“When we formed the band, none of us knew how to play instruments.”
SWIM, a local Stony Brook band whose Facebook page describes them as “precise, dramatic and dynamic rock music,” did not get a start like any other college band.
“In January 2010, we were all in ninth grade, we formed a band,” lead singer Daniel McCaffrey, a sophomore nursing major at Stony Brook, said. “We wrote up a contract and everything, it was very official, saying that we were gonna be band mates. I think we spent the first five months learning how to play one Coldplay song.”
Many college bands form from a passion of turning their musical talents into something more, but SWIM’s start was sparked from the simple mind set of most high school teenagers—“Why not?”
“The genesis of the band was not ability but friendship,” guitar player and pianist Justin Iaquinta, a sophomore business major at Stony Brook, said. “There are many bands that have people that can all play, but it was mostly about communication between us as band members.”
SWIM is comprised of five band members: McCaffrey, the lead singer; Nick Riviezzo, who plays guitar and synth; Iaquinta, who plays guitar and piano; Tyler Aigotti, who plays bass; and Brian D’Angio who plays drums.
McCaffrey, Riviezzo and Iaquinta all attend Stony Brook University, while Aigotti and D’Angio are juniors at Ward Melville High School. Though the band has lost and gained different members along the way, the dynamic of the band still remains the same: to have fun while making great music.
“I feel like every group of friends at some point is like ‘Hey, let’s start a band’ but not many get the chance to actually do it,” Riviezzo, a sophomore computer engineering major, said.
On Mondays and Saturdays, the five guys meet up in Iaquinta’s basement or garage to play. Practices usually run for about three hours and could vary from learning covers for a show to going through creative sessions and practicing some original music.
Sometimes, the band even has sleepover practices, a combination of playing music and hanging out until 2 or 3 a.m.
This has not happened in a while, as over the years each band practice has gotten more scheduled and serious.
“Our practices are becoming very refined,” Riviezzo said. “We’re getting to the point where we know what we want to work on and it all just comes down to knowing our parts.”
Naturally, getting sidetracked is hard to avoid. McCaffrey said the group is often sidetracked by talking about school or work during practices. McCaffrey, Riviezzo and Iaquinta all have jobs on top of work, school and playing in the band.
“You have to set yourself sometime to study and then any other waking moment you have you dedicate to a show or getting to a practice or coming up with new material,” McCaffrey said. “It’s a little demanding.”
And while SWIM does struggle with the internal debate of pursuing an education versus being full-time musicians, each band member has tried to balance between the two work.
Iaquinta transferred from Geneseo after his freshman year to attend Stony Brook and be in the band full time.
Both Aigotti and D’Angio are factoring SWIM into their college decision-making.
Iaquinta, however, says he does not like to separate his college education from his dedication to the band.
“I’m a business major, so everything I learn in business I can apply to the music industry in some way,” Iaquinta said.
SWIM’s first demo, “Natural Feeling,” was released on bandcamp this past December. Only three of SWIM’s songs are currently recorded because of the difficulty behind getting a good recording.
“Natural Feeling” was recorded by D’Angios father in his basement and while the band said the recording was pretty muddy and low quality, they wanted to get something online in hopes of it bringing in more gigs.
McCaffrey said the band has a dozen songs completed but not recorded, and the boys have a bunch of ideas in mind for future songs.
The band members hope they will be able to record more songs and be able to release a five-song EP by the end of the summer. But even after releasing the anticipated EP, SWIM has no intentions of stopping there.
“We want to be as big as we can,” McCaffrey said. “I don’t think it’s that crazy to say we want to be the biggest band in the world. A professional but personable group that is good to its fan and is charitable. We want to spread the wealth and be activists not just musicians.”
SWIM already has performances lined up for the next couple of months. The group will be preforming on March 27, at The Basement in Port Jeff and in Tabler Quad on March 28 of this year.
SWIM will also be performing at Earthstock and will be holding a few shows at The Bench in the upcoming weeks. Any updates about shows can be found on the group’s Facebook page.
SWIM is aware of the struggles it will face on the path to fame, but the band is optimistic and ready for the challenge.
“I’m either going to die or make it. One way or another,” Iaquinta said.