Maria Mar’s Local Radar: First To Friday & The Project

Locals, we meet again. Putting a dent into March already, time flies when you’re listening to music I suppose! Every week I try to dedicate this column to up-and-coming musicians, and even acts that have been active for quite some time. As we have seen over the past few months, there are countless amounts of talent here in New Jersey, and I truly believe it’s more than most states. We have a unified scene like no other, supporting each act with shows, socials, competitions and more. This week, I am going to focus on some young, fresh, unique bands that are out pursuing their dreams early in life. I find it so inspiring to see these groups and artists who idolize musicians that are way past their time, doing everything from covers to originals. Plus, these bands are not just co-workers; they are friends, and sometimes family. They handled the process right, found the correct people who were willing to start a band, and dedicate their passion and time to making it work. Being in a band is an outstanding inspired outlet that takes dedication and determination. This week, I am going to talk about two young bands that exemplify these traits.

You may recognize First To Friday them by their old name, Reality Check, but with a new name and sound, they are on the fast track to success. I met them about a year ago at The Break Contest for Bamboozle, and it was an instant connection. They are also competing for this year’s Skate And Surf Festival in Freehold. The initial trait that drew me to them first was their positive energy and outgoing personalities. They were so engaging with their fans—some as young as six years old—wearing their t-shirts and singing their songs. They have that type of unabashed power pop that manages to cross over various audiences and genres, and somehow appeal to everyone they come in contact with. These guys definitely have talent, showcasing fine vocals, pleasant harmonies, worthy songs and deep lyrics. This is the kind of good-hearted prevalent music you don’t find anymore these days.

Dana, Michael, Tom, Billy, and Ryan are all from different towns and complete the perfect puzzle for musical success. They’ve already played many famous venues including The Stone Pony and Count Basie Theatre, and I honestly see nothing stopping them on the road to stardom. Another element that attracts me to them is they get involved with a lot of benefits and charitable events, which is always a plus, no matter who you are. They are building the solid groundwork foundation that they need to get started as an artist, via social media, playing shows, and building a fanbase. It’s amazing how such young people can create such great music, all co-writing on the songs, if not writing them entirely themselves. Plain and simple, the fact that they play their own instruments, sing, and write the music just makes it that much more frank. First To Friday are not like the young groups of dancing dudes that are made by a record company. They are a real band, and deserve every inch of success they get. I cannot wait to see how they evolve as they mature. Their awesome new single, “Now It’s Gone,” is available on iTunes. It exemplifies their distinctive ability to write pop songs that you would never get out of your head. Be sure to check them out, and wish them the best of luck on their journey to Skate And Surf!

Next, I want to chat about a band I discovered recently at The Break Contest named The Project. I instantly fell in love with the name, and was intrigued by their mass amounts of fans wearing their shirts and other merchandise. I knew there must be something special if they had that many fans in the room, and I was right. They are a full set, with theatrical performances, harmonies, and fresh sounds. They nail everything down from slight choreography, crowd interaction, and enthusiasm. I almost felt as if I was watching a rock musical, in the best way possible. The only thing missing was a set and costumes, for they entertained me to a whole new level than what I am used to seeing at a show. I was honored to have judged them, as their live set blew me away. They are also very young, with a very bright future ahead of them.

The Project are from Freehold, and while they’ve only been a band for less than a year, already have a lot more ahead of them than many groups that have been together for years. They are very active on social media and in the local scene, and I feel that many people will be finding out about them in the near future. There is no band out there right now—who I am aware of, at least—that comes close to their style, sound, image, and performance. Most groups think they need to get their music heard by the right people in order to get some attention when in theory, all it took was four songs to get me buzzing about them. Be sure to check them out, as I have a feeling they will be a household name in no time. I am already a proud owner of one of their t-shirts, and listen to their music while in the kitchen cooking, busting a move. Picture that image in your head and I am sure you will come along for the ride!

Having written these articles for some time now, I’ve noticed that music doesn’t really have everything to do with the dynamic of bands. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you have to provide music, of course, and it has to be somewhat decent, but that isn’t the whole purpose or recipe for success. In fact, being able to stand one another, get along, and understand each member is the most important part. Think about it, if things ever go sour in one form or another, having your bandmates’ backs is what will make you as opposed to break you. First To Friday and The Project are just two examples of bands that are young and unified like families; you can hear it in their songs and see it in their performances. I hope you check both of them out, look into their tour dates, and get out to support them. Even if you only just dreamed of being in a band, these young ones are living it out—embrace it with them. I will be back next week with some more local talent for your liking, and in the meantime, keep supporting the rockin’ state of New Jersey!