Pursuing a passion
UB student makes strides in the Buffalo music scene
Guitars and cases hang throughout Aidan McManus’ house in the Elmwood Village. Speakers for gigs are stored in his garage. His third floor features a professional recording studio.
After one walk through his home, it’s hard to miss his family’s passion.
McManus, a sophomore English major, doesn’t keep his aspirations to himself. As a musician, songwriter and aspiring tattoo artist, he is constantly drafting his ideas to life, whether it is on a piece of paper or through his guitar and voice.
King Of The Moon, his solo band, has been gaining recognition in the Buffalo area by playing ambient-alternative-inspired music in larger venues like Sportsmen Tavern, The Hard Rock Café in Niagara Falls and the Waiting Room.
He has collaborated with Richie English, a composer who has worked with billboard charting artists like the Goo Goo Dolls.
But for McManus, music is more than just playing instruments and recording songs. It’s a way to connect his inspired mind to the physical world.
“Lyrics can help people understand things that aren’t easily understood, interpreting thoughts and feelings in a way that might not have come easily,” McManus said. “It was the process of watching my favorite artists pour their heart and soul into their craft.”
This has inspired McManus to continue pursing his goals, and he said, “to be quite honest, that desire hasn’t stopped growing.”
Music runs in his blood. His father played under the name Geno McManus for a variety of bands like The Lfs, Stoneflower and Million Dollar Trio. Geno was recently inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.
“There’s plenty of pictures of me as a baby crawling around among guitars with him,” McManus said. “I was just always around it.”
At age 14, he began writing his own music. The lyrics, beats and instrumentals are all a product of ideas he’s been perfecting since he was a child. While he continues to develop his style and techniques, he often finds himself continuing to perfect some of his older work today.
“As a musician, I have a vision for how I want the song to sound,” McManus said. “I hear it in my head. I think my biggest problem is that I can’t stop until it sounds perfect.”
Geno said he couldn’t be more proud of his son’s success.
“He’s a natural musician and songwriter,” Geno said. “He just continues to get better on his own pace and terms.”
Last summer, the father-son duo opened for a Canadian band, Lowest of the Low. The two played at an after-party in the Waiting Room after Lowest of the Low had finished their concert at the Harbor.
“As a parent, you are always proud of the things your kids do,” Geno said. “But as a musician parent, to be able to share a stage and share the live experience was nothing short of a dream come true.”
McManus said playing with his father felt like coming “full circle” with his childhood experiences.
“Playing on stage with my father was surreal,” McManus said. “I had seen him play as a kid so many times, in person and in photographs. I had always been a part of the audience. To be up on stage with the man who bought my first guitar, it was enlightening.”
He describes moments like these as the reasons he truly loves music. But one particular moment trumped them all, when he played his first larger venue backed by his own band.
The first time McManus played with his band was at the Sportsmen Tavern when he opened for his father’s band. He said when he got on stage and saw all the people in the audience, he was “amazed and inspired.”
“When I played the first song, everyone was quiet and paying attention to the music I created,” McManus said. “It was an incredible feeling.”
He said before the show, he stood in front of the crowd of more than 300 people and took a selfie, capturing the moment he’d never forget.
“I’ve been performing for 24 years and have performed with and seen some pretty legendary musicians,” Geno said. “But to be able to look at the stage and see my kid and the audience’s reaction trumps all of it.”
Mitch Krumm, a sophomore graphic design major and a friend of McManus, attended the show at the Sportsmen Tavern to support his friend. He had heard small portions of his music before, but was in awe of the concert’s turnout.
“I couldn’t believe at how many people were there to see his band,” Krumm said. “As an artist myself, I couldn’t imagine that feeling of appreciation. And he deserves it.”
McManus said his biggest influences in his life have been his family, who has supported him and his father through all their musical endeavors. He honors his mother’s dedication with a tattoo of a coffee cup sporting her name with a heart and arrow design on his inner arm.
“All music aside, I have a large, and incredibly supportive family, and that sort of energy just helps beyond what words can describe,” McManus said.
When McManus goes on stage, looks out into the crowd and sees his family’s familiar faces, all his nerves dissipate.
McManus said the process of creating his visions through music feels “somewhere between pride and ecstasy.”
With professional promotional photos, a small tour, an extended production and a full album entitled “This Too Shall Pass” in the works, he aspires to a professional recording artist.
“I get this idea in my head on how I want everything to be, and once that happens, the rest of the process is just putting that vision into music,” McManus said.