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Bajawalla hits Battle of the Bands and Pigtostal

Molly Griffin | Friday, April 22, 2005

The lives of the members of Bajawalla have taken different directions since most of the primary members graduated, but they are reuniting for Notre Dame’s Battle of the Bands and a few other performances before they spend the summer touring Chicago. The band’s upbeat performances and catchy songs made it a prominent figure on the campus music scene, and the band survived graduation, changing members and a range of monikers in order to return to perform this weekend. Members of Bajawalla include vocalist Lawrence Santiago, guitarist David Miller, drummer/trumpeter Peter Miller, keyboardist Mike Miamone and bassist Bobby Seus. Justin Brandon will be joining the band for this weekend’s shows and for the summer. Lee Elsey will fill in as bassist for this weekend’s shows while Bobby Seus is studying abroad in Dublin. The band formed in spring 2000 and has gone through a variety of names, including the Island Boys and Station One, and they won NAZZ in 2002. The band has changed lineups many times since then, and its current lineup was solidified in September 2003 when Bobby Seus joined the band.The band took a break so that the members, many of whom had graduated, could pursue other things in their lives. Lawrence Santiago pursued a modeling and acting career and just finished work on “The New World” with Colin Farrell. Mike Maimone took a job with an accounting firm, and Dave Miller went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry. Peter Miller went to medical school while Bobby Seus continued to study music at Notre Dame. While they were all focused on their various careers this past year, they decided to reunite for the summer because, according to Peter Miller, “There was a void in all of our lives during this break – music. There was still a dream in all of us – pursuing music with full force and ‘trying to make it.’ So we decided this is the summer to pursue our dream.” The musicians are currently in the process of booking shows and continue to work promoting their shows and honing their performance skills. Bajawalla has a distinct sound, somewhat reminiscent of surf music from California, and is not exactly the kind of music that you would expect to come out of Indiana. The variety of performers that influenced the band might have something to do with this geographical anomaly. “We have a vary eclectic sound, drawing on influences from Bob Marley, Phish, Sublime, Ben Harper, punk, ska, bluegrass, blues, jazz, funk, reggae,” Dave Miller said. “Many people compare us to a fusion of Sublime, Maroon 5 and Ben Harper to name a few.” Its songs, especially ones like “Cinderella,” are catchy and sound extremely polished and radio-ready. The band has played in many of the main South Bend venues, including Lula’s, the State Theatre, Reckers, Legends and Club 23. It typically draws somewhere between 100 and 250 people to its shows, and its members are all moving to the Chicago area for the summer in order to pursue music full time and to tour. “I’m really excited that we’re really just jumping right into it because we haven’t played together in a long time,” Seus said. “I’m confident that we can do some great things.” Downloads from the band’s first album “The Breaks” can be found on its Web site, located at www.bajawalla.com or www.isound.com/bajawalla. The band has been advised by former executives and vice presidents from major record labels like Columbia, and has been encouraged by its mentors to continue playing and recording music. Bajawalla will be performing at the Notre Dame Battle of the Bands on Friday, April 20 (check their Web site to find out what time they play). It will also perform at Pigtostal on Saturday, April 21 with The Overtone, Dave Moisan, Da Natural and others, and it will be at the State Theatre from 9 p.m. to midnight the same day with The Updogs, Dave Moisan, Da Natural and DJ Kirsh. It will be touring the Chicago area this summer, and information about dates and locations will be available on its Web site as well.