Rich Howells

VIDEO PREMIERE: Scranton alt rock band University Drive lines up together for ‘Execution’

VIDEO PREMIERE: Scranton alt rock band University Drive lines up together for ‘Execution’
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Anyone who has seen University Drive knows what a tight band they are, and behind the scenes, the group has become even tighter.

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

As part of the build-up, today they are releasing their next music video on NEPA Scene for a song called “Execution” that shows just how collaborative Ed Cuozzo (lead vocals, guitar), Angelo Maruzelli (guitar, vocals), Ryan Grutt (bass), and Steve Martin (drums) have become, even more so than they were on “Clear,” their well-received concept record that 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 and feeling it become strained. It’s sort of in line with a lot ‘Clear’ lyrically… sort of watching the aftermath of it all and how complicated it can get. I think of it like ‘Clear’ was being in a house the moment it caught on fire – panic, confusion, terror. ‘Execution’ and the new album is more like standing across the street a few days after the house caught on fire… just observing the damage/ruins it left behind and trying to figure out what happens next,” Cuozzo explained.

“What I think is really cool though about writing this song was when I started to write it, I immediately recognized that it would sound way more awesome if Angelo was singing lead on it – it just was right in a sweet spot of his vocal range, so I sent it over to him and told him I thought he should do it, and then we both sort of co-wrote the tune back and forth through emails. He changed some lyrics and some vocal melodies, and he added a whole entire different bridge section and outtro. It was a really exciting moment to know that we could co-write some tunes.”

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 quite some time and we love it there, so one day we were just outside talking about how we need to find a big white room for the next video and Bob, the one guy who works at Encore, is just like, ‘You mean like this?’ and then he revealed that right next to the rehearsal rooms there was a separate space they were working on – and it was an enormous white room. It was fate,” he said with a laugh.

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

“It was really fun to shoot it too! Angelo is singing lead in the song and he’s giving this really intense performance so it was really fun to play a supporting position in the video as opposed to it just being my stupid face again.”

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

“We have like four more songs to mix… then it’s done. Just trying to make it as good as it can be before we release it into the world,” Cuozzo emphasized. “It’s all coming together.”

While he couldn’t say what exactly that “all” is yet, local fans have gotten a little preview of what’s to come from their intense live performances, including opening for Wilkes-Barre hard rock band Lifer at venues like the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains. Several members of Lifer also play in Cold, a national act that University Drive toured the country with in 2019.

“Shows at the Jazz Cafe were incredible! We love the guys in Lifer so, so much. I think after making our initial connection on the road with Nick [Coyle] and the rest of Cold, it just sort 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 just sort of kept doing it! It’s been great – really love playing with those guys. I think at the end of the day we both just 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 others 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 at the end of 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 are more shows being put on safely and with higher attendance. It’s a bummer because of how much great talent is in the area. We definitely need more venues, though. It was actually really fun to play as a trio, but can’t help but miss those additional guitars and vocals.”

Thankfully, the whole band was able to participate in a recently released short documentary that chronicled 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, yet their bond was just as strong as ever.

“We just wanted to give the people who feel a connection with our band a little more insight into what our process is like, or what this specific process was like, and show them a little more of the dynamic and chemistry of the band. Eric Curtis, who has done all the video stuff for us (amazingly talented man), was the one filming, and honestly 99.9 percent of the time we had no idea he was even the room filming when he was. He would just sort of blend in with the furniture or recording equipment,” Cuozzo chuckled.

“We do have a title [for the album]. We’re just waiting on the right moment to announce it. That being said, if you watch the mini doc, the title is said quite a few times in there.”

As anticipation grows for University Drive’s next chapter, the 35-year-old singer stayed 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 very appreciated – we don’t take any of it for granted, and we can’t wait to release this new record!”