Drawing heavily on classic and modern rock influences, including the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and even the Cure, the songs are a bit dark and atmospheric, but with a strong pop sensibility and solid song structure and lyrics.
Since the Once Was vocalist and guitarist Frank Cervantes was in eighth grade, he’s been writing and recording songs. But three years ago, the Moorestown, N.J., native found himself playing with three other Moorestown kids—drummer Troy Clark, bassist Josh Dowiak and guitarist and pianist Jason Luber—and the four officially formed their band.
“I’ve been writing songs and playing out forever, and I feel like bringing together these four guys was the fruition of everything I’ve worked for since I was a kid,” Cervantes says. “Now, it’s all coming together in this happy end-of-a-movie kind of way, where everyone cries because I get to play on a big stage with my friends.”
The Once Was is set to headline the World Cafe Live to celebrate the release of their new EP Rugged City , just as they did earlier this year when they celebrated the release of their first LP in April. “That was something we worked on our whole life, just to get there, downstairs, to headline, and this will be our third time this year. Every show’s been getting bigger,” Cervantes says, not without a tinge of awe.
The five tracks on Rugged City capture the band’s grandiose, full sound. Drawing heavily on classic and modern rock influences, including the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and even the Cure, the songs are a bit dark and atmospheric, but with a strong pop sensibility and solid song structure and lyrics.
“The last record was really mellow, really laid back, but this one is a ‘let’s dance’ kind of thing,” Cervantes explains. “That’s what we set out for, to pick this tune up, get people dancing, make ourselves dance. I think we’ve always been committed to making music we would want to listen to ourselves.” ■
Fri., Oct. 29, 7:30pm. $15. With Human People + Blue Hippopotamus. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400. worldcafelive.com