Who is Nick Gandolfo-Lucia?
“There comes a point in every middle school boy’s life when you realize you are not very spectacular. That sounds depressing, but it made me pick up a guitar and start thinking about who I am.”
Nick Gandolfo-Lucia ‘16, the lead man of the Haverford punk band You’re Making a Scene, Housecat, stares off towards the observatory as he explains the start of his music career in the South Jersey suburbs. Clasping a black coffee with both hands, he moves fluidly from topics like Taking Back Sunday to “crafting music with a non-possessive language of desire.”
Although he is no longer making music in the South Jersey suburbs, the senior English major still sports the same “scene kid” hair he had in middle school and wears a plaid flannel and cut-off jean shorts he made himself.
Gandolfo-Lucia is a documentarian, writing center tutor and standout member of the men’s cross country team. He recently came out with a new documentary, his fourth in the past few years, and he has hosted several screenings of it since the school year began. It is hard to believe that this schedule allows any time to pick up a guitar and play a few songs, let alone write them. For Gandolfo-Lucia, however, the music is a form of therapy: it gives him an opportunity to de-stress and to take a step back from his work. It is something he continually goes to when he needs an emotional outlet.
Without the band and classes to keep him preoccupied this past winter break, Gandolfo-Lucia decided to work on a solo music project.
“It was 20 degrees and I was running 85 miles per week,” said the lead singer. “It was miserable and I needed work to do. So, I recorded in my attic and mixed at my dining room table.”
The release he gets from composing is evident in the music he produces: his lyrics are emotionally charged and, at times, dramatic. But they tell stories of very real, relatable situations. One of the band’s latest tracks, “By Choice, Man,” is about “the feeling of being so trapped in your body that you can’t get out of it to do something, like ask a girl to coffee.”
“It’s kind of silly, but it explodes into this gigantic Greek tragedy,” explains Gandolfo-Lucia. “The ‘by choice, man,’ that’s like you decide it’s your own choice but it’s really not your choice. You’re just telling yourself that it is. That’s the irony of the song.”
Throughout most of Gandolfo-Lucia’s songs are themes of past girl troubles and thoughts about dropping out. Yet not all of You’re Making a Scene, Housecat’s songs are melodramatic. The songs on Housecat’s latest split EP with the Temple University band Water Polo took on a more serious note. For Gandolfo-Lucia, “it was an experiment for what going to uncomfortable places and bringing back language looks like.”
One of those places was writing about the passing of his grandfather in the song, “Sleep Well.”
“[My grandfather] was a Catholic and I’m an atheist. When you start to sit there at this place in between, it feels terrible.”
It is, however, this raw, unfettered emotion that Gandolfo-Lucia is so adept at conveying in his songs.
However, the singer’s dedication to his craft does not always make life easy. A few days ago, after feeling sick throughout the week, a two-hour run on Saturday morning left him dizzy. By 7 p.m. he was in the emergency room. Housecat was scheduled to play a release show for their new split album that evening.
At 10:30 p.m., it was still unclear whether Housecat was even going to perform. James House was packed with so many expectant Housecat fans that the windows fogged over and the overflowing crowd began to gather outside. Ryan Gooding ’16, the band’s guitarist, assured everyone that Gandolfo-Lucia would play if discharged in time.
Fifteen minutes before showtime, Gandolfo-Lucia strode through the door and was met with cheers. He was sporting a bandage on his arm where an IV used to be and an oversized t-shirt with the message: “RECLAIM LANGUAGE.” When he expressed his regret over the mic for missing the other bands, the crowd’s energetic cheers and frenetic moshing assured him that he was forgiven. And, despite his stint in the hospital, Gandolfo-Lucia not only played, but did so with the enthusiasm and gusto expected of the front man.
Still a Loud Punk Band
With senior year here, the band sat down recently and talked about producing a full-length album—a musical thesis to cap their Haverford tenure.
“We got together and said ‘Yeah, let’s do it. But if we’re going to do it serious, then let’s do it as artists.’ ”
Gandolfo-Lucia explained that this seriousness was something Dylan Verner-Crist ‘16 brought to the band.
“[Verner-Crist] is really musical and he makes us play as musicians. He has inflected that on me.”
When asked about the future, Gandolfo-Lucia is quick to say that their plans are all tentative.
“Whether anything gets written or recorded, that’s still up in the air. I would be happy just producing an extended piece of six or seven songs, partially because this is our last year. Braeden [Housecat’s drummer] still has school and the rest of us-Dan, Dylan, Ryan and I-will all be going away to different places.”
In the interim, Gandolfo-Lucia tells us not to expect anything drastically different from the band.
“We have our own little corner of the world and we aren’t interested in expanding that. We are a local band and want to stay a local band.”
They’ll still be playing apartment basements, making light of their feelings through songs and turning squash courts into performance spaces. As Gandolfo-Lucia put it: “At the end of the day we are still a loud punk band.”
You’re making a Scene, Housecat’s latest EP and all their music can be found online at housecatpa.bandcamp.com. Nick’s solo work can be found at tactless.bandcamp.com.