Arts, Arts Features

New Student Band Jamsexual Channels Groovy, Feel Good Energy

You can tell a lot about a band from its name. The Dead Kennedys are fittingly synonymous with political punk songs. Slash is correlated with head-banging and string-breaking guitar riffs for Guns N’ Roses. So with a name like Jamsexual, the Boston College band’s performances have an expectation to be as memorable—and funky—as its moniker. 

Because of the band’s groovy pop-rock sound and a charismatic stage presence, Jamsexual is hard to forget. 

Guitarist Patrick Kelly, MCAS ’24, coined the band’s name during one of its practices last fall. At the time, the band was missing a lead singer, so the members spent their practice time freestyle jamming with their instruments.

“It was a sexy jam, and so it stuck,” Kelly said. 

The group is composed of Kelly, guitarist John Regis, MCAS ’24, keyboard player Ryan Barcy, MCAS ’25, lead singer Gabriel Biagi, MCAS ’25, drummer Michael Castellano, MCAS ’25, and bassist Michael McKane, MCAS ’25. 

Jamming and vibing with the music is what Jamsexual does best, as it proved with its performance at BC Music Guild’s Battle of the Bands on April 10. The band placed in the top three of Battle of the Bands and moved on to compete in BC’s Best on Friday, competing against two other BC bands, Photo Negative and Uncommonwealth. 

BC’s Best is an annual competition during the BC Arts Festival in which the top three artists from the Battle of the Bands and the Singer Songwriter competition spar for the title of BC’s Best. 

BC Music Guild canceled the Singer Songwriter competition this year due to a lack of submissions but chose musicians to compete in BC’s Best based on recorded performances that artists sent in, according to an email Music Guild sent to its members. 

This year, the winning artist or band will open for Dominic Fike at Modstock on May 5. 

For its performance on Friday, Jamsexual plans to incorporate the three original songs from its Battle of the Bands set: “Tongue Tied,” “Rockstar Song,” and “Fear the Phishman.” It will also debut a new, yet-to-be-named original song to round out its set. 

“These past couple of concerts we’ve done we really wanted to diversify our genres, so we’ve been doing different things,” Barcy said. “We’ll do rock, some sort of pop-rock. Just feel good vibes.”

Kelly said the band is most looking forward to performing for friends and making the audience smile during its set on Friday.

While Jamsexual is already making a name for itself around BC’s campus, it has only been together as a full band with all its current members this spring. 

The group originally started with Kelly and Regis in 2020. Regis has been playing guitar for nine years, and Kelly has been playing for five. The two started playing together because they were neighbors in their freshman year resident halls. 

Regis and Kelly played together over the duration of the year, but they did not add more members until the summer, when Regis came across Castellano’s drumming account on Instagram. Regis showed the account to Kelly, and they both decided Castellano would be an excellent addition to the band. 

The urgency to add more members did not hit until Regis and Kelly went to see a cover band of the famous ’90s rock band Phish play a show.  The concert inspired the duo, and they eagerly messaged Castellano asking him to join their band. 

With a drummer secured, things slowly started to fall into place for the band. Barcy, who plays the keyboard, is roommates with Castellano and joined the band shortly after him. The first song they all played together was “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

The newly formed quartet was still without a lead singer when the Music Guild’s fall showcase started approaching. In the band’s search for a singer, one of Kelly’s friends recommended Biagi, who he knew from the theatre department.

Biagi was focused on musical theatre, not on being in a band, starring as Melchior in the BC Dramatics Society’s production of Spring Awakening in the fall and as Brad Majors in BC Theatre’s Rocky Horror Picture Show

Biagi stepped in to perform with the band the week before the showcase, and the other members did not want to let him go afterward, according to Kelly.

“It was just an electric performance,” Castellano said. “The chemistry was just there between all of us, and we knew after that point that we could really be something.”

The group of five’s first show together was the Music Guild’s Fall Band Showcase. McKane joined this spring, just in time for the Battle of the Bands original song competition.

The songwriting process for Jamsexual is highly collaborative, according to Kelly. Barcy and Biagi are the main lyricists. The musicians each add another layer to the tracks, as McKane comes in on the bass, Castellano builds off the notes with a drum beat, Barcy blends in the keyboard, and Regis and Kelly add reverberating guitar riffs.  

Barcy said the musicians come to practice with a potential melody for the song, but at the end, the song looks nothing like what they started with. Biagi added that the lyrics almost always come in last. 

One of Jamsexual’s favorite songs to write was “Fear the Phishman,” a title that draws from Regis’ appreciation for the band Phish. The song centers around a heavy bass line by McKane, drawing from Nirvana and Green Day, two bands that inspired McKane to pursue music in the first place. 

In addition to playing its songs at BC’s Best, Jamsexual is aiming to release music on Spotify before the summer. The band is also playing a show at The Cantab Lounge, a live music lounge in Cambridge, on May 7 along with BC’s all-female punk band Cherry Dawn Planet.

Castellano and McKane said that their shared interest in music and similar music tastes—all drawing inspiration from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, and Vulfpeck—makes their bond special. Regis and Kelly agreed that they have built a brotherhood in the short time the band has been together. 

“It’s a place where I can go do what I like with other people doing what they like to do,” Biagi said. “And being in an environment like that where everyone’s passionate about what they’re doing is always just really uplifting.”

April 29, 2022