One student-founded band has worked their way up from practicing in the basement of Thurston Hall to scoring two recorded albums and performances around the District.
Two former Thurston roommates, lead singer and guitarist Peter Stevens III and drummer Joey Mamlin, founded The Colonies when they met at Colonial Inauguration two years ago. The Colonies now also includes juniors Jordan Mullaney on bass and Dylan Trupiano on guitar. The indie-rock band plays at District venues like Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe in Adams Morgan and Mason Inn just north of Georgetown regularly throughout the year.
The Colonies released their new album, “One of a Kind,” last month. The album contains 10 songs and starts with the higher-tempo “Coincidence” and ends with “Think About All You’ve Done,” an upbeat, guitar-heavy song that aligns itself with the band’s indie-rock reputation.
“It’s not a super long album,” Mamlin said. “I think we start really strong and it ends with ‘Think About All You’ve Done.’ That’s one of my favorites.”
In addition to performing live, the group releases their recorded albums on SoundCloud and Spotify so fans can listen for free. As far as traction goes, Stevens said they’ve filled smaller venues around the city and reached about 1,000 listeners through Spotify for their second album.
The band also released their first music video Oct. 21 with Rough Cut Productions, a student-run film production company headed by executive producer and founder Anh Nguyen, for their song “Our Troubles Going Away” from their latest album.
While the song is about a breakup, the music video starts with the story of a new couple. But the girl breaks it off after she finds out about her new boyfriend’s obsession with furry culture – a niche fetish for stuffed animals. The video ends with a final fight between the boy and a giant teddy bear.
“We just wanted to do something that wasn’t just a video of us performing,” Stevens said.
“One of a Kind” is The Colonies’ second album in two years. After the founding pair had an idea for the group at CI, they began recording their first demos remotely. Stevens and Mamlin emailed each other their separate parts instrument by instrument and finally composed and edited together the parts of their early songs in GarageBand. Their first performance took place months later in the basement of their home — Thurston Hall.
“Some poor girl was studying and she was like, ‘Be quiet,’” Stevens said. “We weren’t quiet.”
As the band grew, they moved out of their freshman residence hall and in to slightly better venues. The Colonies’ first paid show was at a “crappy” venue on Florida Avenue called Tree House Lounge, Mamlin said.
“It’s gone, been shut down for some health code violation, I’m sure,” Mamlin said.
Although The Colonies’ bring in some revenue from each listen on SoundCloud and Spotify, the band makes most of its money through performances.
“We do get royalties, but they’re not much. I think we have 70 cents in the bank account,” Stevens said. “We make money from concerts.”
At their last show at Songbyrd Oct. 19, the band headlined with two other groups – another GW-based group named RedLine, made up of two seniors, a sophomore and a Georgetown University student, and local rock group, Smith Gardens. Their last concert consisted of two other headlining bands so after their managing label’s cut, each member left with $40, Stevens and Mamlin said.
“I got a haircut with my money,” Mamlin said.
But the band members said they prioritize their passion over revenue and try to relay their personalities into their music.
“I think people have fun when they’re listening to our music,” Mamlin said. “When people come to our shows, they’re dancing and jumping around and we’re doing goofy stuff.”
The lengthy process of making an album also involves the band’s managing label, Searcher Records – a student-run enterprise headed by junior Dylan Yudis that was launched in 2015.
Searcher Records manages their clients’ venue spaces, performance schedules and recording times in the practice spaces in the basement of Shenkman Hall. Karim Abdel-Wadood, a junior and Searcher Record’s artists and repertoire manager, said his job is mainly organizing things for the group.
“Finding the space to record in is a bitch because you’ve got to get the equipment ready and each of the artists has different schedules,” he said. “It’s difficult to coordinate properly.”
With three semesters left in their college careers, the band plans to continue their performances after graduation. If they stay in the D.C.-area, Stevens expects to play shows whenever the others are available.
“We’re planning on graduating and we’re planning on probably using our degrees,” Stevens said. “But if the Colonies worked out, I think we would go with it. That’s a dream.”