UB students combine blues, rock and metal influences for experimental band


Every week, The Seven Crowns jams out in their guitarist’s Lisbon Avenue dark-lit attic where nails protrude from the walls.

The Seven Crowns is an experimental rock group made up of four UB students that draws influences from Middle Eastern music to blues-rock.

The band consists of guitarist Jack Walker, bassist Eric Vlesmas and guitarist Dan Gagliardi. Walker and Gagliardi share the vocalist position in the band. Ryan Whitmarsh also occasionally serves as the guitarist and keyboardist for the band.

The Seven Crowns formed in late August. Walker, a junior economics and environmental studies major, said they met each other through mutual friends and decided to start playing with one another.

Walker said the band got inspired to name The Seven Crowns while drinking Seagram’s 7 Crown whiskey.

The band practices at least two times a week for two hours in Walker’s attic, which they dubbed “The Danger Attic.”

Each of the band members said they have had profound experiences with music that inspired them to play in a band.

“My dad was a musician, and I always listened to a bunch of different kinds of music,” said Vlesmas, a junior psychology major. “It’s just nice to be around people who also enjoy music, so even just hanging out with jack and just jamming is always fun.”

Vlesmas said that as a child, he always moved around and music was always something he could relate and connect to people with.

He said the experimental metal band Primus was a big inspiration for him as a musician. He also said progressive rock band Thank You Scientist and instrumental trio Consider the Source were among his inspirations.

“My aunt kind of brought me into the field of music, she studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston,” Walker said. “In a later stage when I was older like 16 or 17, that’s kind of when I formulated that and started playing.”

Walker said his guitar teacher in high school also influenced the way he played and the music he listened to.

Walker described himself as being “heavily blues-influenced,” while Vlesmas and Gagliardi’s influences tend to be more on the heavy metal scope. He said blues acts like The Black Keys, Muddy Waters, Freddie King and B.B. King are among his major influences.

Walker said classic rock bands like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Jimmy Hendrix are also among his big inspirations.

Gagliardi, a junior mathematics major, grew up in a musical family, where both his father and grandmother were musicians. They piqued his interest in music.

Gagliardi said rock band Led Zeppelin, progressive rock band Rush and heavy metal band Meshuggah are his biggest musical influences.

“I feel like it’s very interesting listening to our music because Eric and Dan have kind of metal influences and I have that blues side of things, so it’s kind of an interesting mix that you don’t really hear,” Walker said.

The band’s song “Ex-Pat” is one of the favorites the three have ever written.

Walker described the song as having a “Latin-swing vibe.” He said after spending a few summers working for a paving company, in which all the workers were of Mexican descent and he was inspired to write the song, which chronicles Latin American immigrants being exploited for labor.

The band said their songwriting process tends to be democratic, where each of the members contribute something. Walker usually comes up with different chord progressions and the band collectively makes a song out of it.

The band has played three shows so far. Their first two performance as a band took place at an event sponsored by UB’s Outdoor Adventure Club. Their second show took place at a rock-climbing center and the outdoor setting through the band members off.

Walker said although the second show was far from their favorite, but that it served as “good practice.”

Each of the band members agreed that the third show, which took place at Vlesmas’ home, has been their best so far.

“There wasn’t too many people but the reaction from the crowd was really good,” Vlesmas said.

Walker said balancing being in a band and schoolwork is a “great compromise.”

“Its always the goal to get your work done as quickly as possible and then find time to jam. School almost always comes first but jamming is always the preferred option,” Walker said.

While some of the band members look to pursue music as a permanent career, others wish to have it as a hobby.

Vlesmas said although pursuing a music career is a primary goal and his “backup plan” is doing research in neuroscience. Gagliardi said he does not look to pursue music as a career but looks to continue to play music on the side. Walker said he sees music as being a strong hobby throughout his life.

“ I see [music] in a very philosophical kind of sense,” Walker said. “There’s a greater meaning to it than what you’re hearing, I feel like there’s some kind of worldly connection going on when you listen to music.”

Ashley Inkumsah is a news editor and can be reached at ashley.inkumsah@ubspectrum.com