As winter break drew to a close and the prospect of finding a job at school faded, sophomore Drew Bandos decided to create music. Hence the solo project Is and Of The was born.
Two months later, a job found Bandos when Mush Records extended him an offer to sign.
“I sent e-mails to like 20 labels or so, just based on, like, music I listen to. I checked out what bands I like, what labels they were on and if they were accepting demos or not,” Bandos said.
Bandos has not officially signed with Mush. He said he is waiting for his lawyer to look over the contract.
Is and Of The’s first album, “Heads Phased for Dreamless Sleep,” features 11 songs written by Bandos and performed with the help of his friends.
Bandos, also known as “DJ Banda Bear” on WRGW Radio, often records from his dorm room in Ivory Tower.
Tiny red Christmas bulbs hang near the ceiling. Pencil scrawls of song lyrics adorn the bare sections of wall surrounding a fabric tapestry, its swirling greens and blues engulfing pale orange circles. Sitting at the kitchen table, a female mannequin, clad in a cheetah-skin dress and full makeup, fastens her plastic eyes on the front doorway.
The atmosphere of Bandos’ dorm room reflects the tone of his songs, which at times range from rich and elegant to stark and unnerving.
“If I hear a song, I know exactly when I wrote it and how I was feeling at the time. So, it was very personal for a while,” Bandos said of his music. “They’re like journal entries.”
The album is set to be released by Mush Records in June and will be exactly as it is now, “but a little louder,” according to Bandos’ website. The album has been available on the website since January and over 240 free downloads have been made since Bandos uploaded it.
Although he does not expect to make money from the album – the first album is mostly about publicity, he said – Bandos said he felt uncomfortable removing the album as a free download.
“When I reworked these songs, I did that with the knowledge that I’d be distributing this no matter how many people were getting it,” Bandos said.
Bandos attributed much of the album’s success to unrehearsed performances from Alex Ocko, Bryan Antell, Tom Anthony and Joe Hoban – students from Drexel University and University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Sophomore Catherine Finsness designed the cover art for the album.
Some of them met for the first time during the album’s production. Bandos believes this collaboration lent a sense of authenticity to the “solo-ish” project.
Bandos uses a sort of free-flow of ideas when crafting music, as well as when he’s writing short stories for his English and creative writing major.
“I never really sit down to write a story,” Bandos said. “I kind of will just write a phrase or a sentence that I like in my notebook during class, and that kind of will just sit there for months and then a few months later, I will think of something to go along with that, and then it all just kind of layers on top of it.”
Bandos has something more collaborative in mind for the band’s future. He would prefer that all members have a chance to contribute to the writing process.
“I see it as like a precursor of what we’d do in the future,” he said.
This article was updated on Nov. 16, 2011 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported the Bandos’ album was titled, “Head Phased for Dreamless Sleep.” It is correctly titled “Heads Phased for Dreamless Sleep.” We regret this error.