Western Education’s new album makes the grade
By Victoria Wasylak
The story of Western Education sounds like the plot of a campy ’80s movie (cue John Hughes): One soul-searching musician makes a flyer and posts it around campus with the hope of meeting kindred band mates. A zany group of rebels and misfits comes together and winds up playing at a Boston radio station’s Rock ’n’ Rumble. The crowd goes wild and the band goes on to cut an album and later gets a call from Queens of the Stone Age to go on tour…
Well, that last part hasn’t exactly happened yet. But good things are definitely in store for the guys in Western Education, who just graduated to a new level in their musical career.
It didn’t take long after lead singer Greg Alexandropoulos put up his handmade flyers around UMass Lowell for him to meet bassist Will Hunt and guitarist Georgio Broufas, and form their self-described “nerd band.” The guys made punk rock demos at home and started playing shows in Cambridge. After trying out different drummers, the band finally locked and loaded its groove when Mark Ragusa hopped aboard the crazy train a year later.
Following a smattering of EPs and small projects undertaken since 2011, Western Education will release their first full-length album, Let Your Secrets Out, July 8.
“It’s the first time we wanted to commit to a length of music,” says Ragusa, noting the ease of releasing an EP over a full album. Although this time around, there was much more than convenience on the band’s mind.
Alexandropoulos wondered how the new material could actually be split up and put into an EP, because the band had accumulated so much good material.
The new album boasts Brian May-inspired guitar riffs, face-melting hooks, and absolutely no, “dumb love songs or melodramatic crap,” Alexandropoulos says. .
“It’s more like a picture of basically everything that we do — which ranges from heavier, faster, songs influenced by punk, to dance songs and ballads,” Hunt says. “It’s definitely an evolution of everything we’ve done so far…it’s turned up to 11, almost” he jokes, poking fun with an old Spinal Tap reference.
If you ask the band what genre they are, they’ll tell you that it’s much more entertaining to discuss what labels others have created for them, which include indie-tronica, dance rock, synth punk and drama new wave.
But to cut the technical jargon, Western Education makes really catchy rock tunes.
“I don’t think there are any of our songs that you aren’t going to move to,” brags Ragusa, who personally feels that “dance rock” is the most accurate description of the band’s work.
That’s not to say the album is just a bunch of mindless dance tunes. The guys cover serious subjects like poverty, religion and low self-esteem in some of the song writing.
The band members all weigh in on writing music and the process is focused and organized. Before they even start to work their magic, “the main musical themes of the song need to be in place,” Alexandropoulos says. “We’ll typically have at least the main chorus, if not most of the song done before we bring it in.”
“We’re not the type of group that one guy is just taking force,” Hunt adds. “Georgio and Greg do the heavy lifting, and then my songs tend to be things that I make on my own, and one of these two cannibalizes it into something else.”
The band attributes this method of making music to the variety of the album’s sound.
“It’s very important that when we deliver the record to you, every song is different,” says Alexandropoulos. “I will call bullshit if you accuse two songs of sounding the same.”
The album’s first single, the fast-paced Fall Out Boy-esque tune “Rivals,” is a song from the vaults, something that the band had started years ago, but never truly finished until this year.
“If you don’t have killer songs, you’re done,” Alexandropoulos adds, explaining that bands trying to break out, have to realize that songs need to be marketable to a certain audience. After all, without any fan appeal, bands might as well be jamming by themselves in their basement.
The lead singer, who has taken classes on business in the music industry, also recommends that bands have a publicist and a booking agent, rather than signing to a label.
“You can make a record in your bedroom,” Alexandropoulos adds, “we made [ours] in a remodeled garage. Why do I need an advance against royalties to make a huge record? We can make a huge record in our bedroom, and we more or less did that.”
Let Your Secrets Out includes seven new songs, and three remakes from past EPs (“Young Love,” “Loyal Satellite” and “All I Am”) and debuts July 8. The album can be purchased on bandcamp, iTunes, and at Newbury Comics.