There is a lot of rich history on the streets of Philadelphia. Rich with culture, food, and most of all, music. Every corner there is a venue that has an artist or band playing in it. From Underground Arts to Union Transfer, you can’t go wrong.
Not to mention just how many famous artists have gotten their start in Philadelphia, The Roots, Hall & Oates and even Joan Jett. So, it’s no surprise that artists are coming to Philly all the time to make their mark in the music industry.
There is a constant stream of garage bands making their mark and if you know people you’ll even be invited to the shows. This is how you can truly discover new music in a world where pop trash is taking over.
Which is where the band Past Life comes in. They are full of energy as, lead singer, Dash Williams describes it, “We knew that we didn’t want to be like every other sad boy band and whine into a microphone and stand still on stage. We wanted to write songs that told stories that touched on heavy topics and made people feel like they could move and sing along.”
Past Life is made up of Dash Williams, lead singer, Anthony Massucci, bass, Branden Bauer, guitar, and Justin Sterchele, drums.
Williams and Sterchele have been playing music together since they were in 7th grade. But, it wasn’t until Williams and his previous band split up and Sterchele moved back to Philly that they started playing together again.
The intertwining of Bauer into this story is a little different as Williams puts it, “he had basically been stalking me and trying everything he could to play music with me. After filling in on bass and drums for my old band a few times, playing music with him felt super natural.”
As for, Massucci, his start came from when Bauer told Williams that he would be a good fit for the band.
Massucci described it as, “Branden then joined a band with Dash and Justin and they were looking for a bassist. Branden kept suggesting me, but because I wasn’t 21 at the time, they didn’t want me because of bar gigs and what not. After a while not being able to find a bassist they finally let me join.”
They didn’t know for a solid six months that he didn’t play the bass. Williams said, “he’s just that good.”
As for coming up with the band name, Williams said it stemmed from his love of Mark Foster, lead singer of Foster The People.
“One day me and my friend Pat Cassidy [of The Districts] both skipped school, locked ourselves in my bedroom studio, and wrote/recorded the poppy-est song we could imagine and named it ‘Past Life’.”
So as Williams and Sterchele were looking at old songs that had written together, just to see if anything fit, they ran across “Past Life” and it fell right into place.
When you’re an up and coming indie rock band from Philly you run the risk of being put in a box like every other boy band.
“When we started, we knew that we didn’t want to be like every other sad boy band and whine into a microphone and stand still on stage. We wanted to write songs that told stories that touched on heavy topics and made people feel like they could move and sing along.”
Williams went on to say, “Between looking back at old songs and knowing what we didn’t want to be, things progressed pretty organically into what we are today.”
Sterchele said, “I think Dash, Branden, and I all agreed that we wanted a big sound. Bigger than we could imagine. We exemplify that not just in our music but our live performances as well. Between glow sticks, running into the crowd, balloons and all, we just aim for a grand party.”
For Williams, most of his inspiration comes from The 1975, Sufjan Stevens, and La Dispute. When he takes time to write Past Life’s music he makes sure to take the techniques he’s picked up from listening to mainstream pop, like their melodies, lyrics, chord progressions, and structures. When you listen to Past Life you can gather hints of a pop sound that has been dismantled by the focus of drums and bass.
As for everyone else in the band, it comes from a mix of indie rock, rap, R&B, and hip hop. So, anyone from mewithoutYou to Kendrick Lamar to Tame Impala. Which as Williams pointed out to me, is where all of their ideas for their rhythm sections come from.
Although Sterchele doesn’t listen to rock much anymore he said, “Twiabp, Tiny Moving Parts, La Dispute, and Touché Amore really taught me how to lock in and fly on drums. Also, Branden Bauer is inspiring as fuck.”
Taking all of their inspirations and developing their own unique sound has progressed them further in this industry than most bands see in their whole career.
In 2018, Williams had his dreams come true when Past Life opened up for Foster The People.
“As I mentioned before, they were a huge influence for me right of high school and it was super cool to share the stage with someone you’ve looked up to for a long time,” he said.
For Sterchele his favorite moment in 2018 was different, “We played our friends, Daisybones, album release show to a sold out crowd. Very touching that a bill filled with friends sold out at our favorite venue. We also played a rooftop show with Daisybones in Philly.”
Out of every show that the band has performed this year they all unanimously said that opening up for Hobo Johnson last summer was the coolest show they’ve ever played.
There were over 400 people there, “Everyone was going wild for us. They were singing and dancing and wanted autographs and selfies after the show – it was like being famous for a night,” Williams said.
It was the largest crowd that had ever performed in front of, they were worried that their sets that they normally had played in basements and small clubs wouldn’t transfer to larger venues, but they were proven wrong by the love the crowd showed them all night.
As for the future of Past Life in 2019, there is a lot you can expect. They are currently in the studio working on their debut album and how to most effectively get it into the world by next summer. They already have one tour solidified but for them that’s not enough, and they are trying to plan others as well.
They would also like to improve their online presence, as they have been absent from the scene for the past couple of months.
Williams says, “Not a day goes by that we haven’t been working on the next phase of Past Life…we’ve been planning incessantly so that when things start rolling next year, we can spend as much time with our fans as possible.”
For Past Life their fans are family and they would do anything for them. It’s no wonder that they are attracting so much attention. In a world where all we see is negative they give us something positive to focus on.