Temple student, alumnus release first record

Rubber, a pop-inspired funk group, started in 2017 by playing house shows around campus.

Temple alumnus Andrew Loper staples a poster for his jazz funk band “Rubber” on a pole at 12th and Norris streets on Oct. 10. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

As they went around Philadelphia stapling promotional posters to light poles, John Della Franco and Andrew Loper stressed about releasing their new EP the next day. 

“I really hope it does well, this is honestly the most nervous I’ve ever been,” said Loper, a 2018 economics alumnus.

Loper and Franco, a senior media studies and production major, are a duo band called Rubber and released their first EP called “Rubber Baby,” on Oct. 11.  The EP consists of six songs and an interlude that was initially written when the two first met in 2017.

Loper, lead singer, and Della Franco, guitarist, first started working together as a part of a former band that never ended up materializing and then decided to team up. 

“We worked together for a bit and [Della Franco] and I realized that we were really good at writing songs together, so we thought, ‘Why don’t we keep just writing songs,’” Loper said.

The duo started performing at house shows around Main Campus where they eventually caught the attention of Bell Tower Music, Temple’s student-run music agency. After a year of writing songs, they signed a deal with the label in 2018.

They describe their style as “pop-inspired funk.” Some of their original songs include “Control” and “Won’t Come Back,” and are influenced by artists like Thundercat, Hiatus Kaiyote and Jessie J.

Songs like “Won’t Come Back” and “Control” blend musical elements and are not only designed for casual listening but also to convey deeper meanings about life and certain struggles within it, Loper said. 

Rubber’s single, “Won’t Come Back” conveys Loper’s journey with religion, he said.

“I was around Catholics growing up, and I felt that the Catholic faith was, at times, very restrictive,” he added. 

While their music leans toward funk, their writing process is fluid and can lead to a variety of different funk-pop sounds, like bass, keyboard and drum sets. The process is something they both enjoy and involves a great deal of teamwork, Della Franco said. 

“The process is different for every song, but we try to work together to make something great. [Loper] handles the words and the melody and I handle the harmony,” he added.

They both try to find time within their schedules to work on their music. Della Franco lives in the Philadelphia area while Loper commutes to Temple from Drexel Hill.

They hope their EP sheds light on their earlier stages of creativity as a duo, Della Franco said, as all the songs were written when they had initially met.

“The songs started out as me on guitar with him singing, but now they’ve been fully fleshed in the studio,” Della Franco said.

The group has appeared on local media outlets, like Live at 5 on Radio 104.5 as well as an interview and video with The Key, WXPN’s local music blog.

With music drifting further away from radio and more toward streaming, being placed on companies public playlists with large folowings are important for local acts, Loper said.

“If you don’t have a couple of grand sitting in the bank for a playlist placement, it’s really hard to grow your audience,” he added.

Bell Tower Music has been doing more promotional techniques, like canvassing, in anticipation for Rubber’s EP release, said Patricia McNamee, a senior media studies and production major.

McNamee is Bell Tower Music’s director of marketing and helps to organize production on albums and create flyers, QR codes, and stickers.

 “It’s a small group that makes it happen, but it’s been fun seeing this grow,” she said.

The band hopes to tour in January and is booking shows in Philadelphia, New York City and Washington D.C., Della Franco said.  

“We’re putting our foot on the gas,” he added. 

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