By JESSICA A. BOTELHO
While four of the five members of the Jessica Prouty Band aren’t old enough to legally enjoy a cocktail, they’re finally able to play at clubs after spending the last five years performing throughout the northeast at family-friendly events, such as theaters, fairs, school programs and charity gatherings.
“Those were great experiences, so we’ve really been able to enjoy the whole spectrum of entertainment,” said the band’s namesake, lead vocalist and bassist, Jessica Prouty, 18.
This winter, the Boston-based rock band plans to hit the studio to begin recording a fourth album. At the moment, they’re working on arranging music to lyrics Prouty has written, plus juggling the responsibility of being college students, as Prouty, along with the band’s two guitarists and backup vocalists, Cody Nilsen, 19, and Aaron Shuman, 22, are studying at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.
“It definitely is difficult, but we’re planning regular weekly practices over at the Berklee Fordham facility, and we’re really putting the band right up there in priority with our schoolwork,” said Prouty, who is majoring in music business. Nilsen is studying professional music, while Shuman has taken up contemporary writing and production.
“It’s helped us musically, too. I didn’t have a strong music theory background walking into Berklee and after my first year I’ve learned so much.”
They hope to apply what they’ve learned to their new album, which will be produced by Brian Maes, who fronts his own band, as well as performs with Ernie and the Automatics as lead vocalist and keyboardist. Prouty met Maes before she formed her band at a summer garage band camp he operated.
After camp, Maes contacted her and praised her original recordings, some of which she composed on her own, and others she wrote with her former band, Undecided Youth.
“He said, ‘Wow, you have some really good songs,’” said Prouty.
Maes then asked her if she would consider using his local studio to record an album under his record label, Briola Records. She discussed it with her parents and took him up in his offer.
“At that point, we started making a CD,” she said. “I didn’t want session players – I really wanted to have a band because I missed it so much.”
From there, she asked fellow camper and keyboardist, Andy Covino, 17, to join her. She also approached a few former members of Undecided Youth, including drummer Cam Pelkey, 19, who has been friends with Prouty since third grade.
Pelkey jumped at the chance and hasn’t looked back.
“Just being able to talk music and spend time with these guys has been the best experience of my life,” he said.
Shuman, the newest band member, who joined in May, agrees. Prouty met him in a shared course at Berklee.
“I love playing out and hanging out with these guys,” he said. “We get a lot of playing time, which I love. It’s everything a musician could want.”
The addition of a second guitarist, Prouty said, has enriched the band beyond her
expectations. The rest of the band concurs.
“It’s brought such a full sound to the whole project,” she said. “We can do so much more now.”
Through the course of their career, the band has won several battle of the band competitions. A few of the most notable include the 2012 Ryan J. Lariviere Battle of the Bands event, where they earned several prizes, as well as the honor of playing at the New England Music Awards at the Lowell Auditorium in Massachusetts this April, plus funding to record their album.
Additionally, they won second place in the NAMM-sponsored nationwide SchoolJamUSA contest in California at Downtown Disney. There, Prouty received the title of “Best Vocalist,” while Pelkey earned the title of “Best Drummer.”
Further, they were named “Band of the Year” at the 2012 Limelight Music Awards, along with runner up for “Best Live Act” and “Best Female Vocalist.” They performed at the event as well.
“That was so much fun,” Prouty said. “It was a cool experience. We have the awards hanging up at home.”
Aside from all their accolades, their original songs have been played on multiple radio stations, such as Boston’s 92.5 The River, WFNX, WAAF, WATD, Pixy 103, WBRU, Cool 102, WTOS, and 106.3 The Bone.
They hope their new album will garnish them with more airplay, but for now they are focusing on completing the music.
“Cody and I are working on the bare bones of a song and then the rest of the band will finish the piece,” Prouty said. “I think that’s how it’s going to work for the rest of the songs, as well. It’s been going really cool so far.”
To learn more about the band, visit jessicaprouty.com.