The Parsons Music Library is usually quiet on a Wednesday evening, filled with students getting work done for their Thursday classes or taking a solitary moment to practice their instruments. But in the music studio on the first floor of Parsons, the sound of music bounces off the walls as the boys of Dogpark, a band made up of five University of Richmond students, practice for their next show. Despite the small space they practice in, the band makes the room feel like a stadium show as they play “Hard to Handle” by The Black Crowes.
Senior Will Harford came to UR wanting to create a band. He came to college with four years of experience performing with his high school band. As someone who had loved writing and performing music, he was eager to create a musical group, as it was something he thought was lacking on campus.
“I got here and thought, ‘Where is the live music? Why don’t people know that live music exists?’” Harford said.
Harford was the one that assembled the band together, drawing on his connections from classes, social groups — anyone who would have a passion for music, fifth-year lead vocalist Eamon Moore said.
Though there have been a number of different combinations of band members since its origin in 2021, the current five members have a strong sense of connection between them, musically and personally. Moore (vocals and guitar), senior Chris Conte (drums), junior Billy Apostolou (guitar), Harford (vocals and guitar) and the newest addition junior Declan Harris (bass) are the five boys that makeup Dogpark.
The five played multiple shows, including lodges and other social events, doing whatever they could to gain attention around UR, Harford said.
“I just talked about the band wherever I went,” Harford said. “To all of my friends, I was like, ‘I’m in a band. Do you need a band? Just let me know.’”
His marketing of the band paid off, as he was able to get the band — formerly known as egdole — booked at the Spider Street Festival in fall 2021. It was their first official show and from there, they kept pushing to widen their audience and reach, Harford said.
This past summer, they were able to book their first gig outside the UR music scene in Washington D.C. when a friend of Apostolou and Harford’s reached out about playing in their backyard, Moore said.
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When it comes to their live shows, the band plays a number of covers that they practice in Parsons. Songs like “Brazil” by Declan McKenna and “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon are polished and practiced, as all the members will shout out corrections to each other. The connection between all of them is visible. They easily pick up on quick fixes on a guitar riff or change in tempo. Their respect for each other as musicians and friends makes for live music that feels electric and alive.
Part of their chemistry as a group is their commitment to friendship outside of the studio at Parsons. Harford and Conte spent their summer in the studio in Parsons, writing and producing original music nearly every day. Moore, Harford and Harris have class together, Moore and Apostolou live together this school year — the list could go on about ways the band members are connected in and outside of the studio.
“I would have all of them over every Wednesday for dinner and board games,” Apostolou said, referencing when all five of the band members lived in Richmond this past summer. “We called it ‘Gyro Wednesday.’”
Each band member has a love and passion for music, stemming from a young age. Harris, who can play guitar, bass and mandolin, found his dad’s 1988 Gibson SG behind the couch housed in a guitar case with purple shag, which, at the time, he thought was the coolest thing ever.
“I had seen pictures of Angus Young and Eric Clapton playing it and I decided to pick it up,” Harris said, crediting lots of the 70s and 80s rock for his inspiration for guitar and music.
Before writing songs and playing piano in high school, Harford had been playing guitar for a while, knowing that music would remain a large part of his life. He hopes to pursue music full time, already releasing songs on streaming platforms and performing his newest song, “Amherst Skies” live with the band.
“[The band] feels like the most valuable part of learning more about being a musician,” Harford said.
To him, performing and practicing with the band has been just as valuable as his formal education.
Aposotolou plays guitar and classical bass. He began playing in bands in fifth grade and quickly found the power of pouring his passion into playing live music. Even though he is the only non-music major in the band — he is currently on the pre-med track — Apostolou still hopes to pursue music, and live his “doctor by day, rock star by night” lifestyle. After all, it is something that he’s loved since the womb.
“They say that if you’re upside down in the womb to play music to get the kid to change positions and when she did, I literally started to make music in my mom’s stomach,” he said, laughing.
Conte is the band’s drummer and someone whom all the boys characterize as one of the most talented people they have ever met. Apart from playing bass, he has been playing drums for as long as he can remember, a picture of a young Conte behind the drum set looking tiny in comparison. Conte wrote, produced and released music alongside Harford this summer. Harford said Conte was a fantastic collaborator in the studio. But, Conte finds that he prefers sitting behind the drums rather than in the producer’s chair, he said.
“I like playing live music more,” he said when choosing between producing or playing live. “I played in a band in high school and we were gigging every weekend, which is what we ultimately want to end up doing.”
Moore, the eldest of the group, has been making and releasing his own music for six years. He writes, produces and plays piano, guitar and drums. He has gained quite the following on TikTok and is the powerful voice carrying the band through its sets.
Through all their little musical beginnings, they all ended up together, jamming out and practicing two to three times a week in Parsons, looking to the future for how they will make it all work.
With Harford, Moore and Conte graduating in spring 2023, the band tries to not think too far ahead and focuses on its present goals of getting better equipment for shows, writing more original music and booking as many gigs as possible.
“I think our plan is to see how far we can get by the end of this school year,” Harford said. “And then take it from there.”
As for the time being, the boys will keep pouring themselves into their music, finding laughter and friendship in each other as bandmates, going to the local restaurant Continental on Grove Avenue before a gig and seeing what is next for the boys of Dogpark.
Contact managing co-editor Westen Doran at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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