On a Saturday morning this August, a soul-full sound emanates from the second floor of a dilapidated house on Ackerman Avenue. A keen listener can pick out the keyboard, guitar, bass, saxophone, and lead vocals that make up NONEWFRIENDS., a band comprised of five Syracuse University students, Elizabeth Stuart ’22, Jack Harrington ’22, Jackson Siporin ’22, Peter Groppe ’22, and Scott Greenblatt ’21.
Since forming two years ago, the band has grown a following. They have 1,200 Instagram followers, 94,000 total Spotify streams (@nonewfriends.music) and thousands of views on music and lyric videos. They released their most recent song, The Hook, two weeks ago on Apple Music and Spotify, and it has been streamed over 3,000 times. They plan to release two more singles before the end of the year, all while working on a longer EP.
“I think that anyone could be doing this,” said Jackson Siporin, the band’s saxophone player and co-founder. “We don’t spend any money.”
The band’s name originated their first year when the members felt like they hadn’t made any new friends in their first semester at SU. In the years that followed, the name has become somewhat ironic. Siporin says that in addition to the talented musicians, the group has recruited dozens of talented photographers, designers, videographers, publicists, and students with social media experience from across the university.
“There are the people in the band, but there are so many more,” said Siporin. “We created a community in and outside of the shows. From the people holding up the lights in the videos to those singing backup, it’s accessible if you create a collective that cares.”
Siporin says that the key to building this type of collective is to make people feel like they are a part of something, and make it known that they have a stake in it too. He says that any success the band has is shared by everyone that had a hand in it, from the lead singer to the graphic designer who made the cover art.
But many hands don’t necessarily make light work. Siporin and the other band members remember staying in Belfer Archives, Laboratory and Studio, part of SU Libraries, until 2:00 a.m. many nights last spring.
“We would spend 3 hours listening to the same 10 seconds,” Siporin said. “But that’s just the music industry.”
The hard works pays off when the song is a hit though. After releasing their first song, “Already Gone,” on a Thursday night last December, they played a show Friday night. When Elizabeth Stuart sang the lyrics, which were written by Peter Groppe, everyone in the room sang with her. Siporin looked at Groppe as they played in front of the room filled with people and smiled.
“I’m never going to forget that moment. To have one person sing back a lyric you wrote in your bedroom,” Siporin said. “That feeling is amazing.”
Now part of the band lives together, and COVID-19 has put any in-person shows on hold. But, the group still practices weekly, writing new songs together and learning covers. They are producing videos for the upcoming song releases and working on building a following on TikTok. They plan to sell merch with the band’s logo, and they are also looking to recruit a drummer to join them.
Siporin has no intention of slowing down and has big dreams for the future of the band.
“If I go on a Europe tour with NONEWFRIENDS., I’d be satisfied,” he said.
Story by Patrick Linehan ‘21, LaunchPad Global Fellow