Prog rock trio strives for originality, fun

It’s not uncommon to hear a crappy cover band, but there’s something to be said about one that can transform into an innovative, alternative rock trio.

“We started off as a cover band,” said Peter Duong, lead vocalist and guitarist of the band Woodland Avenue. “We were pretty bad – terrible, actually.”

The band, which includes two Temple students, decided playing “Green Day and other terrible pop songs” wasn’t showcasing the best of its musical abilities, so the members started writing their own songs, said Duong, a senior elementary education major.

“Everything we play is original now,” Duong said. “We made a pact never to play a cover song again.”
Duong said he composes the majority of the songs and then runs them by bassist Kevin Dao, a junior kinesiology major, and drummer Andrew Beshenich.

“When I write something new, I play it for them, and they pretty much make the changes for me,” Duong said. “It’s a group effort.”

“[Beshenich and I] are usually the ones to clean the new songs up,” Dao said. “Pete writes most of the lyrics, and when we hear them, we’re usually like, ‘Pete, these songs are just about you trying to get a girl or something.’”

Love and breakups are prevalent themes in many of Woodland Avenue’s song lyrics, but the band keeps the songs whimsical, as seen in song titles like “Thighs” and “Battlestar GaLOVEtica.”

“What’s that band’s name? Fall Out Boy? Yeah, we try not to sound like them,” Duong said. “We never really know how to describe our style, but a lot of it is influenced by trying not to sound like those pop rock bands. We don’t like to, but I guess if you had to categorize us, we’d be in the progressive rock genre.”

Duong said the band has been described as sounding like two of its biggest influences, Incubus and Muse.

“Our main goal is just to find new stuff to play, just to have fun,” Dao said.

The band members had been jamming together as friends in their hometown Norristown, Pa., before they formed the band in September 2008.

The trio would jam and practice together at Beshenich’s house on a street known as none other than Woodland Avenue.

Since the days of the members’ informal jams, the band has gone on to perform at many Philadelphia venues including O.N.E. at Rittenhouse, Dr. Watson’s Pub and the North Star Bar.

“We really all came together with a common bond between us, and that’s music,” Duong said. “The fact that everything just comes together when we play is pretty awesome. It’s a pretty phenomenal thing.”

Maria Zankey can be reached at maria.zankey@temple.edu.

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