By Mack Olmsted, Asst. Production Editor
They rock, they roll, they are Saint Russo. Saint Russo is a band made up of five Manhattan College students, started by MC seniors lead guitarist Joseph Bruno and drummer Stamatis Gaglias.
The idea of the band began back in Bruno’s and Gaglias’ sophomore year. They always talked about starting a band, but it wasn’t until their last semester when they realized it was the last chance to form a band and rock out. So they reached out to their friends, senior Dylan Cruz and junior Patrick Harnedy, who wanted to join them. Cruz is the rhythm guitarist, and Hardnedy plays bass guitar. Later on they met senior Joseph DiOrio who had what they were looking for in a vocalist, and together they made a sound that was thrilling.
The band performs a variety of songs from throughout the decades, ranging from 60’s classics to today’s modern hits. Saint Russo takes inspiration from The Beatles, AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Led Zeppelin. They like to take techniques that other artists use and put their own spin on it to make it unique.
Saint Russo have only been performing on stage for a little bit over two months. Since then they had a few gigs and have been having a good time. When asked about where the name Saint Russo came from, DiOrio had an entertaining story.
“We were playing at the old Irish restaurant, it was the first night that we met, and so I was like, ‘Alright, they’ll hear me and see if it’s a good fit, and towards the end of the night we actually ended up all jamming,” said DiOrio. “I kept thinking that his name was Joe Russo, even though it’s not, it’s Joe Bruno, so I probably said it six to seven times in the one span of that night introducing him and everything. I butchered his name all the time. And then we were messing around with some other names and we decided to kind of find a pun on that because it’s something symbolic that we came up with.”
The musicians have a passion for their art, and all have practiced for years. While they have fun performing together, they also have a strong commitment to the craft. Gaglias described what practice is like for the band.
“Our first rehearsal was in the music room at Thomas Hall, and we only had one hour to practice. That was our first time all playing together, we were all playing, our ears were ringing so loud. It took me like a couple days just to get back to normal base level. But we’re always scrambling trying to find a place to rehearse because if the band room is not open, then we have to figure out whose garage is available to rehearse so it’s always an adventure” Gaglias said.
The band has had a few performances so far. Their most recent gig was at An Beal Bocht on April 7th. There was a great turnout, with people even waiting outside in the pouring rain to see the band live on stage.
“I didn’t even realize how many people were there,” said Bruno. “We were just focusing on playing, and I could only kind of see what was directly in front of me and it didn’t seem that big. I didn’t realize how many people were there and how many people were outside. I was actually told that in our four years of Manhattan College people haven’t ever seen that place that packed, which was definitely pretty cool.”
While nerves can certainly be something to worry about, the band managed to overcome the stress of performing. As Cruz explained, all the time they spent practicing paid off and helped them to put on a successful performance.
“I’ll be anxious or tense or something. But for this gig, I especially think we prepared enough. I felt confident in the material that I really just let loose and I focused on actually putting on a performance and looking animated and energized,” Cruz said.
When asked about what they would say to anyone thinking about starting a band, DiOrio had some advice.
“In the beginning you have to keep the fire hot, so practice, hang out, get plans down and refine your craft,” said DiOrio. “It’s hard dealing with the schedules of multiple people. It’s hard to get it figured out. It’s like a really big thing. Just start playing as much as you can and meet people who play the same style as you.”
Saint Russo plans to have at least one more performance. They are currently in talks with Student Government about a possible future performance out on the quad one more time before most of them graduate. For future updates with Saint Russo keep up with them @saintrusso_ on instagram.