For many University of Richmond students, dreams of becoming a rock star may never go beyond the walls of Sine Irish Pub on karaoke Thursdays. But for one freshman, that dream has just begun after the iTunes release of his debut album.
"Parkside Sessions," the first album from Richmond freshman Patt Eagan, debuted on the iTunes music store at the end of January.
"I didn't even know it was on iTunes until a friend called me at lunch and said 'I just bought your CD on iTunes,'" Eagan said. "I was amazed."
Eagan, a native of Towson, Md., began creating "Parkside Sessions" two years ago and worked on it sporadically until May of last year. He recorded his tracks at a studio in his uncle's New York City apartment. That was where Eagan first found his passion for music, when he was in middle school.
"I was playing music my whole life," Eagan said, "but I have been playing guitar and writing since sixth grade."
He tried taking lessons for a short period, but he said he didn't enjoy the theory behind it, so he taught himself.
"Since then, it has kind of grown," he said. "I was always learning in a sense, but the style you hear on the CD and that kind of guitar work didn't really come into play until tenth grade."
At that time, Eagan was listening to a lot of 1970s rock music, but he said it didn't come out in his own music. Now, his musical inspirations include James Taylor, Citizen Cope and Damien Rice. He said he liked the rawness of their music, especially how personal their lyrics get.
"Bob Dylan has also been a huge influence on my music throughout the years," Eagan said, "especially when it comes to writing lyrics and wanting to really focus on what I'm singing about, as well as how I'm saying it, rather than just throwing words on top of instrumentals without much thought put into the process."
Although Eagan says his own music is difficult to categorize, he would classify it more as acoustic-alternative, and writes about his everyday experiences and frustrations, including relationships and life conflicts.
Freshmen Tim Nelson and Spencer Bates, two people who have already purchased Eagan's music from iTunes, both compared his music to Jack Johnson's.
"Patt is battling against a lot of similar-styled artists for success," Bates said, but his music has an original and genuine feel to it.
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Although Eagan certainly relies on his favorite musicians for inspiration, he tries to stray away from comparing himself to them.
"What I'm really trying to do is get my own sound out there," he said. "If I were to describe it to people, it's a mix of all those things because that's what it has been for me, taking everything that I've heard and it all flooding out into one specific style."
The most popular of Eagan's songs on iTunes is listed as "Sandbox Love," a favorite of Nelson's.
"'Sandbox Love' is extremely catchy and I could see it being in a top-40 type list," Nelson said. He later added that even if he hadn't known Eagan personally, he definitely still would have listened to his music.
For Bates, who said he typically listened only to rock, metal or rap, Eagan has opened his musical taste to a new genre of artists. "Discover" and "Softer Side" are his top choices on "Parkside Sessions" because he said Eagan's inventiveness on the guitar and vocals were at their best on these tracks.
Eagan said the feedback he had received from the student body so far had been tremendous. He has yet to use any Richmond experiences as inspiration behind new songs, but said he was open to the possibility. He said he didn't consider his musical career when choosing schools, but he did find it difficult to continue to create music in a college environment.
"It's harder to strike a balance than when I was at home because you don't have the ability to be alone and away from everything for some time, which is where all my writing takes place," Eagan said.
Eagan has yet to play any shows in the Richmond area, but he used to play shows in Baltimore, close to where he grew up. He said he would welcome the opportunity to play near campus, but was not sure what venues he would pursue.
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