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Blindfolded by a shirt tied around his eyes, Nick Beebower twirled a drum stick in his right hand before introducing Studio89’s final song of the night. The rest of the band’s members straddled their instruments in front of Beebower — Vir Batra stood directly ahead of him, Sam Parrish on his right and Jesse Herman on his left.
At The Coop on Ackerman Avenue, students crowded the living room space in front of the band with stardust lights bouncing off their faces. Some students spilled over onto the staircase, while a few others peered through a window outside the house as Batra jumped around and sang the opening words of the closing track.
Throughout the song, each member took turns showcasing their individual talents while the lead singer, Batra, provided the story. Still blindfolded, Beebower worked his sticks around the drum set for a solo two-and-a-half minutes into the track. Parrish and Herman added bass and guitar licks before the conclusion of their set, which led to applause from the swaying students.
“It encapsulates how many tricks we have up our sleeve,” Parrish said about the performance.
The track, “Casual Conversations for the Sake of Conversing”, is Studio89’s second single, set to release on May 6. The band, made up entirely of Syracuse University Bandier sophomores, began last semester and has quickly turned into a staple at SU’s student band scene. Herman joked that each member brings something different to the band: Beebower provides the sex appeal, Herman is the heartthrob, Parrish is the heartbreaker and Batra’s the front man.
“There’s four of them, and they’re all just so different in their own way and they bring everything different to the band,” said sophomore Ava Lahijani, who helps with the band’s social media. “Everyone just sees them go on stage—anyone can see themselves in one of the band members.”
Batra and Beebower first met at an orientation Zoom meeting before the start of their freshman year. Immediately, Beebower said the two established that they wanted to create a band, vocalizing their ambitious plans during the meeting.
With nowhere else to play, the duo practiced together in their first semester in Hendricks Chapel and Newhouse classroom 490. The name of the band comes from Beebower and Batra thinking they were playing in classroom 489, which is actually a storage closet.
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After the end of their freshman year, Batra visited Beebower in his hometown of Los Angeles, California, where the incomplete Studio89 played their first show on a tennis court.
Toward the end of last summer, Batra and Beebower started to put together the rest of the group. The two called Parrish on her birthday, July 27, to ask if she would play bass. Parrish, whose primary instrument is the piano, said she had the instrument “collecting dust” at home but had never played the bass before.
Parrish quickly learned the bass before the band’s first show of 2021 at the Blue Room. The band’s final piece, Herman, was present in the audience that night.
Herman and Batra had played a set together earlier in the year. Herman joined the band shortly after. The full band landed their first show together at the Harrington on March 4.
“The crowd was just going insane,” Lahijani said about the Harrington performance. “Right when they got on stage, the energy shifted in the room.”
Studio89’s energy-shifting ability in the basements of Syracuse’s student venues came from having a “good time” on stage, Batra said while dancing with the crowd to the music. Senior Anish Ghosh, who played with Beebower and Batra in the band Picture Us Tiny, said their band makes sure to have fun first, which makes them comfortable with each other onstage.
“The way bands happen, they just happen,” Ghosh said. “You can’t explain how and why (they) get together, but it’s just magical to see it happen.”
The band first started practicing at Ghosh’s house, a music “incubator” that was open for all students while the COVID-19 pandemic left most areas closed. They moved to Herman’s South Campus apartment shortly after, setting up each of the instruments in the living room. Eventually, other sophomore bands used the space as well.
Parrish said she started to learn more about the bass at Herman’s house, taking hints on how to find certain octaves. Batra said the band was given the freedom to be as loud as possible with their jams. The band would perfect their combined sound at least three times a week leading up to a house show.
“It helps so much more when you’re playing around people that know more or are doing more,” Herman said. “It pushes you to catch up or be left behind,” he said.
The band continues to practice at Herman’s house, occasionally ordering pizza from Dorian’s Gourmet Pizza and Deli for their two-and-a-half-hour practices. Herman said he’s tried to come up with music on his own, but hated doing it. Parrish added that she also prefers to be around the band even when she’s coming up with lyrics on her own—something she’s started doing recently.
“When we wrote that song, it was like perfect harmony,” Parrish said about an unreleased track she wrote last week. “They were listening to the melody I was playing and they would go to the chord I was hearing in my head.”
Herman said he tries to come up with the chord progression for the band’s originals first. Batra then adds the lyrics, which can take as little as 10 minutes, like it did with their first single “On Your Own.” While the band plays covers at every show, Batra said that they feel closer to the songs that they write.
“Finding words is a lot easier than finding a story,” Batra said. “I write very simple words that are very catchy and it’s still a good story. It has a meaning but not in a metaphorical sense.”
“On Your Own” was released on Dec. 10. This semester, crowds have started to recite the song back to the band, even including a simple “hey, hey!” at a couple of moments during the track. Overall, the band’s covers and original content have blossomed this semester, bringing in a consistent fan base at house shows, Batra said.
“This was our training year, almost,” Batra said.
With the increased crowd at the “low stress” house shows, Studio89 was able to headline at Westcott Theater on April 14.
Instead of being on the same level as the audience, boxed into the corner of a basement or living room, the band was elevated and able to see every single one of the hundreds in attendance, Parrish said. Parrish thought she would be nervous, but they were at ease, watching the flashlights from cellphones swing back and forth as they stood on stage.
Beebower couldn’t hear himself because of how loud the hundreds in the crowd were singing lyrics back at the band.
“I’ve had one specific dream my whole life, with me on this massive stage and people singing back a song that I wrote,” Batra said. “It was a small version of it, but it was like ‘Holy shit, this is crazy.’”
Published on May 4, 2022 at 12:37 am