When you think about the faces that have graced the covers of Rolling Stone magazine throughout the years, most all of them are immediately recognizable. But all that is about to change.
Rolling Stone announced its “So You Want To Be a Rock & Roll Star” contest Feb. 15. The magazine’s editors picked 16 bands that are set to compete for their chance to become the first unsigned band to make the cover.
The Gallery, made up of four men from New England, is one of the groups competing for the cover photo.
“We had no idea about the competition until we played at the Miami Music Festival,” said Ryan Cooney, drummer for the band. “A guy who came out and saw us play submitted us to the contest, so when we found out we were one of the 16 finalists, we were definitely excited.”
Fusing with Cooney to make their folk-rock ensemble are Brendan Cooney on lead vocals and guitar, Dave Mozdzanowski on bass and background vocals, and Shea Brennan on lead guitar.
The Gallery released its first full-length album, “If You Know What I Mean,” in 2008 and recently debuted its five-song EP, “Come Alive,” Feb. 22.
“We thought the timing was right to release these five songs, especially when we found out about the contest,” Cooney said. “We did an EP because, well, recording an album is really expensive.”
Though the boys hail from the North, Cooney said they moved to West Palm Beach Florida when they decided to take their music seriously. They then traveled the length of the country to begin recording “Come Alive” in California last summer.
“Come Alive” features five songs that combine raw rock ‘n’ roll riffs and genuine folk-lyricism.
“The new sounds have a more natural rock feeling,” Cooney said. “Like an artist, their first painting is never their best, so we’ve always been trying to come into what we’re comfortable with writing and the sound we’re going for.”
Cooney said the boys favor bands that do a good job of replicating their live shows.
“We didn’t want to over-do it in the studio,” he said. “I think we’ve all had a pretty good idea of what we’re going for since the beginning.”
The gang kicked off a tour in honor of its new EP and to spread the word about their music and the contest.
“We’re not doing anything really crazy because we’re so busy with the contest and hopefully playing at South by Southwest,” Cooney said. “We’re just playing five or six shows along the East Coast.”
The Gallery played its first show of the tour in its hometown, Wilbraham, Mass., Feb. 23 and is set to play at Freebird in Jacksonville Beach March 3.
While the guys are excited about the competition, Cooney said even without it, they would continue to do what they love: creating music.
“It’s an exciting opportunity,” he said. “What we’ve been saying is if it weren’t for this competition, we would keep writing, touring and performing.”
The winner of the competition not only nabs the cover of Rolling Stone but will also sign a record deal with Atlantic Records. Only eight artists will advance to the second round, where they get to work in the studio with a major producer. Round four is the most exciting though, in which the final two bands will compete in a battle of the bands on stage at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tenn., in June.
The first round of voting ends March 2 at midnight, so go to voteforthegallery.com, click on the Rolling Stone Widget, then click the fifth star to vote for The Gallery. The band is donating 10 cents to nonprofit Invisible Children for every post and share the website receives.
The Gallery lives up to its name by showcasing each song on “Come Alive” with such depth and detail, it’s as if you were rummaging through a gallery of creations. Warren Huart, who has produced albums for The Fray, Augustina and Hot Hot Heat, produced the five-song EP. With a sound not unlike The Wallflowers, The Gallery’s collection of tunes are melodically smooth, breathtakingly composed and will send a haunting chill down your spine.
“Ballroom of Broken Hearts”- Poignant and heart-wrenching lyrics describe an eerily sad scene similar to that of a Tim Burton film. “She promenades into the dark/ I let her run cause she never gets far/ Until she turns around into my arms/ And we’re dancing in the ballroom of our broken hearts.”
“Who’s in the Right” – The boys harmonize mid-song during this gritty rock ‘n’ roll jingle and beg the question of its title. “We’ll drop bombs all day and night/ ‘Til the other ones down and out of sight/ Seems we cant move on without a fight/ Who’s in the wrong and who’s in the right?”
“Catalyst”- Beginning the song with “You once lit me up like a cigarette,” we can already tell this tune is going to continue burning long after the song has faded. Brendan’s slightly rough vocals on this track blend with his sweet and vulnerable vocals on songs like “Last Goodbye” to coincide perfectly with the lyrics.
“Last Goodbye”- With a Bryan Adams feel, this tune catches our attention by proclaiming about lost loves, which is something to which we can all relate. “I caught you staring in the eyes of somebody else/ And now you’re leaving for the dark side of yourself/ But you’ll see me again/ You’ll see me when you close your eyes.”
“Free”-This tune takes a refreshing spin on love compared to the other tracks. “I myself want everything/ The world and all its offering/ It’s a beautiful day you see/ Cause I got you and baby you got me.” As the weather begins to warm, this song is lined with the excitement summer beginning and as it comes to an end it leaves you begging for more.