Despite setbacks, Livingroom debuts new EP


Photo courtesy of Danny McNeela

Band Brothers: Posing for a photoshoot over the summer, Livingroom Band works hard to keep playing music during the pandemic. With excitement, the band recently released their first EP, titled Honeybee.

Betsy Jarsoick, staff writer

Beginning with the Freshman act in South’s Variety Show, Livingroom Band has continued to grow with the support of their fans. Senior band members Danny McNeela, guitarist and vocalist, Jeremy Bernstein, bassist and guitarist, Lev Sheinfeld, pianist and vocalist, and Sam Collett, drummer, all have high hopes for the band’s future.

In August, Livingroom was able to record their first studio Extended Play (EP). While it was not easy during a pandemic, the band made it work with voice memos sent via text messages, countless garage practices, many reruns and eventually, recording in a socially distanced studio, Collett explained.

“After quarantine, we actually kind of became a real ‘garage band’ because it’s easy to social distance in the garage and leave the door open for ventilation,” McNeela said. “As far as the impact on the material went, we all got a chance to work on the craft of our songs a lot. That allowed us to prepare for our studio recording.”

In the weeks leading up to Livingroom’s recording session they put in hours of practice, but according to Collett the preparation did not start there, the songs they recorded had been in the works for about two years. All of this preparation led up to their long-awaited recording session in Chicago last month. In circumstances that were a bit unusual, it certainly did not disappoint, Collett said.

“[Recording in the studio] was a really great experience,” Sheinfeld said. “We were able to all play live together. We were in different rooms, but we all heard each other. That was all that really mattered to me, being able to play live.”

The group did not get this far alone, as they had support from teachers and countless peers at South. One person who has been especially important to the band’s development is Jenna Kim, South alumni and 2020 graduate. She helped Livingroom craft their EP’s design and take all the photos for their album, Collett explained. Kim created the band’s graphic design logo and digital art for their merchandise. Working with the group allowed Kim to see how important the EP is to the band, she explained.

“We’ve been working on the EP cover as well as the CD design since July and we only just finalized everything [in September],” Kim said. “Oftentimes [the band] would give me the smallest tweaks, like moving the text a pixel to the right. However, I never minded because I understand that this EP means a lot to them and I will do anything to generate the perfect product for them.”

Being in the band has impacted the members outside of music as well, teaching a lot about honesty when it comes to creating and working with a group, Sheinfeld said. Sheinfeld learned how to provide constructive criticism to his bandmates, to his friends, but also how to recognize and praise the work of others when it may be better than your own, he explained. Additionally, Sheinfeld expressed his appreciation of having the ability to make music with his bandmates who supported each other’s music and creativity.

“At first, I was very apprehensive about sharing songs I’d written because even though they’re not incredibly personal, it’s still my work and I’m being judged for it,” Mcneela said. “I think gaining traction and gaining momentum and gaining support for the band has boosted my confidence in myself and in my songwriting ability.”