Rich Howells

EXCLUSIVE: Scranton alt rockers University Drive ‘Heal’ with album release show at Jazz Cafe on Aug. 26

EXCLUSIVE: Scranton alt rockers University Drive ‘Heal’ with album release show at Jazz Cafe on Aug. 26
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Two years filled with “an insane amount of work,” buckets of “blood, sweat, and tears,” and two months of touring the country supporting Cold are finally culminating in August when University Drive releases their third album with a hometown event announced today.

This afternoon, Scranton-based alt rock outfit revealed the title of the anticipated record, “Heal,” and an album release show at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains on Friday, Aug. 26 exclusively on NEPA Scene.

“While on tour, we were really trying to just play our most-played songs that anyone who might have taken the time to look us up on Spotify or something would hear, but for a home show like this where we have more of a foundation and some history as a band, we can dig a little deeper into our catalog of music and tell a bigger story on stage,” vocalist/guitarist Ed Cuozzo said.

Fellow Scranton-area indie and alternative bands Esta Coda, James Barrett, and Retrovai round out the lineup of this 21+ concert.

Doors at the Jazz Cafe (667 N. River St., Plains) open at 7 p.m., and the music starts at 8 p.m. Tickets, which are $12, can be purchased online soon via

“River Street Jazz Cafe has always been an amazing venue to play at – great sound, awesome staff, and just a great vibe for somewhere to go and see a show. We feel really comfortable on that stage, and I’ve always just loved seeing shows there,” he continued.

“We just wanted a mixture of bands that would have felt like a fun show to go and see. Plus, they’re all basically our best buds. Esta Coda, James Barrett, and Retrovai consistently bring the goods.”

Cold, best known for gold-certified hits like “Stupid Girl” and “Just Got Wicked,” took UD on tour with them in 2019 as “special guests.” This year, they served as direct support on Cold’s 36-date coast-to-coast Black Sunday Tour, which ran from March 29 through May 15 and provided many opportunities to perfect their live performances at legendary venues like the Whisky a Go-Go and The Machine Shop.

“I think being on the Black Sunday Tour whipped us into shape as a live unit, for sure. It definitely made us all think of the band a little differently, going from the old way of just playing a gig with a lot of energy to a more refined approach and building a proper show with mood and emotion while still bringing power and energy,” Cuozzo explained.

Over the past year, local listeners as well as new fans they’ve made on the road have heard the singles “Ending” and “Execution,” which both premiered on NEPA Scene with their first-ever music videos, along with “Carry It.” The rest of the new album will debut on all streaming platforms on Aug. 26, and physical copies will be available that night at the show. Recorded with Paul Smith at Eight Days a Week Studios in Northumberland, “Heal” follows up “Clear,” their well-received concept record that was named Album of the Year at the 2019 Steamtown Music Awards.

“We spent two years trying to make this record, and while it was a really fun process, it was also a ton of work with plenty of ups and downs. I really wanted to make a true follow-up to ‘Clear’ lyrically without it being forced, and musically I wanted to take us somewhere else. It means the world to me that we just finished another record at all,” Cuozzo shared.

“I don’t think we will be playing the entire record [live at the release show]. I think we will be digging deeper into our catalog of songs; I think we will be performing a lot of tunes we wouldn’t normally be playing alongside of some new ones. We just want to put on a great show and make it worth everyone’s while.”

Considering the group’s recent success and their Rock/Alternative Act of the Year win in the 2020 Steamtown Music Awards, that shouldn’t be a problem for the five-piece. Even as they set the stage for the next step in their career, University Drive remembers where they came from and is ready to impress Northeastern Pennsylvania all over again next month.

“I just want to once again thank absolutely everyone for all of their support these past couple of years. If it wasn’t for them, I’m 100 percent confident we wouldn’t have made it this far. Thank you, friends.”

Learn more about the band and hear new stories from the Black Sunday Tour in Episode 144 of the NEPA Scene Podcast, recently recorded live on May 25:

Photo by Jason Riedmiller Photography/NEPA Scene