BRIDGEPORT — The name Lights Over Bridgeport was thought up during a ballgame at The Cell. But the concept for the four-piece punk act’s music was formed long before that, in concert halls and raucous festivals.
“We all grew up on punk rock and went to punk rock shows, everything from The Descendents to Social Distortion to Face to Face. But we really listen to a lot of different kinds of music…I think sometimes the energy from metal comes across in our music,” said John Hamlin, the band’s founding member, vocalist and guitar player.
Now the band is aiming for a chance to play on the biggest stage of their music careers with a spot at this summer’s Warped Tour. To get the gig, they’ll have to win a Battle of the Bands contest that relies heavily on social media buzz.
The band is one of several acts on the Stay Posi Records label, which takes on artists who “promote positivity and well being in our music and everyday lives.”
It’s an ethos that Hamlin, 30, said the band has adopted in recent years. Gone are most of the members from the group’s original 2001 lineup, and with them the former group's "aimless and directionless" attitude about making it big.
The current iteration of the band — which has released an album, an EP and their latest track, “Michigan Song” — is grown up now, a little more focused since coming together in 2006. They expect to release a new EP this summer.
“We’ve really kind of taken ‘stay positive’ as a challenge to ourselves and reach as many people as we can with our music,” Hamlin said.
About that band name: Only one band member, guitarist Miko Ramirez, lives in Bridgeport. Hamlin, drummer Kevin Jamroz and bassist Kurt Miller all reside in Hammond, Ind.
But Hamlin is the son of a late truck driver and hardware store owner who prided himself on blue-collar work and his native Roseland and Calumet Park neighborhoods.
"The South Side gets overlooked," Hamlin said. "My dad had this friendly chip on his shoulder about it and that's how I grew up. So when I was looking for something to name the band, I was attracted to that whole aspect ... about being working class, the underdog and overlooked."