StereoSoul's name may not sound familiar, but the guys have all been part of the local scene for quite some time. The band members started playing together around eight years ago in a series of band names that wound up being Cosmic Avenger. According to Gene Pompilio, the band's drummer, the band basically evolved into StereoSoul after running its course.
"We went into a real studio to record in for the first time," explained Pompilio. "It was the Pigeon Club in Hoboken. We came out with three songs and it really didn't sound like what we were doing as Cosmic Avenger. So we kind of felt we needed to change the name of the band to reflect the music a little better."
The new name came from a line in the song, "Mary Stuyvesant", which was originally written for Cosmic Avenger but never played by that band. The song can now be found on StereoSoul's debut CD.
StereoSoul currently consists of Gene Pompilio on drums and vocals (he is one of the few drummers in the area to play drums and sing lead at the same time), Joon Quinn on guitar/keyboards, John Moller on synth bass and keyboards, and Tom Spelda on guitar. Both Quinn and Moller also share lead vocal duties.
StereoSoul is one of the few Jersey Shore bands to blend a little surf music sound to their songs. Many of the band members were influenced by the music of the 50s, 60s as well as popular surf bands like the Beach Boys. StereoSoul's own sound has often been compared to bands like Fountains of Wayne.
"It's not even like we do that on purpose either," added Pompilio. "I think that's why I really like what we have and the mix that we have in it because everybody brings something totally different to the band. My songs, if I just played them strictly the way I wrote them, would all pretty much sound the same way. But then you add in a little bit of everyone else. Tom (Spelda) joined around the time we turned the band into StereoSoul and what he brings to the band is just a totally different aspect - something that I wouldn't even be able to envision putting into the songs. It's just a different set of influences and when you put all that stuff together, it's not like you consciously try to make something sound a certain way, it just comes out that way."
"I think that, in some ways, everybody's had a common thread with the late sixties," said Spelda. "Like Gene said, if he originates the song then everybody gets to throw in what they will and mix it up a bit and see what happens. Usually we have very good results."
The new record, which was officially released at the end of October, is being distributed nationwide by Select-O-Hits. The first single, "(I'm In Love With A Porno Star", has already been added to over 200 stations around the country. It's a great radio-friendly, pop tune that seems infectious from the first listen and stands a good chance of being the band's break-out song.
Success may or may not loom ahead for the band, and they know that it comes down to hard work and a little luck. But music will continue to drive them forward.
"If I could make like $25,000 a year, I'd be the happiest guy in the world," said Quinn. "Other than that, I'd love to be on MTV or in Rolling Stone and be seen by all the people who have laughed at us, which has happened a lot - but the big thing is $25,000."
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at email@example.com.