Rock band

VIDEO FIRST: Scranton alt-rock band University Drive line up for “Execution”

Rich Howells

Anyone who’s seen University Drive knows what a tight bunch they are, and behind the scenes the bunch got even tighter.

Since premiering their first-ever music video on the NEPA stage last October, the Scranton-based alternative rockers have continuously rehearsed while playing just a few select shows as they plan to announce something big this week.

As part of the preparation, they are releasing their next music video on NEPA Scene today for a song titled “Execution” which shows how Ed Cuozzo (vocals, guitar), Angelo Maruzelli (guitar, vocals), Ryan Grutt ( bass) and Steve Martin (drums) became, even more than they were on “Clear”, their well-received 2019 concept album which was named Album of the Year at the 2019 Steamtown Music Awards. The addition of Mark Naples (guitar) since then has only boosted their already massive sound.

“This song is written from the perspective of watching a relationship fall apart, or watching it and feeling it become strained. It’s kind of in line with a lot of the lyrics from ‘Clear’… kind of watching the aftermath of it all and how complicated it can get. I think of it as if ‘Clear’ was in a house the moment it caught fire – panic, confusion, terror. ‘Execution’ and the new album feel more like each other. stand across the street a few days after the house caught fire…just observe the damage/ruin it left behind and try to figure out what happens next,” Cuozzo explained.

“What I think is really cool about writing this song is when I started writing it, I immediately recognized that it would sound a lot more awesome if Angelo sang on it – it was just in a place ideal of his vocal range, so I sent it to him and told him I thought he should do it, and then we both co-wrote the track over emails. He changed some lyrics and some vocal melodies, and he added a completely different bridge section and outtro. It was a really exciting moment to know that we could co-write songs.

The new music video was once again filmed by Eric Curtis, this time at Encore Studios in Eynon/Archbald.

“We’ve been rehearsing there for a while and we love the place so one day we were just outside talking about getting a big clean room for the next video and Bob the only guy who works at Encore, is just like, ‘You mean like this?’ then he revealed that right next to the rehearsal rooms, there was a separate space that they were working on – and it was a huge white room. It was fate,” he said with a laugh.

“I kept saying I wanted it to be the band playing in a big white room but with weird effects draped all over it. I kept the ‘Soon’ video reference from My Bloody Valentine, something that had that indie/shoegaze spirit but with a 2022 quality. Eric ended up going even further and way cooler than anything I could have imagined, however. He captured the perfect feel for the song.

“It was really fun shooting it too! Angelo sings the lead in the song and he gives this really intense performance, so it was really fun to play a support position in the video instead of being my stupid face again.

As for the rest of the album, after two years of working and recording with Paul Smith at Eight Days a Week studios in Northumberland, the finish line is just ahead.

“We have about four more songs to mix…so it’s done. I’m just trying to make it as good as possible before releasing it to the world,” Cuozzo pointed out. “It all comes together.”

While he can’t say exactly what “everything” is just yet, local fans got a little taste of what’s to come from their intense live performances, including the opener for Wilkes-Barre’s hard rock band. Lifer at places like the River Street Jazz Cafe in the Plains. Several members of Lifer also play in Cold, a national act with which University Drive toured the country in 2019.

“The shows at the Jazz Café were amazing! We love the Lifer guys so much. I think after making our first connection on the road with Nick [Coyle] and the rest of Cold, it kind of blossomed from there. They asked us to play a gig with them at Stage West right after the Broken Human Tour and we said OK – and then we kept on doing it! It was awesome – I really love playing with these guys. I think at the end of the day, we both have a mutual respect for what each other’s projects bring to the table. I think that’s why it works – we just get along and dig each other’s tunes.

With only three members available at the time, UD also played one of the last shows at Stage West before the Scranton venue closed in late 2021.

“I mean, it was an honor to play the last one for sure, but it’s fucking heartbreaking, man. I really hope this spring and summer there’s more shows that are safe and with more attendance. It’s a bummer because of the great talent there is in the area. We definitely need more venues, though. It was actually really fun to play as a trio, but I don’t can’t help but miss those extra guitars and vocals.

Luckily, the whole band got to participate in a recently released short documentary that chronicles the making of “Forever,” another song from their upcoming third album. It was the first time they had all seen each other in person in six months due to the pandemic, but their bond was still going strong.

“We just wanted to give people who feel a connection to our group a little more information about our process, or what this specific process was like, and showing them a bit more of the group dynamic and chemistry. Eric Curtis, who did all the videos for us (incredibly talented guy), was the one filming, and honestly, 99.9% of the time we had no idea he was even in the filming room when he was. It would just blend into furniture or recording equipment,” Cuozzo laughed.

“We have a title [for the album]. We’re just waiting for the right moment to announce it. That being said, if you look at the mini doc, the title is said there multiple times.

As anticipation grows for the next chapter of University Drive, the 35-year-old singer has remained humble while trying to hide his excitement for what may be the band’s biggest year yet.

“As always, I just want to thank everyone and anyone for continuing to follow us on our weird musical journey. It’s so, so appreciated – we don’t take anything for granted, and we can’t wait to release this new record!