“There’s a saying that if you want it done well and right, you have to do it yourself,” said Ben Andre, lead singer and songwriter of the emerging indie band. “That’s the definition of Tipling Rock.”
Tipling Rock started when members Dillon Salkovitz, Ben Andre, and Tommy Schubert created a band in high school. When Dillon and Ben met Matt Lewin at Northeastern, the group got together and officially started Tipling Rock. According to Dillon, the core of Tipling Rock is its mission to “create music that is both accessible but also well-informed.” They incorporate complex harmonies and unique production styling to make art that “can be enjoyed by both music fans and musicians alike.” The band’s mission statement is clearly pulling through considering its songs have been recently topping many upcoming Spotify playlists. They give off that big name rock band vibe with the level of synergy and all around intensity they bring to concerts. To put it simply, they make it look easy.
However, things are not so simple as they are all still students at universities. Dillon, Ben, and Matt are fifth year students here Northeastern University, and Tommy goes to University of Rhode Island. They spend most nights playing past midnight out of passion for their band, but they love what they do and good music doesn’t just write itself. “Half of us are currently on co-op, which makes things a little more difficult from a time management perspective,” Dillon explained. While they work 9-5 shifts during weekdays, they still find time to squeeze in rehearsing, mixing, producing, creating merchandise, and playing gigs. “As business students, we apply a lot of what we learn in the classroom to our band, which is essentially our ‘start-up.’”
Through the experiential learning taught at Northeastern, the Tipling Rock team has been able to apply their skills to marketing, supply chain management, and accounting. They’ve “all been instrumental (that’s a pun).” When asked about what they would have to say to any aspiring musicians on campus, they claimed that business is an incredibly important skill to have. “Unfortunately, in today’s world it’s not simply enough to be well-practiced on your instrument. If you want to be a successful musician, you need to learn how to position yourself in the industry and prepare yourself for everything that goes into the behind-the-scenes, as well as on stage.”
While they evidently pour a monumental amount of effort into Tipling Rock’s lively melodies and business framework, the band members have an onstage presence that screams fun.
On a typical Tuesday night, exhaustion rules the college student, but last Tuesday at Northeastern’s After Hours, a dynamic combo of the indie band Tipling Rock and headliner Flor rocked the stages and invigorated the crowd with energetic music.
“Northeastern has a beautiful campus and it was a pleasure to play here!” exclaimed Zach Grace, the lead singer of Flor. “It was intimate, fun, and charged with emotional energy.”
The night at After Hours was wonderful, and while it was headlined by Flor, the emerging indie band Tipling Rock gave an amazing performance. At the concert, they encouraged the crowd to jump to the beat and follow the music. By the end of their last song, everyone applauded so loud that the whole building could probably hear. Every song built upon the last, and more people huddled closer to the After Hours stage and cheered in the crowd.
Ben Andre shared some insight as to how the group manages to write songs. “I come up with something, and I write music by recording it,” explained Andre. “Basically, I’ll have an idea. I’ll be on the guitar, and I’ll lay something nice down on some recording software. Then, I’ll add more layers to that to build out kind of a song, and I’ll hear some words in my head.” It’s fascinating to hear that Ben follows his own lead and builds off of a simple idea. Fleshing out basic musical inspiration often requires a leap of faith and a willingness to delve into the unknown. At least a phrase will come to Ben’s mind as he records what would become the basis of a future song, but he’ll take it and roll with it. After Ben gets the melodies down, he takes it to his fellow band members, who turn it into a full fledged song.
When asked about production, Andre and Salkovitz explained that the recording and production aspects are incredibly important. “People might say I know this sounds good, but it’s not produced very well,” Andre said. The band responds to the notion that listeners subconsciously recognize production value by working tirelessly with post production software. “When it comes to the production, sometimes we’ll sit on a song for a really long time just working on getting better.” The band’s most famous hit, Low Tide Love actually took the band a year to produce.
“We really loved the song,” said Andre, “but it was missing a chorus. We were so close to giving up after months, but then we finally combined things and put it all together.” Tipling Rock doesn’t back down in post-production as they work with Cubase, which is often considered one of the most professional and complicated music editing softwares out there. “Music production and post-production audio engineering has been probably the primary focus for years,” said Andre.
They’re nerds and they own it! “We’re always looking at new machines. I just bought some vintage monitors from the 70s,” Andre said. “We’re literally gear collectors.” The band has vintage microphones and all sorts of old, nostalgic equipment. Seeing the excitement on Ben’s face as he spoke about old music equipment goes to show the greatness of creating music. Everyone in the band has wholehearted passion for what they do. They dive head first into music and relish every aspect of the creative process.
However, the creative endeavor often involves roadblocks. Behind the lively atmosphere that Tipling Rock creates for their crowds, they work tirelessly to make the best experience. For many of the songs, they’ve had to re-record instruments for hours until they have the perfect take. Moreover, some of the songs took years to actually get the lyrics done. “For Staring, it took two years just to get the chorus,” explained Andre. “But we waited because we loved that song so much. We were on the verge of giving up since Staring was a solid song, but we wanted it to be something more that would make people go ‘woah’.” The impressive level of commitment the band puts into each song is made even more inspiring when considering that they are all undergraduate students. “This is our lives,” said Salkovitz. “We would be putting this much work into this band even if we didn’t have the attention. This is something that’s a part of who we are.”
The members of Tipling Rock are set to graduate this spring. After graduation, they intend to put more time into the band and create more unique singles for their quickly-growing audience. They are preparing to release a new EP titled “On the Roof” which comprises five live acoustic versions of their singles, which they recorded on their rooftop.
“Every song will be accompanied by a video of the actual performance that made it onto the record, shot by our very talented friend Matt Lewis,” Salkovitz said. “It’s coming out in a few weeks so keep your eyes peeled.” Given the band’s meticulous nature when it comes to production, “On the Roof” is a different approach to their music, and fans of the band will love what they put together.
The future of Tipling Rock looks bright and ready to travel in bold new directions. When asked about whether they use any synthesized electronic sounds, Salkovitz teased, “Let’s just say that in 2018, you might see some more synths from us.” However, as Ben clarified, “We want to stay more organic and true to our sound.” Music allows for so many possibilities, and one of the benefits of being an indie band is that there’s no set-in-stone genre that the band is confined to. Tipling Rock has taken experimental risks in the past with their music, and some added flavor to the mix can only help.
“This is our lives,” Salkovitz said. “We would be putting this much work into this band even if we didn’t have the attention. This is something that’s a part of who we are.”
Thanks so much for reading, and a special thanks to the awesome members of Tipling Rock for being able to sit down and talk about music!