Student band Atlas Bloom sees growth in popularity
Eric Tapper’s band, Atlas Bloom, played a show in the basement of Tumulty’s Pub last night, and Tapper reminisced when his former band began to take off in New Brunswick’s basement scene.
“At one point, we’re playing, and we have 600 people just absolutely banging their heads with us,” he said. “It was absolute madness. It was unreal. I can’t possibly explain to you. We were literally face to face with the front row.”
Yet Tapper, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said he and his group, Atlas Bloom, want to graduate from playing in intimate basement settings to entertaining in more mainstream venues.
“I want to get things going on a bigger scale just because I want to run it in a more commercial way so it’s more self-sustainable,” Tapper said. “[That way] we can keep making the music that we love.”
Atlas Bloom played at Tumulty’s Pub, located on George Street, last night in one of their first bookings at a conventional venue, said Josh November, the group’s bassist and backup vocalist.
November, a William Paterson University senior, said he would relish the opportunity to play at more mainstream establishments in the future.
“Some of the most fun I’ve ever had has been at those basement shows,” he said. “But I’m not trying to stay in the basement forever, and I’d like to be at the point where I can play the more legitimate venues regularly.”
Tapper said the group’s style is a mixture of rock, pop and indie, but is above all rock music. Bands such as Muse, Radiohead, Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear influence the band.
“We definitely have a rock mentality,” he said. “We like to play loudly, but we’re very proficient with our instruments.”
Atlas Bloom consists of three high school friends who all attend different universities and is certainly not a homogenous group, Tapper said. The trio includes a classically trained percussionist and a jazz musician who both have played at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.
Each band member’s musical background is quite different. Jason Funcheon, the band’s drummer and lead singer, graduated from The Juilliard School this year and is currently pursuing a master’s degree there. He said he only became interested in playing rock music as an upperclassman.
Funcheon said he enjoys the creative outlet provided by Atlas Bloom despite his distance from his band mates, who both reside in New Jersey, and the difficulty that comes with working around his school schedule.
He has played at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center with the Juilliard Orchestra, Funcheon said. November said he has played in the same hall at Lincoln Center and plays jazz for older audiences at bars, clubs and private parties in New York City.
He said he loves connecting with an audience in their own age group.
“One thing that has always struck me as really cool about the scene in New Brunswick is that everyone who we’re playing to is our age,” Funcheon said. “It’s rewarding for me to play music that my peers can relate to.”
He said he wants to strike a balance between the classical music he has been trained to play and the rock music he is occupied with now.
“From my perspective … it’s equally rewarding to play music that challenges me,” Funcheon said. “It’s so rewarding to play my own original music for people our age who can just get into it.”
Tapper, the band’s guitarist, backup vocalist and co-songwriter, has a background is in blues music, which he said adds another wrinkle to the group’s music.
“It kind of blends [the group’s style] into one homogenous sound,” he said.
Funcheon said he has needed to be musically versatile to combine his skill as a percussionist with singing and songwriting. He has never had any vocal training, so he attempts to use his percussion techniques to improve his singing.
Funcheon said he is forced to musically express himself in three ways: as a songwriter, singer and percussionist. Though the techniques involved in singing and drumming are obviously quite different, he said manages himself well.
“Music offers so many options for interpretation and making it special to you,” he said. “I’ve used a lot of what I know about that as a drummer to do it vocally.”
Atlas Bloom plans to release its first full-length album this winter after writing and recording it this summer at Water Music Studios in Hoboken, N.J., said Tapper.
Tapper said he hopes it will eventually lead him toward his childhood dream of playing at Madison Square Garden, but appreciates the unique atmosphere provided by New Brunswick shows.
“I think the intimacy you get at a New Brunswick show is just hard to find anywhere else,” he said.