The love of Green Day brought the final member of Stay Loud to the band, but the musicians’ shared passion for creating good music solidified the quartet.
Lead guitarist Gerald Tulao, bassist C.J. Davenport and drummer Justin Ratowski spent several months writing music without a singer before coming across Chris Cashmere, who happened to be looking for a band.
“We both met during the Phoenix Performing Arts Centre production of ‘American Idiot.’ … I knew he’d be perfect,” Tualo said.
From that moment on, the group worked toward recording music and playing live shows in and around Northeast Pennsylvania. The members recently went On the Record to discuss their last year as a pop-punk troupe and what the future has in store for Stay Loud.
Q: Where did your band name come from?
Gerald Tulao: One night after a band practice, we went out to eat and we discussed potential names. We all had the homework assignment to make up a list of 10 names. Chris’ list had the name Stay Loud, and after many discussions, we knew that would be our name.
Q: How did you each get involved in music?
Chris Cashmere: Well I got into music after listening to Green Day’s “American Idiot” for the first time. It changed my life, and ever since then that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.
GT: When I was younger, I started listening to a lot of music, and I wanted to play an instrument. Most of my friends were playing sports, and I knew I wanted to do something that was different and stood out. I originally wanted to play drums, but there was no room in the house for a set. So I settled on guitar and loved it since.
Justin Ratowski: I got involved through Northwest High school’s concert band. I just kind of came home one day and was like, “Mom, Dad … I play the drums now. I hope that’s fine, OK? OK.”
C.J. Davenport: Boredom, mostly.
Q: What do you remember about the first time you performed in public together?
CC: A little nervous but excited because it was the beginning to all the great shows we have come to do.
GT: I was very eager to get on that stage. I counted down the days to our first show. Sure, I was nervous because it was our first gig and a new band for me, but I knew if we messed up, let’s face it, no one would notice.
Q: What is your process for writing music?
GT: Sometimes Chris is at home and writes something cool on his acoustic guitar and sends us a rough demo of his idea. Sometimes we’re all practicing, and after a jam session, some ideas would come out of that. Sometimes C.J. or myself would be playing around with a guitar riff we’ve made up, and it would catch Chris’ attention and end up becoming a song. The process is endless, and we have a lot to work with.
Q: How have you changed over the years?
GT: We’ve only been a band for a year, and even then during that short amount of time we can say there was some growth in us as a band. We’ve definitely gotten more used to communicating with each other as we write music. We all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses at this point. We use this to our advantage to write music that we’ll be happy with.
Q: What are some favorite memories?
CC: Definitely recording. It was such a good time, as well as the time we played NOISE (music festival) and playing my birthday show. It was an amazing night at the Irish Wolf Pub.
GT: Releasing the EP to me was a big achievement. When I was younger, I always dreamed of having my own album or EP released. That was an amazing moment, letting people hear what we wrote. When we performed at the Ground Floor in Williamsport and the many times we’ve played the Irish Wolf Pub in Scranton, I’ve had a blast. But the one show I can say that we played that I feel was our best was when we played at the music festival NOISE at (Luzerne County Community College) back in August.
Q: How has the NEPA music scene changed over the years?
CC: There used to be so many more venues in the area and so many more opportunities.
GT: Due to the lack of venues, it’s definitely hard for bands like us to find a place to play. The great thing about this music scene on the other hand is the fact that all these bands have each other’s backs. We’re all battling the same struggles for success. This is a cool scene with many talented bands that deserve the best.
Q: Have you faced any major challenges as a rising band?
GT: Being that all the members of this band all have day and night jobs, it’s a bit of a hassle trying to find time to get together to write and practice. When we do get together, we make sure to get stuff done. Now, sure, we mess around a lot and spend a lot of time looking at memes, but in the end we always accomplish something after a band practice. Another challenge is the fact that there’s not many places in the area to perform at. We’d have to play a show that’s a two-hour drive away, but in the end it’s worth it.
Q: What are your future goals for the band?
GT: We are currently writing songs for our debut album. We look forward to going into the studio to record these tunes and release them. This coming summer, we also plan on going out on our first tour.