Arts, On Campus

Student Band Uncommonwealth Releases First EP ‘Crashing Waves’

The nostalgic sounds of 2000s rock ring through Uncommonwealth’s first EP, Crashing Waves, released on April 2. The songs vary wildly in tone, from “Evasion” and its striking guitar solo, to the five-minute ominous vocals of the title track “Crashing Waves.” 

Crashing Waves is a compilation of the Boston College student band’s original works. The EP consists of four new tracks, as well as the band’s previously released “Phoenix from Mars.” The group completed the EP prior to Spring Break in March. Crashing Waves’ rock sound is available on all major streaming platforms. 

Ben Austen, MCAS ‘24, and Cole Dumas, MCAS ’24, initially formed the band Uncommonwealth in 2020. The pair started playing together during Austen and Dumas’ freshman year, busking with their guitars outside on Upper Campus, according to Austen. Drummer AJ Morgan, MCAS ’24, and lead singer and guitarist Tommy Lynn, CSOM ’24, also joined the band later that year. Soon after, Spencer Bono, CSOM ’23, joined during his sophomore year as the band’s bassist. 

“We were just like jamming acoustic,” Austen said. “Tommy would come over sometimes. He was like this really, really, good guitarist who came out to play with us. … We eventually decided to try to start to form a band.” 

The band borrows its name from Commonwealth Ave., which borders BC’s main campus. But the group added its own twist, deciding that “Uncommonwealth” had a nice ring to it and a connection to where the band was founded. 

The musicians classify their band within the rock revival genre, taking inspiration from Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes.

Each band member personally enjoys distinct genres, adding to the blend that makes up Uncommonwealth’s unique sound. Dumas enjoys the music of The Smiths and R.E.M., while Bono likes heavy metal like Metallica. Together, the band forms an interesting tone that doesn’t fit neatly into one genre. 

Lynn, Austen, and Dumas lead the band’s songwriting process. The open-ended  lyrics of Crashing Waves often reflect on the past, as well as noting foreboding obstacles in the future. Through the EP, the musicians look to express challenges of college and adolescence, according to Dumas.

“We try / We cry / No going back / Our eyes are burning,” Lynn sings on the track “Evasion.” 

But creating Crashing Waves came with its own challenges for the musicians.

“We [had] arguments about roles sometimes,” Austen said. “We’d have disagreements about how tones should sound in some songs.” 

Lynn said that he often underestimated the release time for the EP when telling his friends. The band started to compile its original songs and record new creations in 2021 before finally finishing the EP in March.

In “Beautiful, Wonderful Day,” Uncommonwealth uses an acoustic guitar and Austen’s mellow voice to accentuate a soft-rock sound. The song’s lyrics recall Florida’s air and the feel of a series of fictitious childhood memories. Uncommonwealth’s music is often narrative driven, vividly describing the setting through Lynn and Austen’s vocals. 

“My own father was a coal miner, went to work every day / Came home coughing but we needed the money so he couldn’t quit anyway,” Austen sings on “Beautiful, Wonderful Day.” 

The band members created memorable experiences in the process of making their Crashing Waves EP. The editing process was the most fulfilling part of the production process, Lynn said. During that final week, they would stay up in the studio all night, recording the parts they needed to finish the project. It was a race against the deadline they set for themselves: Spring Break. 

“At the end of March, right before Spring Break, … we wanted to be able to release it on all platforms a month from then, so we said we’re going to get it done,” Lynn said. “We put in the work, we put the effort in, and got it done.”

There is no specific theme across the EP’s tracks—instead, the EP is a compilation of the best original songs the band produced since its inception. This collection includes the title track “Crashing Waves,” which Lynn described as a loose biblical allegory, as the lyrics tell the story of Noah’s Ark and Cain and Abel. The drum rhythm adds a layer of tension as the lead singer repeats the lines of the chorus. 

“So I sit tight with you by my side / In the sand, hand in hand / As we watch the crashing waves,” Lynn sings. 

The band competed in last year’s Battle of the Bands, hosted by the BC Arts Council and BC Music Guild. Uncommonwealth plans to participate again in this year’s competition on April 10 to showcase its new originals. Uncommonwealth will also perform Crashing Waves on WZBC, BC’s student-run radio station, on Friday. 

The band members hope to play more shows and expand their discography by releasing more original music. 

But even without screaming fans or Spotify royalties, Bono enjoys the band’s normal weekly practices in Carney Hall. 

“The highlight of my week, every single week, is going to practice,” he said. “I could do that for as long as I’m alive. I don’t really care if we sell a million copies or if we sell two copies to my parents. … I just want to play with these guys.”

Featured Image by Nicole Vagra / Heights Editor

April 5, 2022