The musical mountain climber

UB student William LaShomb approaches music and life as an adventure

The Spectrum

William LaShomb isn't the average front man of a local band.

The sophomore biomedical sciences major with a passion for adventure is currently struggling with the decision to pursue a career as a doctor or continue striving to become the next big musician.

He compares the decision with "trying to rein in two different horses that are pulling in opposite directions."

But the dilemma is not something LaShomb can't handle. He has conquered fears his whole life.

Climbing mountains and being adventurous doesn't just occur in nature for LaShomb. He applies the philosophy of being adventurous in his own life. Every day, he wakes up at 4 a.m. to conquer another piece of his life while facing the two paths.

"I'd love to be a doctor but, honestly, every day in the music scene is an adventure and I love adventures," LaShomb said.

A thrilling life

LaShomb has been climbing mountains with his family for as long as he can remember - from Mount Marcy and Algonquin, two of the highest peaks in the Adirondack Mountains, to California's Half Dome in the Sierra Nevadas and Germany's Zugspitze, the country's highest point.

"I started climbing smaller peaks in the Adirondacks and kept challenging myself to climb the bigger mountains with every conquest," LaShomb said. "It's funny because I'm terrified of heights, and climbing Zugspitze was the most challenging climb for me. I think I needed to do it."

It took the LaShombs more than eight hours to climb Zugspitze, fearing the fall, elevation and cold air the higher they ascended.

LaShomb said he felt like he was falling as he carefully stepped from one spike to another, grasping the cables tightly and looking up and around, but not down toward the ground.

LaShomb's adventures don't stop at climbing mountains.

He is a member of UB's Honors College and is in a local band. LaShomb's long days include heavy coursework and band practice. There is no sleeping in on weekends for him; time to relax with friends is rare.

LaShomb has experienced his fair share of obstacles. He grew up most of his life without cable TV, a cell phone or microwave. But one of the most difficult challenges in his life was handling the loss of his younger sister.

LaShomb's mother experienced complications during labor, and his sister passed away after birth. He was too young to be sad or fully understand what happened, but he remembers being confused. Wasn't he supposed to be a big brother?

"A few weeks after she passed away, I found a perfectly symmetrical heart-shaped birthmark on my back," LaShomb said. "It's like she's always there for me and I want to take all the opportunities I can in life, opportunities she will never experience."

Shortly after her death, LaShomb discovered a passion for music that helped ease his pain.

The adventures of Sweet Apollo

LaShomb has been musically inclined since sixth grade, when he met Jong Lee in homeroom. The two guitarists hit it off. They began playing at talent shows and performing covers of their favorite songs in their basements.

This was the beginning stage of Sweet Apollo.

The band officially formed in 2011 with LaShomb and Lee. They found a vocalist, bassist and drummer to complete the lineup. Everything was aligning perfectly until they began to record original songs for their EP Live and their debut album In Good Company. The lineup kept changing and multiple cancellations for their CD release frustrated the band.

Club Infinity's power went out as Sweet Apollo was heading to the former Buffalo concert venue to set up for its first release. The second cancellation was due to LaShomb falling ill and not being able to fully use his vocal chords.

"By the time we released In Good Company, I felt like the lyrics I wrote were no longer reflective of me," LaShomb said. "I wasn't proud of it and that's why we needed to take a break to revamp our sound."

After opening for Twenty-One Pilots, a musical duo from Columbus, Ohio, LaShomb knew Sweet Apollo's sound had to change. The crowd moved and fed off the energy Twenty-One Pilots exuded on stage. With Sweet Apollo's soft indie sound, the crowd wasn't moving and energy was scarce in both the crowd and within the band.

In February, band members decided they wanted to take time off from writing and performing. LaShomb had a new vision for Sweet Apollo. And just a few weeks ago, they began performing again.

On Nov. 23, Sweet Apollo played a show at Delaware Avenue venue Waiting Room.

Currently, the group is recording new material with Nick Borgosz at World Of Noise Studios in Cheektowaga for the second time and they plan to finish an album within the year - an album they can be proud of.

LaShomb knows the new sound won't be simple to achieve. That's why he picked Borgosz to help produce the new album.

"Nick pushes us to be the best musicians we can be," LaShomb said. "We still have improvements we need to make, but we know Nick will be honest with us along the way."

Along with Borgosz's straightforward critiques, LaShomb pens honest lyrics for Sweet Apollo.

Guitarist Lee marvels at how truthful and captivating LaShomb's lyrics are. With LaShomb being the only non-music major in the band, he brings a different creative mind to the group. Bassist Joe Bennett attends Fredonia and drummer Dominic Scaduto goes to Buffalo State College.

Sweet Apollo was featured in the first issue of 716 Music Magazine in an article written by Editor Alyssa Phillips, who also created the album artwork for In Good Company.

"Will became a great friend rather quickly," Phillips said. "When I met him for the first time, he treated me as a friend and not just a service."

LaShomb greeted Phillips and her brother with warm hugs and friendly conversation the first time they met and she swears it's as if they were friends since middle school.

Kind hearted, genuine gestures are LaShomb's signature.

Music for him is timeless and will never get old.