As new and returning students flock to Athens for the start of the fall semester, the talents and abilities of these students come together as well. Artists, writers, athletes and musicians, all in one central location where they can share their strengths. Because of this, fall sees an increased number of bands populating the stages across Athens.
With only four shows under its belt, Roman Candle has already gained a large and devoted fanbase.
Drummer Joe Krafft, a senior studying music production, feels motivated when performing in the presence of his friends.
“My friend group has come to almost every show,” said Krafft. “So I really shout out the friends of this band.”
At its first headlining show on Sept. 15 at The Union, fans and friends alike began lining up outside the venue well before the doors opened.
“We have a lot of supportive friends, and a lot of people who bring their friends and their friends, and they really like us,” said singer Samantha Kruse, a senior studying journalism.
The chemistry between bandmates is palpable, making it hard to believe that they have only been performing on stage together since late August. Kruse and her bandmates bring the energy seen in the musicians and bands that inspire them. Even the band’s on-stage wardrobe reflected their influences.
“We all love our 70s music,” she said. “They love their little psychedelic, blues, Led Zeppelin.”
Krafft believes this inspiration makes them a better band.
“I thought that kind of going in the style of The Doors drummer would be best for the band,” he said. “So that's kind of what I mainly go for. I mix in a little influence from modern stuff. I like Dave Grohl from Nirvana a lot, I like the way he drums so I kind of like to go for a mix of a little bit of grungy rock style in there too.”
After much deliberation, the band decided that the name “Roman Candle” conveyed the vibe they wanted to curate.
“We spent weeks trying to come up with a name, and usually two or three people would love it and the other two would hate it,” said guitarist David Green, a junior studying psychology.
“And eventually, no one found this one offensive so we went with it.”
The musical proficiency and coordination Roman Candle exudes also throw off the notion of being a new band. For most band members, music has been a factor in their lives for years.
“I started playing guitar in middle school, and then in high school, I thought the bass was the coolest instrument to ever exist,” said bassist Emma McGowan, a junior studying environmental biology. “So, I picked that up but my friend immediately was like ‘You need to learn bass right now, we're starting a band.’ I impulsively learned and bought a bass. I think that was my freshman year of high school. I have loved it ever since.”
Some even have a much shorter time with instruments and music, although it doesn’t show on stage.
“I started playing guitar in my senior year of high school after hearing Black Sabbath's first album,” said guitarist Joey Garascia, a senior studying business. “It's pretty much all you need.”
Kruse feels that Roman Candle has an important role to play in the Athens live music scene.
“Yeah, honestly, there's not a lot of lead women in Athens, and I really do believe that the women should be supporting the women,” said Kruse. “So women supporting women. More of that, because there's not a lot of us.”
Her stage presence and domineering voice combine to make an unforgettable experience for those in the crowd. Audience members would never know that Kruse does not usually play in settings like The Union.
“I feel really out of body when I'm performing,” she said. “So far at The Union, I've never performed on a stage like this before. Usually, it's just me and David playing acoustic at Donkey, and the vibes are really chill, and you just sit there and play your music.”
In comparison, Kruse likes to let the crowd fuel her performance at The Union.
“But here, I'm flailing around, I'm dancing,” she said. “It's just what it's just the energy here. You want to dance with the crowd. So I just kind of feed off of them and I feed off my friends in the front row and have a good time.”
The band’s explosive name suits them perfectly, bringing an energy to shows that’s unmatched by even some of the most legendary of bands.
Roman Candle has three shows upcoming in October on the 7, 27 and 28, with more information to come. They can be found on Instagram at @romancandleband.