I once read the thrill of playing music — for a musician — is creating sounds the musician hasn’t heard before, or that are in some way new to the musician.
For this reason, it’s a gift to our musical community when something new comes along, such as The Roof, a State College area band that includes Skyler Scholl on drums, Ivan Zvorksy on bass, Francis Musaraca on guitar and vocals and Jacob Finkbiner on lead guitar and vocals. The band of mostly Penn State seniors formed in the spring 2016 semester at Penn State Altoona, Scholl wrote in an email, describing The Roof’s sound as “alternative blues rock.”
“Our music is best described as a mixture of hues between rock ‘n’ roll and blues, with soul and folk undertones,” Scholl wrote. “Sometimes the undertones come into the forefront as the foundation and leave the rock & blues to serve as the support beams. In a sense it’s a genre-filled Lazy Susan, if you will.”
As young as they are, The Roof has already released “Tangled Lives” a 2018 EP, and has played gigs both in and out of State College, including Stage AE in Pittsburgh and other notable venues within driving distance. The band has classic rock and/or jam band influences such as Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers and The Grateful Dead, and has also been influenced by The Lumineers, Cage the Elephant and even Van Morrison. However, The Roof is not a cover band, with the EP in the books and an LP on the way. Indeed, songwriting is a cornerstone of the band’s vibe.
“Our intention is to always write with intention and a different purpose may require a different seasoning to get the point across,” Scholl wrote. “We try to stay true to the art and hope to convey feelings that other people may have about a situation, in a way that has never been done before, as any great song does.”
Along with the youth and newness comes a mode of discovery, even simply related to how the band will function, and it’s something The Roof seems to thrive on, as is evident by their determination to get out there and play.
“We just got back from our first tour, which was booked by Ivan and I,” Scholl wrote. “I had no clue how to book a tour, but read a lot of forums and asked fellow artists for any advice they were willing to give. I cold-called a bunch of venues and It turned out to be a life-changing experience.”
Once they committed to their tour, the members of The Roof went all in and got a big taste of what it means to living in tight quarters with no place to call home, working day to day to make ends meet.
“We bought a 1997 Chevy Gladiator Van with no AC, named her Gladys, and embarked on our perilous insurance-less journey,” Scholl wrote. “Some nights we played to the bartender, and some nights turned out to be extraordinarily better than we could have imagined. We met so many amazing people in doing so, and found some couches to sleep on.”
It’s great that this band is rooted right here in State College, and that we’ll likely all get a chance to see and hear much more of them. As for now, The Roof has a gig lined up at 3 Dots Downtown Sept. 12 from noon-1 p.m., and is planning to keep up with recording original material.
“We are back home, planning to record and get a single or two out before the end of the year,” Scholl wrote, “play locally (Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York), and start booking a bigger spring tour.”
As for the type of music the band will be rolling out, Scholl mused about what he feels is the best music in the music industry today, noting it’s coming from the bands that mean it, that work hard, and that put their music out there as something new and viable. It all starts with livin’ true.
“We just play what we dig, and try to do it to the best of our ability. We got a chance to meet one of our favorite influences, Matt Shultz of Cage The Elephant, and he paraphrased Bob Dylan ... if there is a sound already out in the airwaves that you desire to create, there is no need to create it. In other words, you should make music that you think touches a realm that hasn’t been tapped into yet, and we try to live by that.”
And that seems to be working just fine for The Roof, a newer group of enthusiastic young musicians who — for now — call State College home, and who understand music is meant to be performed.
“During a performance, at its best, (is) being in a flow state with the guys (that) could be described as euphoric, and even telepathic. I think if you strip away all other aspects of our sound and art, chemistry is something that is always present musically between the four of us, and it really shines through when were on.”