have sort of just begun falling into our laps,” States said.
Recently, Cruiser opened up for Matt & Kim at the House of Blues in Atlantic City, N.J. Van Dine had the contact that got them the gig.
“This girl I know submitted us as an opener, and I had no idea. Matt & Kim listened to our demo and liked it,” Van Dine said. Cruiser has also opened for the bands Sun Airway and Work Drugs.
Each of the four band members has a creative trade that helps bring the band even closer together. Lazas created the Facebook group called “Philly Musician Cult,” a collaborative group for musicians in the Fishtown area who are looking to buy or sell gear or seeking additional band mates. The group is currently at just more than 400 members.
“I tried to make it more for actual people in bands rather than just people who like music or want to see shows or whatever. I’ll let anyone in, but its real purpose is for musicians to collaborate together,” Lazas said.
The remaining three band mates are all graphic designers working at Web design agencies. Van Dine also does concert photography throughout the city. Currently he shoots photos for JUMP, as well as blowthescene.com.
Currently, Cruiser plays live shows featuring the six songs on the EP.
“We have songs we’re working on together and songs I wrote that are partially done,” States said. He said he is trying to involve all the members in the writing process and include them on the next recording. When it comes to writing songs, there is a process.
“I start out writing a guitar part and come up with a skeleton, then figure out the verse and chorus,” States said. Cruiser will be featuring a new addition to its live performances.
“The computer is five parts – there is no other way to execute songs…It’s just the reality of the 21st century,” Lazas said. “In this day and age, to make songs that big, you’d have to be Sufjan Stevens or the Polyphonic Spree to get away with that or afford to have that many people on stage to play that many parts.”
Cruiser plans to release new material in the summer, but for now, States said he is grateful for meeting his band mates.
“I’m a lucky to be playing with these guys,” States said.
Rachel Barrish can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.