Student Spotlight: Red Oak Lane
Red Oak Lane is no longer just home to Rutgers’ Passion Puddle. It’s also the name of Rutgers’ latest and greatest musical product. The five gentlemen above have swept the New Brunswick scene with their soulful, smooth, sexy style. They’ve got it all: crafty lyrics, unique sounds like the cello and vocal scatting, charisma, and pure joy. Seriously, they don’t stop smiling on stage. Put all that together and you’ve got Red Oak Lane.
I wanted to get to know the guys on a more personal level, so we ditched the usual, mundane interview format and had a little fun. Introducing the members of Red Oak Lane.
Sheldon Nguyen: Alright, boring stuff out of the way first. Name, age, year in school, role in Red Oak Lane, address, SSN, etc. Whatever you want readers and fans to know about you.
Richard Alexander: Age: 20
School year: Junior/senior-ish thingy. It’s my third year, but I will finish in the fall.
Address: 4 Redoak Ln Apt JK, New Brunswick, NJ
Blood type: O-
Red Oak Lane’s keyboard and gospel ambassador
I’m not sure what you want for background, but I’m an EMT for a couple of different agencies as well as a BLS instructor (and a student majoring in biology). I play piano for ROL and my life is pretty boring otherwise. I guess I like music a lot, too. So I got that going for me…
SN:So you’re the Red Oak Lane rookie. What hazing did you have to go through to earn such a coveted position?
RA: Oh, it was pretty easy. I just had to promise my first born to Lady Gaga. (joking)
There was really none. I met everyone in the band at one time or another prior to everyone getting together. Chris and I met up to jam with the loop station and came up with some pretty cool stuff. After that, we all got together and wrote/played music a bit. The rest is pretty much history. I guess you could call the playing really fun music part hazing if you really want to, but that might be a stretch.
SN: I see you’re growing out the fade since the last time I saw you. Any reason? Historically, who has rocked the greatest fade top?
RA: I was going for dreads initially as a joke. My friends were split 50/50 on the idea. Half thought it would be cool and the other half threatened to shave me bald when I fell asleep. To appease the masses, I settled with a fade. (plus haircuts are cheaper and less frequent.) As far as greatest (aside from myself ~side note: this is a joke~) I’m torn between Will Smith and MC Hammer. On one hand you have royalty (which should be greatly respected when it comes from the mean streets of Bel-air). On the other is a great performer with hair that is just too legit to quit. In the end, I have admit the faded flat top will always be Hammer’s time. You can try and mimic M.C. Hammer, but you just can touch that.
SN: What is the compression-to-breath ratio during infant CPR? Kidding. You certified me in CPR last semester. How’d you get involved in that?
RA:Trick question. Depends on the number of providers and level of ca…. ah. Trying to get free training I see…Jokes aside. Yes I am a Basic Life support (CPR) instructor. I started off working with Rutgers as an EMT about 2 years ago and eventually got my Certification as a BLS instructor. I’ve had the pleasure of tormenting unsuspecting victims teaching people how to save a life ~cue The Fray here~ for the past year.
P.S.I hope you remember Rich’s Number one Rule to the A.E.D. ™
SN: Favorite thing about being a part of Red Oak Lane?
RA:That’s a tough question. There’s a lot of things I really like about being in ROL. I would have to say the people. Not just the band members, but everyone that is even remotely involved. It’s rare to find people as talented and driven as everyone in the band (especially considering we all happened to just stumble upon each other more or less). Aside from that, the support and response we’ve gotten from everyone in the short amount of time we’ve been doing this is really amazing. Like, some fans already established the name Oakies. Next stop is a war between the Little Monsters, Beliebers and Oakies. Kidding. But I really do love everyone involved with this project, both directly and indirectly. So I would have to say that they are my favorite thing.
Tim Lay: Senior
Red Oak Lane’s guitar nerd / the quiet one
SN: We’ve been friends for our entire lives (PROOF), so I know you used to dance. Why’d you pick guitar over dancing?
TL: Well I actually was playing guitar for 8 years before I even started dancing. But I was originally drawn to dancing (specifically the bboy scene) because of the strong sense of community and brotherhood the scene embodies. It gave me a creative outlet that I’ve never explored before. But after dancing and not playing music for almost a year I started getting that itching feeling like something was missing. I finally realized what it was when I picked up my guitar again. I feel bad for leaving the scene but I try my best to look back and bring things I learned from bboying to music. For example, the philosophy of dancing has really carried over to my musicianship, especially when it comes to originality and developing my own style.
SN: Why did you start playing guitar?
TL: I always wanted to play but I didn't know how to bring it up to my parents because I was playing clarinet at the time and playing guitar was sort of like the instrument that symbolized sex and drugs and bad things. But there was something about the sound of a guitar that I was drawn to, specifically in blues music. I guess it is because of how vocal and organic blues players make the guitar sound. So anyway, in eighth grade I would tell my parents that I'm going to a friend's house to study but secretly he was giving me electric guitar lessons. Eventually they gave in and let me borrow a guitar from my uncle and that’s how I got my start.
SN: Got any originals for us?
TL: Yeah I write a lot. My original material is really different from Red Oak Lane's sound though! In fact, everyone in our band writes music. As a musician, songs and music just come up when you have something to say. Some of our songs become a part of Red Oak Lane but we kind of just stick the others in our back pockets and take them out whenever we want to relive a memory or feeling. We are kind of always writing, even “finished” songs are constantly worked on and jammed on. We try to keep our live shows fresh and play the songs the way we feel like playing them in the moment. I know Abel is really about that life and I guess it has rubbed off on all of us.
SN: So you guys are 3 for 3 in Battle of the Bands competitions. How’s it feel?
TL: It feels awesome! Especially because one of the mantra's behind our songwriting and live playing is to let our personalities shine through. So to have people react so positively to us is really the best compliment we could possibly receive. Before I finish I just want to take a second to thank everyone that has liked our page on Facebook, checked us out live and spread the word about us. It helps us more than you can imagine. We want to write music and perform for as long we can and your support is what drives us!
Chris Yacone: Age: 22 Years Old
Role: My Role in ROL? Haha get it?.. I help with the music aspect of songs, write the words and such, which allows me to express my nutty ideas. I sing too, I guess that might be important to say...maybe.
Major: Cellular Biology and Neuroscience (CBN)
Hobbies: Singing to myself, the occasional drink, doing impressions, mixing up words
Other non-ROL skills: Being talkative, Gymnastics, knowing 200 digits of pi, rubiks cubes, basic programming, Piano, Guitar..etc.
SN: What’s the story behind the bear hat? (Or whatever animal it is that you’re rockin’.)
CY: That dismembered hat I wear is actually a Sock Monkey Hat™, believe it or not. Rumor has it that it grants the wearer magical powers of lyrical finesse and beltastic vocals. All of this comes at the cost of their sanity, of course.
SN:I watched you win a karaoke contest last semester. Tell the people how it all went down.
CY: Haha, oh geez. Well, I heard there was a contest at the Golden Rail for the hefty sum of a One-Thousand dollar prize pool. There are some pretty crazy pictures of the outfit I wore for the final round on facebook.
SN: So you beatbox?
CY: Yes! This is actually my first musical venture! I’ve been beatboxing since I was a wee lad!
SN: How’d the name Red Oak Lane come about?
CY: Tim wrote a good summary of how our band came about on our website, redoaklanemusic.com. Please check it out if you want to know our story!
Abel Tabares: 22 yrs old
Red Oak Lane’s percussionist / musical sensei
Graduated May 2013 w/ Degree in Performance Percussion
SN: Favorite item(s) to drum on besides actual drums?
AT: Well I enjoy playing the cymbals more than the drums but I guess that would be considered to be part of a drum set. I do enjoy playing on weird objects like bells/chimes and cello cases.
SN: Looks like you’re looping your percussion in the “Sweater Weather” Cover (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vgw4Kfnt3Aw). Can you explain how that works? Any plans for live looping?
AT: That is Chris’ loop station and by simply pressing a track button, once to start the loop and again to end it, you can loop whatever you want for however long you want. Nifty little device. Live looping actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea. I’m sure we can do something with that.
SN: I stalked your FB (sorry, part of this journalism job) and noticed you have an awesome sense of style. Tell us about it.
AT: Thank you. I have never been into fashion but I have a strong sense of what I like when it comes to clothes. When I was younger my sister was really into fashion design and would tell me what colors work well together. I guess that helped out too.
SN: What’s next for Red Oak Lane?
AT: We are still a young band but everyone in the band has a lot of drive to get our music out and heard. We are working on new material and hopefully will be releasing an EP in the near future.
Kevin Lucero: Graduating senior
Major: Materials Science & Engineering
Red Oak Lane resident cellist and food critic.
Cool facts: I make a mean PB&J
SN: Why the cello? And how do you make it look so sexy?
KL: By wearing purple all of the time--kidding. I think the cello is a sexy instrument by default and I just happen to be lucky enough to play it. That's definitely not something I thought when I was younger, though. It wasn't as cool to be a cello player when I was in middle/high school as, say, an electric guitarist or a drummer. I guess you could say deep down I wish I was as cool as Tim or Abel ;).
When I was in 6th grade I was in a music appreciation class and the teacher, Mrs. Barnett, brought in a cello and told us we could come up to the front of the room and try it. I had no clue what a cello was at the time and went up to go play it; her only instructions to me was to avoid playing the lowest string (the C string) since it's usually difficult to get it ringing. Well, I'm stubborn and as I sat down and the first thing I did was grab the bow and I scraped it against that C string. Miraculously, instead of the sound of sandpaper-on-chalkboard that most beginning string players make, out came this rich, booming low note. At the time it was unlike anything I had ever played--it's an instrument that ends up literally shaking you to your core. I know it's cliché but I knew at that point I wanted to know more about this instrument. I've been playing it ever since.
SN: You wear a lot of purple. Any reason?
KL: It's the best color. Also, see above.
SN: Bowing looks like a lot of work. What training regimen do you practice? How much bigger is your right arm compared to your left arm?
KL: Insanity with Sean T.--just kidding. Bowing is kind of like tennis or golf in that having proper form and technique in your swing and stroke is more important than brute strength. Of course, a certain amount of strength is required but when I practice I focus more on improving my bow technique rather than simply increasing my strength. I can't weight-train with my arms much since I find it often interferes with my muscle memory so I'm actually a wimp when it comes to strength. I think Rich takes the prize for strongest ROL member. He usually ends up being able to carry around more amps and gear than the rest of us.
SN: Favorite Red Oak Lane song (or cover) and why?
KL: That's a loaded question. But at the moment my favorite Red Oak Lane original would have to be "Living the Dream". I guess you could call it an anthem of sorts for ROL. "Body and Soul" is another one I really like. Regardless, Chris writes tremendous lyrics in all of the songs we've written. He has a poetic way of really speaking directly to you with his words. I'm very thankful to have him as our lead singer/songwriter.
There you have it. A look behind the scenes and inside the minds of music’s next big thing.
Thanks to the talented, fun members of Red Oak Lane for taking time out of their busy schedules for TRIM. We wish you the best of luck in the future. Keep killin’ it…for Rutgers!
Check out more of the band here: