Playing music professionally is a challenging occupation for most who choose to do it.
As students at Texas Tech, the members of Downtown City Radio balance schoolwork while playing professional gigs, like the one they played with Trapt on Wednesday at Jake’s Sports Café and Backroom.
Downtown City Radio developed through a mutual friend they had, Dalton Cooper, a senior agriculture economics major from Conroe and lead guitarist for the band, said.
They started jamming together and it developed into Downtown City Radio, Brady Sharp, a junior English major from Borger and drummer in the band, said.
Sampson Ma, a senior psychology major from Houston and vocalist for the band, helped develop the sound of the band because of the skeleton songwriting he has done.
“I love punk-pop music and so since I do a lot of the skeleton song writing, they kind of come out as punk-pop songs,” Ma said.
Ma and Sharp were the ones who were the most familiar with the genre, Ma said. But, Cooper and their bass player, Travis Christopher, a sophomore civil engineering major from Los Angeles, California, were not raised on that kind of music.
“Travis (Christopher) and I are kind of different,” Cooper said. “I grew up on country music but I hated it. The first rock songs I heard were Headstrong by Trapt and Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day. That got me going. It took me a while to get to pop-punk but once I started playing with Sampson, you just kind of take to it.”
Sharp describes the band’s sound as progressive pop-punk, he said. It combines what people love about pop-punk and its heyday with a little R&B sprinkled in there.
Ma is one of the main songwriters in the band. Ma said he is inspired by different things that are going on like major life decisions or different current events.
“Things that are going on usually inspires me,” Ma said. “Strong things like breaking up with a girlfriend or somebody getting elected, anything like that will usually trigger me to write something.”
Ma writes the lyrics and then the music comes next, he said. They usually add bass and drums. The lead guitar is the last part of the songs that is added.
Downtown City Radio has been performing for about a year now. Sharp said during that year, the band has performed in 30 or 40 shows and only doing a few of those shows out of town.
To get the amount of shows the band has gotten, one must reach out to a promoter, Cooper said. For the Trapt show, it was no different.
“For the Trapt show, they had all the bands in the lineup except one (to be announced act),” Cooper said. “(To be announced) means a local band that hasn’t been picked yet will play. I contacted (the promoter) and told them we were interested in opening the show. They got back to us about a week later and negotiated the terms about ticket sales and they told us we were on the show.”
Sharp said these shows help get the band’s name out there. After two or three solid shows with a certain promoter, they will start looking to the band to open different shows.
Opening for a band like Trapt is a lot of exposure for Downtown City Radio, Sharp said. They hope with any show; they draw people into their band by their performance.
“We are a very interactive band and that it our job opening for a band like Trapt,” Sharp said. “Bands in Lubbock are a lot heavier than we are so if we are not drawing people in with our stage presence, people won’t be into it. It’s a big selling point for us.”
Cooper said the energy is what makes them stand out among other bands.
“We don’t stand in a six-inch square and play our instruments with our heads bobbing up and down,” Cooper said. “We are jumping around. I jump off the stage like a moron.”
Downtown City Radio hopes to see a spike in their listens on their Spotify page after this show with Trapt, Cooper said. They also want more people to interact with them on their social media pages.
They hope to put together a mini tour during the spring semester to play more shows outside of the Lubbock area, Cooper said.
Sharp said his dream venue to play at is the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in Houston.
“Houston is the biggest city in Texas,” Sharp said, “and that is where all the big shows are.”
Downtown City Radio’s album Hazy Nights is available on Spotify and ITunes.