Campus band Camera Shy Paparazzi has been busy this semester making music and winning awards. Band members and mass communication production majors Craig Castagna and David Blanchard recently took home second place in a regional battle of the bands, competing with other colleges at the Sci-Fi Cafe in New Haven.
The event, held in April, showcased battle of the bands winners from schools including the University of New Haven and Yale, with Camera Shy Paparazzi representing Quinnipiac. The band members were happy with the outcome, but saw the event as more of a chance to practice their live songs in front of an audience, rather than a competition with winners and losers.
“It wasn’t nearly as big a deal as we were expecting,” Blanchard said. “I was thinking it would be some huge gathering with tons of schools and lots of people but it turned out to be a small UNH crowd with our faithful Camera Shy Paparazzi supporters. It gave Craig and I a chance to tighten up the live show and see what works and what doesn’t.”
“Dave and I just needed an excuse to rock out on a Wednesday night, so we were happy to play,” Castagna added. “The best part of that experience was that I totally forgot that I was being judged while playing, it only occurred to me after our performance that I was in a battle of the bands. How can you compare bands to one another? It’s ridiculous. Dave and I always believed that music should not be a competition.
“I would like to think that our music brings people together to have a good time, there’s way too much negative garbage out there these days,” he said.
Blanchard and Castagna have been performing together for three years, starting out in the campus band, Likewise, where Blanchard covered vocals and Castagna played drums. The duo created Camera Shy Paparazzi initially for the WQAQ-sponsored Open Mic Night, an event in which the group took first place honors.
Following their success at Open Mic Night, Camera Shy Paparazzi released their first CD, “Sans Genre.” Containing 16 original tracks, their debut disc is a showcase of their best collaborative efforts. One of their newest songs, “Touch Me,” is already entered into rotation on the campus radio station, and is a popular request at live shows.
“The only two times we’ve played it (live), people have been singing along and screaming like Craig is Paul McCartney or something,” Blanchard noted about recent performances.
“The best songs are the ones that we write together,” Castagna said. “I’ve always felt a creative connection with Dave. The songwriting comes easy when I’m with him, alone I struggle more.”
Blanchard says that another CD is already in the works for this summer, and the duo plans to perform shows in the area, possibly with another student musician, senior Christopher Fredda.
“(We’re hoping to) work some more with Quinnipiac’s own Chris Fredda,” he said. “We jammed a couple of times and it was sounding good.”
Networking is the key for new student musicians looking to start a band, Castagna says. He encourages students to stop him or Blanchard on the street and ask for student-friendly performance venues and advice on starting a band on campus, noting that the four years spent in college go by very quickly.
Blanchard agrees. “I am ecstatic about the enthusiasm for rock here on campus. This definitely wasn’t the case when we were freshmen. Go ahead and form a band, keep going to see rock shows in Connecticut. This school is sprouting some (student musicians) that know their music and that’s definitely a good thing,” he said.
Interested students who would like to speak with Castagna or Blanchard about starting a campus band, or obtaining a copy of “Sans Genre,” can contact them at their Quinnipiac email addresses, [email protected] or [email protected]