By Kate Halse
Local teen band recently competed in, and won “Rock to the Top,” a competition for local bands that was held at The Stone Pony on February 9. The band’s next appearance will be in the semi-final competition, which is set for Sunday, March 23.
The band, which was formed in 2010, consists of Ricky Webber (keyboard, vocals), Tyler Volk (drums, vocals), Domenico Randazzo (guitar, drums, vocals) and TJ Coon (electric guitar, bass guitar, vocals). The band plays a number of musical genres, covering everything from rock to pop and rap to R&B. Art of Play covers their own versions of popular tunes as well as original compositions.
The first round of the competition helped to build confidence among the band members, making the semi-final round less daunting. Randazzo, a Morristown High School student, notes, “Winning round one at the Stone Pony is definitely a huge confidence builder, and will only make it easier for us the next time since we’re used to the stage and the sound system.” Coon adds, “We were really happy to win. I think our confidence will help bring us to the semi-finals.”
Both Webber and Volk, a student at Randolph High School, mentioned that the win “felt really good” and that it was a great feeling knowing that the judges picked their band to go on to the semi-final round.
All of the band members agree that their age and versatility is what helps to set them apart from the other performers. Many of the performers at “Rock to the Top” were considerably older than the members of Art of Play, who are all in high school.
The band members also point out that their ability to take on different roles and switch things up makes them stand out from their competitors. Webber and Volk cite the various talents within the group, explaining that although everyone has a set role within the band, they are able to play different instruments when needed.
According to Randazzo, “Other competitors are very restricted by the type of genre that they play, whether it’s rock, pop, or hip-hop.” He explains that while other bands “are restricted to one sound,” Art of Play “is able to pull of performing multiple genres, including our original songs.” Randazzo says, “One second we could be covering a Beatles tune, and the next second we could be playing an Eminem song. It keeps the audience on their toes.”
Webber also says that the band’s “competitive drive” helped take them to the next round of competition.
Shortly after the band formed, it started by performing at a number of community events throughout the state. Art of Play successfully auditioned for a spot on the famous Apollo stage in New York City for “Amateur Night at the Apollo.” The band competed in the “Stars of Tomorrow” category, beating out all of their other competitors for a first place finish and going on to the “Show Off” round.
The band does most of its recording in its basement studio, including the song “Love Struck,” which is currently available on iTunes. When they are not performing live, the members of Art of Play enjoy songwriting and recording.