Temple alumni’s band seeks to expand fanbase

Alex Manescu wrote six songs on his study abroad trip that started the five-piece band.

(Top from left to right) Peter Sovia, Youssef Mossa, (bottom) Alex Manescu, Vince Dejesus and Dylan Malloy sit on a couch at Manescus and Dejesus’ house off 28th and Poplar streets on Oct. 20. | ISAAC SCHEIN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Wanting to make a pun from Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird,” five friends played on the name Boo Radley, a character in the novel. 

Along with their bandmates, alumni Alex Manescu and Vince Dejesus decided to name their band “Booze Radly” — accidentally misspelling the character’s last name.  

Now, their name is an inside joke between the Lehigh Valley-raised bandmates, who said the misspelling is their own way of making the word “radical” an adverb. 

Manescu, a 2014 film and media arts alumnus, Dejesus, a 2015 media studies and production alumnus, along with Dylan Molloy, Peter Sovia and Youssef Mossa make up the “bummer rock” ensemble of Booze Radly. They perform at local bars, record stores and venues across the state nearly every weekend. 

The initial formation of the band came from a mix of high school and middle school friendships and a desire to play music, members said. Yet, their first practice didn’t occur until Manescu, the vocalist and guitarist, returned from a 2012 England study abroad trip with six songs written.

“I wrote a lot of those lyrics as a way to deal with feeling depressed when I had such a luxurious opportunity to go live abroad,” said 28-year-old Manescu. “I felt like the two things shouldn’t be compatible.” 

Manescu, and his roommate Dejesus, rewrote the lyrics and instrumental parts of the songs and employed Molloy, Sovia and Mossa help to practice what would then become their first album, “Whitechapel Nights.” It was recorded at Annenberg Hall’s Studio G in 2013 and released the following year.

Despite the release, there was never an official “becoming a band” moment, said Sovia, 29 and the band’s drummer. 

“[Manescu] never really said like, ‘We’re starting a band.’ I think he just kinda assumed like, ‘I’m going to play with him,’” he added.

Since 2014, the band produced four additional records, with their latest album, “Haunted Mind,” released in June. 

Manescu said the album was inspired by his father’s experiences with mental illness. His father, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia, is a painter and created the album’s art. 

“I was trying to personalize my dad’s problem and difficulty with it so that it would come out as like a more general art piece, and then other people can feel whatever they identify with it,” he added. 

The band is focusing on expanding its audience around the East Coast and collaborating on an album with Ghost Music, a solo punk artist, to be released next summer. 

“It feels a little more organic this run,” said Malloy, 26 and the keyboardist. 

Dejesus describes Booze Radly’s live shows as “roll the dice” sets where guitars can be seen flipping in the air. Ultimately, he wants people to listen to the music and not feel alone, he added. 

“Music is like bridging the barrier of someone feeling isolated to connect that dot to another person, and even if that’s just one other person, that’s cool to not feel existential dread or completely isolated,” said Dejesus, 29 and a guitarist.

The band members said the local support they’ve accumulated over the past six years feels like a community.

While the members are uncertain about whether they’d ever go full-time with the band, the band is more about hanging out and making music above anything else, Sovia said. 

“We take the music itself more seriously than all the other extra stuff that comes with it,” said Mossa, 27, a former Temple student and the band’s bassist. “We just want to make something that we really like, if everybody likes it, that’s cool, if people don’t like it, that’s cool. We’re gonna keep doing music anyway.”

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