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Belmont branches out of locality, strums to succeed

Belmont branches out of locality, strums to succeed

Few bands with dreams of becoming famous are given the opportunity to grow to that point. Among those with that prospect is Belmont, a locally based garage band featuring members who, according to their fans, create a sound like no other.

Belmont was formed by lead guitarist Amal Sheth, a Maine East High School student, who started it as a side project with Joey Legittino, GBS junior and bassist of the band. According to Sheth, he met Belmont’s lead singer Taz Johnson, a student at Lane Tech High School, online and Legittino invited GBS junior Brian Lada to be the band’s drummer. The band met for their first practice in Chicago almost a year ago, which brought upon their name.

“Belmont was the first street we started practicing on,” Legittino said. “It was originally going to be Addison, but there are so many bands named Addison, and it sounded so girly and everything. We practiced [on Belmont] for a month and a half I think, and then we moved to [Lada’s] house.”

Since the formation of Belmont, the band has released music on websites such as Bandcamp and YouTube, while also making use of Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter to communicate with fans. Belmont’s official accounts feature photos of the band and music or announcements for upcoming concerts, including their Feb. 20 show at Bada Brew in Joliet, Illinois.

Many of Belmont’s members have diverse musical backgrounds, giving each member some knowledge on several different instruments. According to Legittino, he started singing at a young age then moved to guitar. After becoming dissatisfied with both, he learned bass in eighth grade, which he uses alongside occasional vocals with his bands. Lada had a similar musical background, bringing memories full of music from a young age.

“I started playing violin when I was five, so I did that until I was nine,” Lada said. “I also started playing guitar when I was seven and [continue to play]. Then, I started drums when I was eight. […] I got my first set, and I taught myself drums.”

The members’ individual distinctiveness combined to create a style that they consider to be “all over the place”, according to Legittino. Generally, the band defines itself as “hardcore pop-punk infused”, and they try not to stick to a single genre, due to the musical diversity each band member brings.

“We kind of come from different musical tastes that are around the same vicinity,” Legittino said. “I come from the older pop-punk and punk, [Lada] comes from metal, deathcore [and Johnson] comes from sad boy emo stuff.”

Most of the band’s song creation is credited to Johnson, according to his bandmates. Johnson, who also plays guitar, writes a large portion of the band’s music and lyrics. According to Johnson, he is always writing and the lyrics come from personal experiences throughout his life so far, from memories with friends to chasing girls.

“Well, I’m always playing guitar, so usually I’ll come up with some kind of guitar idea I really like, play around with it and work it until I finish it,” Johnson said. “So, sometimes it’s just a [spur]-of-the-moment idea [that] comes about and I can just sit down and [create it] or other times, over months, one song will come out.”

As a band, Belmont has many inspirations, from garage bands to those who made it beyond the local scene. According to Legittino and Lada, they look up to bands like Such Gold, Story So Far, Counterparts and Citizen, a band with whom Belmont had a recent experience through recording their new album. The band took a trip to Ohio to record their newest Extended Player (EP).

“We worked with Mat Kerekes, who’s the singer of Citizen,” Legittino said. “We wanted someone who knew our sound because then our EP will come out the way we really want it.”

According to Belmont, the purpose of the trip was to record their EP and have it sound professional. With that in mind, they made the trip to meet Kerekes and his brother, Chris, to record the album throughout three days of late nights, according to the band.

After the trip, the band recorded their EP titled Vicissitude, which was released to the public on Jan. 16. From the five new songs, Belmont also plans to produce a music video for their song “Empty Shelf” when they perform at Penny Road Pub on Feb. 7, according to Belmont’s official Facebook page. Another new step was the addition of their rhythm guitarist, Sam Patt, who had performed alongside Belmont with his old band before he left to join them.

“I like the guys,” Patt said. “They’re cool. They’re all pretty serious about their stuff. The EP they recorded sounds super awesome, […] and it’s a little different from what I’m used to, but it’s kind of cool to have a band that actually cares about the music.”

With Patt added to Belmont’s arsenal, they plan to expand and get their name heard—one of the band’s biggest challenges, according to Legittino. Sheth claims Belmont has something to them that sets them apart from other local bands.

“I think it’s that we work extremely hard to do what we do and we don’t stick to one specific genre, we kind of take some things from different genres and make our own sound,” Sheth said.

After the release of their new EP and plans for more shows, Belmont is trying to expand to new lengths, including their first show out of Illinois soon. With everything in line, band photographer Sean Maloney has high hopes for their future.

“I have a feeling they will [make it],” Maloney said. “I just have a gut feeling. There’s something about them that just screams success.”

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