First, allow me to introduce the lineup of outstanding musicians:
Lead Guitar: Rob Bugos
Vocals/Rhythm Guitar: Mitch McLaughlin
Bass Guitar: Chris Kenney
Drums: Otto Gomora
Piano/Keyboard: Massimo Onesto
Saxophone: Cathy Gende
Trombone: Keegan Bramlet
I was fortunate enough to snag an interview with the bandmates of Love in the Dark. Here’s what they had to say:
When you did you start developing your musical talent?
Rob Bugos: I began to play the music with the saxophone in 5th grade band and continued that through the end of senior year. However, I had always really wanted to be able to play guitar so I began learning the instrument when I was In 8th grade and have been just playing since.
Mitch McLaughlin: My mom and dad surrounded me with music, whether it was Guns n Roses or Joni Mitchell; both were drama and choir kids growing up. I’ve been in musical theatre/plays since I was 5, and joined choir in 5th grade, guitar in 7th, and put it all together freshman year when I started writing songs for a folk project I wanted to create. Everything sprouted from there.
Chris Kenney: I started developing my musical talent when I picked up the guitar at 9. I wanted a guitar for christmas; my parents said I had to learn a song first before they would buy me one. So I had one of my brother’s friends teach me “Smoke on the Water,” and as result, I earned my first guitar!
Otto Gomora: I began playing drums when I was about 8.
Massimo Onesto: I began developing my musical talent when I was 10. It started by playing guitar.
Cathy Gende: I started playing 8 years ago in 4th grade, and started actually excelling my 7th and 8th grade years at competitions.
Keegan Bramlet: I started playing the trombone in fourth grade, yet I never really took it seriously. In fact, I wasn’t even going to continue on through high school.
When did talent become passion?
Rob Bugos: I really found a passion in music once the band starting sounding half way decent and I realized how much I love to write and perform. I also began to understand just how much there is to know within music and as a guitar player; I’d say much of my time up till this point has been a quest for knowledge and chops.
Mitch McLaughlin: It has always been a passion. I remember watching American Idol when I was super young and just getting pissed I couldn’t audition the next year. Hahah. Yet the last four years have been a progression of passion, where everyday I wake up wondering how we- as a band- could outdo ourselves as well as the musical community, pushing us to strive harder. Like competition in the best way, only to motivate and not get lazy within our own scene.
Chris Kenney: I really started developing a passion for music when I started playing with other people. It was over time, yet playing with others and making your own music firsthand showed that music was a way to bring people together: I loved that and I still do. For me, bringing people together turned the hobby into my passion.
Otto Gomora: I didn’t really get way into playing the drums until I joined my first band near the beginning of high school.
Massimo Onesto: That talent transformed to passion around my Freshman year of highschool as I became a more advanced musician: able to play songs of greater complexity.
Cathy Gende: My talent became a passion when I was placed in my school’s top ensemble Sophomore year. That’s when you could say I became more “musically intelligent”.
Keegan Bramlet: On step-up day for the band program, I was introduced to amazing musicians. Music changed for me, and since then I have always strived to become a better musician like those I have seen passionately proceed me.
Do you see yourself pursuing a life-long musical career?
Rob Bugos: I do see myself pursuing music all of my life. I don’t necessarily plan to make being a musician or performer my career, but I am going to college to major in music business and minor in music; so I am hoping to at least work within the industry. Playing, however, will always be a cherished hobby for me.
Mitch McLaughlin: I certainly do. Hell if I know what album or song or concept will do it, but I know I can’t walk away from music. I’ll be going to Nashville in the fall to major in songwriting, and minor in music business. So its for sure a career path.
Chris Kenney: I do see myself pursuing a lifelong career in music. Majoring in percussion performance at NIU starting Fall 2015, I enjoy the idea of opening my own percussion studio in order to give lessons to those wanting to begin their own musical journey of sorts. Playing and performing into old age is also a hope of mine.
Otto Gomora: I feel like I will at least always play my instrument with others
Massimo Onesto: I do not see myself having a career in music; however, music is still an important part of my life and will always stay with me.
Cathy Gende: I’ve always seen myself majoring in music but that might change.
Keegan Bramlet: I do not foresee myself with a career in music, yet the passion will always be there. My dream is to open a restaurant (with live music of course). Whether or not Love in the Dark someday plays there, love for music will always be a part of my life.
What is your favorite aspect of performing?
Rob Bugos:When you look out at the crowd and know they’re loving it. That means your music has gone beyond just you and has really communicated with other people. I enjoy knowing there are those appreciating the noise we make.
Mitch McLaughlin: Easily, my favorite aspect is convincing the crowd to enjoy themselves. People our age seem a bit weary about going to concerts as usually they’ve only seen famous acts who have a giant team to make then sounds perfect, look beautiful, and act correctly. So when our first chord strikes and I’m dancing, I know people think it’s silly, but I’m having so much fun; within minutes I can tell mostly everyone has forgotten about the venue: it suddenly becomes the perfect environment for listening and enjoying.
Chris Kenney: Performing is cool because you really get a chance to give others something great. And also, you get to put to the test all you’ve learned since you started your journey. Whats better than that?
Otto Gomora: At last playing the music for an audience and hearing the interaction that goes on between our band and them.
Massimo Onesto: Entertaining crowds of people alongside some of my best friends.
Cathy Gende: Definitely NOT soloing; the rest of the band will assure you of that. Shaping the lines of music appropriately and blending with the band to make an awesome sound: this is my favorite part. I also enjoy seeing people who get into the music.
Keegan Bramlet: I don’t have one aspect of performing that I like the most because I love every bit of it. If I had to narrow it down though, I would have to say I love soloing. I love playing loud and making the crowd get into the music. However, it’s an amazing feeling when you are jamming along on stage and you get into what musicians call, “the pocket”, when every instrument is like a little puzzle piece and it all just fits in together to make one perfect, complete sound. That beats soloing every time. I love seeing people’s first impression of our band, because at each venue there are at least two people who say “Wait, there are horns in this band?”. One of them is usually Chris.
If you wanted your fans to know one thing important about your role or view of the band, what would it be?
Rob Bugos: I’d say that I would want people to know that I recorded our first album myself and it was the first real set of recordings I had ever done. Anything else I did was for fun and usually didn’t involve more than capturing just a guitar or two: there was definitely a learning curve involved during the process.
Mitch McLaughlin: I want everyone to know that without our guitarist, Rob “Bobby B” Bugos, our songs would not exist: flat out, no arguments, never would have happened. He’s one in a million. And without Otto supplying his basement, we’d never have the “following” we have today. Both are honestly the best parts of this band, and I say this while still acknowledging the incredible talent of each band member. Those two are specifically standout players for me personally. Yet I love this group as a whole: we’re like a 2 -dimensional triangle, in a 3 –dimensional world. Together, we just manage.
Chris Kenney: Everyone has their role and must work together to form something greater than the sum of its parts. I am just the bassist. There are six other human beings that make up Love in the Dark, and each of them bring their unique personalities to the plate which is what makes the music. Its all a collaborative effort. Without rob, our songs wouldn’t be nearly as well put together as they are: he masterminds everything. Without Otto, we wouldn’t pay nearly as much attention to what’s going on around us musically, because he really stresses that.
Without Cathy, wed be missing a great improviser (although she claims she doesn’t like to haha) that also blends perfectly into a song, no questions asked. Keegan gives us sheer power, and really knows how to push a song to make it sooo exciting. Massimo offers a full, complete sound, just by adding the keys. And finally, without Mitch we wouldn’t have any idea the direction to take our music. None. Zip. Nada.
My message is to not get into the feeling one person is ever more important than another because that just ain’t true. While everyone has their own specialized jobs, your band is completely changed with the alteration of just one member. Understand that.
Otto Gomora: I think I just want them to know they’re welcome to dance and groove with me during the shows.
Massimo Onesto: We have a unique sound by a good variety of instruments, making us a memorable band.
Cathy Gende: That I came into this project rather late and pretty much just play what I’m told (unless I’m improvising) which is fine by me.
Keegan Bramlet: I think each person has their role, but we are a band. Our job is to take our role and and make it work with everything else. There is a lot of compromisation, as well as collaboration. Having said that, I want our fans to know that we are more than a band, we are brothers… and a sister. We may not be related through blood, but we are family through our collective love for music: and I think that’s just as strong.