CHICAGO — Inspired by Chicago's iconic Marina City Towers, the six members of the Marina City band hope to become an inspirational story of their own.
"This is about us trying to go for our dreams," said lead singer and band founder Ryan Argast, 22, of the South Loop.
Argast, a Portage Park native and Columbia College Chicago graduate, always was impressed by the twin towers, which were the world's first to be constructed with crane towers and are on their way to becoming official Chicago landmarks.
He came up with the name shortly before his band's founding in 2011. The Marina City band's first show was at House of Blues — on the same property as the towers — on March 31, 2012.
The band this month released its third CD, a five-track compilation called Wanderlust. The CD release party was held at Reggies Chicago on South State Street. Argast said many of the songs are about "being a struggling musician in Chicago."
With the exception of Argast, the five other band members — Aaron Heiy, 23, bass; Brian Johnson, 27, rhythm guitar/vocals; Todor Birindjiev, 24, lead guitar; Matthew Gaudiano, 20, keyboards/vocals; and Eric Somers-Urrea, 26, drums — have full-time jobs. Those include window washer, valet driver, landscaper and music instructor.
The "aggressive pop rock" band plays about 50 shows a year — mostly to sold-out crowds in the hundreds, Argast said — across the United States. From Thursday-Monday, they performed in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Long Island and Boston.
They travel as cheaply as possible, packed into Somers-Urrea's family's gray 2002 Chevy Express conversion van — hauling their equipment in a rented trailer. The six members usually sleep in the van, two in the back seat, which folds out into a bed, and the other four in reclining chairs. Somers-Urrea estimates they have driven about 50,000 miles in the van since the band's creation.
"We made it work," Somers-Urrea said. "This is our home. We're closer than a lot of our family. We know how to handle it when someone gets upset, and that's what makes the band work."
Argast, who eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches daily to save money, said he hopes the band is on the cusp of greatness — noting the van would look great in a famous rock 'n' roll museum.
"Hopefully it's still alive by then," he said, laughing.
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