State University College at Oneonta student rock band Somewhere Up There was named the winner of the first-ever SUNY Music Madness contest last week, according to a media release from the college.
The SUNY-wide competition collected votes from among the 64 campuses in the State University of New York system. The top two choices were both SUNY Oneonta bands, but Somewhere Up There defeated alternative pop-rock band Hello, Seattle by a 31-vote margin when voting closed Wednesday afternoon.
“It was a really hard-fought battle,” Somewhere Up There front man Nick Squillante said in a media release. “I can definitely say that Hello, Seattle kept us on our toes, but it feels great to really take this one away.”
More than 10,000 votes were cast in three rounds of voting. Hello, Seattle and Somewhere Up There bested 10 artists from several SUNY schools in Round 1 in November, and then defeated two groups from SUNY New Paltz to advance to the finals against a New Paltz pop duo.
According to the release, the final bands campaigned heavily, including via social media. Hello, Seattle lead singer Kim Berg mentioned the competition during a recent show at the B-Side Ballroom in Oneonta, and band members handed out “candygrams” on campus to woo student voters.
Somewhere Up There formed in fall 2011 by longtime friends Squillante and Rob Farella (drums), with Golding Hall roommates Nick Juliano (keyboard/synth) and Joe Frappaolo (guitar). A few months after the band formed, Farella and Frappaolo hosted an open mic night on campus, where they met bass player Kyle Sisco. The band has released its first EP, “Northern Lights,” and is at work on a full-length album, which will include the band’s Music Madness single “The End.” All five band members are juniors. Squillante, Farella and Frappaolo are music industry majors; Sisco is an economics major and Juliano is a physics major.
Hello, Seattle is a five-piece alternative pop rock band made up of SUNY Oneonta seniors Berg, Amy Maxwell (guitar/vocals), Andrew Platt (drums) and Jason Psanis (piano) and junior Frank Cicciarello (bass). All five are music industry majors. The group formed after Berg and Maxwell met in an audio production class in fall 2011. Their debut EP, titled “Writing in Reverse,” was released in January 2012. Since then, they performed at OH-Fest8 last spring, released their first full-length album, “Improper Greeting,” and opened for Timeflies and Mayday Parade at SUNY Oneonta’s fall concert in September.
Both bands credited music industry faculty members Joe Pignato and Brett Masteller for supporting them.
“I want to give a shout-out to all the teachers in the music industry program,” said Squillante, who submitted his band’s video to SUNY an hour before the contest deadline after Pignato encouraged him to enter. “They’re the people who motivated us every step of the way. They’ve always told us to keep pushing for our dreams, to keep trying.”