Updated : 11/27/01

One of the most promising emo-pop bands to arrive on the scene in awhile, it seems that Student Rick has it all. Catchy songs, a great attitude, and a strong will to make it to the top. Based out of South Bend, Indiana, the band is barely a year old and already making noise due to their just released Soundtrack For A Generation CD on Victory Records. I recently did a phone interview with drummer Zach Davis and bassist Jason Pavilanis to find out more about the Student Rick generation…

Highwire Daze: Introduce yourselves, what you do in Student Rick, and how long the band has been together.

Jason: I'm Jason Pavilanis and I play bass guitar.

Zach: My name is Zach Davis and I play the drums.

HD: So how long has the band been together?

Jason: The name's been thrown around for probably a year and a half, but us four members have been working extensive for a little over a year.

HD: So where is the band based out of and what is the music scene like there?

Jason: We're from South Bend, Indiana which is about two hours east of Chicago. It's the home of Notre Dame University, so we're some fighting Irish kids playing some rock and roll. (Laughter)

Zach: The scene around here is not the greatest. There's not really many places to play that allow younger age kids to come and play their music. There's a lot of bands, there just aren't enough venues to play that will let younger kids come. It's not really a punk rock or hippie scene - we have a little bit of anything.

HD: Are there a lot of cover bands there?

Zach: Yeah, all the bar bands are cover bands and they all hate us.

HD: Have you guys ever been forced to play covers?

Zach: We play one cover in our band by Journey called Any Way You Want It, but that's about as far as we've gone. It's just to rally the crowd, get everybody into it and have a little bit of fun. Pull out the good old rock and roll. We're Journey fans. We're looking to do a Bon Jovi cover and drop the Journey sometime, but we don't know.

HD: Who exactly is Student Rick and where'd you get the idea for the name?

Jason: Actually the name was just something that came up. We kind of used it as an analogy for all of our songs. It's like something that we based the four members around, because it's all experiences that we've had. We can relate to all the songs and we hope that other people can as well. It just gives us and the listeners their own meanings to Student Rick. There's no true meaning behind it and there's no actual kid named Student Rick.

HD: If you had to describe your music to an old lady, what would you say to her?

Zach: When I tell an older person, you can't just say punk, although that's how we're classified even though we're not. We've got the pop punk influence, but when it all comes down to it, it's the basic rock influence minus the heavy metal new age rock. It's really hard to describe for me.

Jason: When I tell people what genre we are, I usually just say we're an emotional rock and roll unit that has pop influences as well as punk.

Zach: When it all comes down to it, it's all just rock and roll. If it was an old lady, I would tell her it was like Elvis or something.

HD: With you guys being around for such a short time, are you surprised that you've been signed so fast?

Jason: Yeah, we're very shocked. But we've all been in the scene for a long time around here in other bands. We've all paid our dues and we've had basic connections, but we all worked extremely hard when we got together. Our work ethic is very good and that's what's gotten us the furthest place. Our work ethic, and in our hearts this is what we wanted to do - we wanted to make it happen. So as far as that, I'm not really surprised seeing as far as we've come, but to actually get the chance to do it is amazing.

HD: How did you guys wind up on Victory Records?

Jason: Basically we ended up recording an EP in a period of like four months. But we recorded the single October Skies by itself first, and we spent a decent amount of money on it - which kind of put us in the hole for one song.

Zach: We did it very early in the band's career.

Jason: Yeah, it was back in October and we had only been together for like a month. We had a set of at least ten songs at the time. But we decided on recording October Skies - we went in and recorded it and decided to see how this one song does. We kind of solicited it to a bunch of different labels, and one label that took an interest in it was Victory Records. It was weird, because we sent it to their publicist Kathi which we did not know at all. But she fell in love with the song and she passed it around Victory, and they all fell in love with it as well. So she came out and saw us play live and said that you guys really have something going here but we can't exactly sign a band off of just one song. And that's what a lot of the labels were saying to us - it's just one song - why don't you give us about six more? So three months later we got back into the studio. Didn't exactly have the money to do it, but we did it anyway and we recorded the EP with seven songs including Octobers Skies. And we ended up sending all seven to all of the labels. We had quite a few labels interested in it, but one of the labels we were looking forward to working with in the future was Victory. We pursued working out a contract with them, which they gave us in February and we ended up signing with them in March of 2001.

HD: You guys are a little bit different from everybody else on Victory.

Zach: Yeah, we're definitely the other side as far as Victory bands go.

Jason: They wanted to branch out to a different style of music and that was one thing that we were looking forward to. Labels like Vagrant and Drive Thru are awesome, but they've all got a lot of bands that we fit in very well with, and sometimes bands get lost in the shuffle when there are a lot of bands on the label that are similar.

Zach: We knew that by going with Victory, that if we showed them that we were going to work for them and work our asses off and be a good band at what we're doing - even though it wasn't what the other bands were doing as far as style of music - that they would push us a lot harder than possibly a Vagrant or Drive Thru label would have done for us. We are the only style of band of theirs, and they would want to see a band like us on their label be just as big as any of the harder bands of theirs.

HD: So you guys are about to go on tour?

Jason: Actually we've been on tour since August. Our tour ended up getting canceled due to the New York tragedy. We actually have a pretty funny story to tell if you want to hear it. It's kind of spooky. Give it to him, Zach.

Zach: The night before on September 10th, we had a Connecticut show and the next night would be in New York. So we drive as far as we can, and we kind of got a little lost looking for a hotel that we afford. So we pulled off at the gas station at three in the morning. I walked in there and was asking for directions, and there was this Arab guy there. He gives me all these bogus directions. So I'm like screw this, let's go somewhere else and get some more directions and keep looking on our own. So he comes out to the van and he says…

Jason: He says, "A word to the wise. I would not travel a long distance. Word has it that winter is coming early this year. I know, I have satellites."

Zach: It meant nothing to us. I just figured he was some spook, some bum or something.

Jason: It was like what kind of comment is that? I'm sweating my ass off in the back of the van.

Zach: But the next day we found out, when the building came down, it was nothing but white light silvery debris. I don't know if that means anything.

Jason: It looked like snow over the city. So we end up turning it into the FBI.

Zach: Yeah, we had the FBI and all the papers talking to us. It was a big deal. I don't know if the guy was a part of it or anything or if he was just a guy who was on the street.

Jason: So we ended up driving home. We were like "Let's get the fuck out of New York!'

HD: Sounds like an episode of The Twilight Zone here! So what is a live Student Rick show like for those of us who have not see you play yet?

Jason: It just starts off with a lot of energy. We start off with Monday Morning, the first song from our new record Soundtrack For A New Generation. And it just kicks people in the ass. And we just keep the energy going through the whole show. Our record is slow and melodic, but we just keep a lot of energy going and it's a very emotional act.

Zach: Viewers definitely don't get bored. There's always stuff going on and it's a lot of fun. We try to incorporate the fans and interact with the crowd a lot.

HD: Are you guys going to play out here in Los Angeles or have you ever before?

Zach: No, but we're looking forward to it.

Jason: The further west we've ever been is out in Colorado, and that was just to do the record - out at The Blasting Room with Bill Stevenson. We definitely want to tour out West and hit up Cali.

Zach: We'll be heading out there in November and December to do a West Coast tour and we're pretty excited - especially since we've never been there before.

HD: So while out on the road, if someone offered you $100 to play Oops I Did It Again by Britney Spears, would you do it?

Jason: Holy sh*t! Yeah! We wouldn't even take the money! We're huge fans of Britney Spears. We love her! She's amazing. She's so awesome! On that new song, she moans in it! I mean, it doesn't get any better than that!

Zach: Have you seen the new video! She belly dances! You gotta check that out!

HD: So Student Rick is invited to play two songs at Chelsea Clinton's next sorority party. What two songs would you play for Chelsea and her friends and why?

Jason: I think for the sorority girls, we would have to do a cover of some sort. I'm thinking the all time Bon Jovi song You Give Love A Bad Name.

Zach: But to hang tough with the sorority girls, we'd have to bust out some hip hop or rap stuff. That would be tough to do, but I think we could pull it off - you know, just for Chelsea.

Jason: We should do a rendition of Bon Jovi mixed with like a Jay Z song. And then bust out an original, probably Falling For You.

Zach: Yeah, we'd have to play our new single Falling For You. It usually gets the girls, sometimes. We actually don't get the girls. We hope other guys out there in the world play our songs for their girlfriends and they get them. Because we don't get them. I've never gotten a girl out on tour. It just doesn't happen.

HD: Aww man, that sucks!

Jason: Our merch guy does all the time.

Zach: Yeah, we've got to fire him!

HD: So what would you like to leave a listener with after hearing your music?

Jason: We definitely want to feel proud of what we've done. We definitely want the listener to feel appreciated after they listen to it. I just want them to think, gosh I know what that person was thinking about and feeling when they wrote that song. And being able to relate to those songs.

HD: Any messages for those who might be interested in checking out your music?

Zach: We're just normal people. We're not any better than the people listening to it. We'd hope that they could relate to our songs just like we relate to them. Support us, if you like what you hear, that's great. We'll help our fans out and we're very dedicated to them. We always talk to them; we're never dicks at our shows. We're very loyal to our fans as they usually are to us. And it really means a lot. And just thanks a lot for taking the time to even listen to one song. We really appreciate it.


All photos by Kenneth Morton


VICTORY RECORDS:The record label for Student Rick!
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