New Band Pushes Windward

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Seated in a corner booth at the Massapequa Diner at around 7 p.m., a newly-formed emo-punk quartet exchanges possible band philosophies while finishing up their breakfast-for-dinner and a slice of pie.

“Here’s a party song, now cry,” offers drummer PJ LaRocco, and the band, Sailing, agrees.

Rounded out by Massapequan and singer-guitarist Ryan Yero,  as well as Hofstra students bassist-vocalist James Fitzgerald and guitarist Jonathan Arocho, Sailing is two shows and one EP into its career. Their first show, a DIY concert in the dank basement of an off-campus Hofstra house dubbed Dong Island, featured other local bands, a $5 cover, $1 beer and the pungent aroma of punk-rock youth in cramped quarters.

In other words, it was everything the band needed to experience during its first show. The crowd was there to hear all of the music; not just their own band or a friend’s band, but every musician who lugged gear down the narrow staircase, which proved short on safety, but full of character.

“Respect is a big thing in this scene,” said Yero, who admits to some floor-gazing jitters during that first show. “While another band is playing don’t sit outside, come in and watch the show. We’re all in this scene.”

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Sailing’s EP is available for streaming online.

A cohesive unit for only a couple of months, the four young musicians came together as Sailing after an initial band started by LaRocco, who had invited Yero into the fold, dissolved. Fitzgerald and Arocho were recruited and after a few no-pressure jam sessions, the new band had multiple versions of three or four songs.

“We were just playing to get out the frustration of our busy weeks,” said Yero, who, like LaRocco, has a ‘real’ job, while Fitzgerald and Arocho and currently in school to get ‘real’ jobs. “We play for fun, not because we have this ultimate goal of becoming a huge rock stars.”

The name Sailing stems from Yero’s Floridian past, where every day could be spent on a boat with friends. He was suffering through this recent brutal New York winter and all he could think about was relieving the bone chill on a boat in warm waters. LaRocco was on board with the name, because for him it evoked memories of days spent on his grandfather’s boat, which was washed away in Superstorm Sandy.

“When I think of sailing, I think of a tight-knit group of people doing things they enjoy,” said LaRocco. “It’s something you do for fun, for leisure, not because you have to. And that’s what this band is about.”

The band’s EP, titled “Rien Ne Sert De Courier” (translated from a French proverb meaning “there’s no point in running; you have to leave on time), is comprised of three songs, “Max Luck,” “Massachusetts Is Cold,” and “Taylor, Be Swift.” Streaming at www.sailinglongisland.bandcamp.com, the songs are melodic with an assaulting edge. The words, penned by Yero, are delivered with dark urgency and sung as though they need to be heard at any cost.

The sound evokes memories of music from across multiple genres, but the musicians’ approach and heart keeps it from sounding derivative and saves it from drowning in its influences.

“This band and the music we play inspires me to be myself,” said Arocho. “We feed off each other’s influences and create something unique.”

Those influences are as eclectic as the musicians themselves and range from punk and hardcore to metal, rock and folk. The mix creates a sound that the band believes listeners can relate to — but they admit it’s important for the music to satisfy their own needs ahead of any listener needs.

“The music is really for us,” said Fitzgerald. “If people can listen to it and relate to it in some way, that is great. But really we want to be satisfied with it first.”

Currently, performing in cramped basements satisfies Sailing. This is a band that doesn’t boast a message and will never hoist a cheap rallying cry for any disaffected generation. It’s all about the music; one leisurely cruise at a time.

“We’re not trying to impress anyone,” said Yero. “Here’s some work we did, hope you enjoy it.”

Visit. www.facebook.com/lisailing. Listen to their EP at www.sailinglongisland.bandcamp.com.

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Steve Mosco, former editor-in-chief at Anton Media Group, is a columnist for Long Island Weekly's food and sports sections. He fancies himself a tastemaker, food influencer and king of all eaters.

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