By Alexander Nixon, Managing Arts Editor
On February 1, 2013 a BC alumnus may have taken the first steps towards enshrining Brooklyn College as a breeding ground for Rockstars.
“Like taking a bunch of total strangers [waiting] at a bus stop and forming a band with them” is the best description aspiring rockstar, front man, and former BC English Literature and Fine Arts double-major Victor Voccoli Gurbo has heard to describe his band.
The multigenerational sextet Victor Gurbo & Company breaks the mold established by other NYC millennial indie rockers (i.e. Interpol), who emerged from the post-9-11 malaise with a Men in Black mod look. In contrast, Gurbo’s band lets its freak flag fly. Their freewheeling style and sound harken back to the 60s of Bob Dylan and the Stones.
The band’s fun and tremendously catchy single “Burnin’ Your Manor Down” is a swirling dark carnival of blues and gypsy jazz. The main attraction is a violin that slithers around Gurbo’s bluesy lead vocals, as well as a boisterous rhythm section bubbling, banging, and bee-bopping in the background with all the fanfare of a marching band.
Then there’s Gurbo, whose motley crüe of capable supporting stars reinforce his non-elitist, “everyman” stage presence.
One of Gurbo’s band-mates is none other than BC Professor Arnold Brooks, whose piece titled 60×60 Voice Mix premiered at the Sound Art Festival in Berlin last year and will be performed on Tuesday, February 26 at Texas State University. Gurbo recalls meeting Brooks during the undergraduate’s Sophomore year. “I walked into the print lab and it sounded like the gates of hell had opened,” Gurbo said about his first time hearing Brooks’ soundscapes.
The teacher-student rapport established that year led to Gurbo and Brooks forming Victor Gurbo & Co. in 2007. Brooks, the internationally celebrated scholar, now plays drums in the band. Gurbo said, “It took a bit of convincing, but [Brooks] came down to play and never left.”
It’s a good thing he didn’t.
In January 2013 their collaboration bore fruit when NPR’s John Shafer announced Victor Gurbo & Co. had been selected to headline fourteen other Brooklyn bands competing in the annual Brooklyn Battle of the Bands at NPR’s Green Room.
It turns out John Shafer is a big Beatles fan. The opening lines of the song Gurbo submitted to the contest, the aforementioned “Burnin’ Your Manor Down,” begins with a direct quote from the White Album. But the fact that concert goers voted via text for Victor Gurbo & Co. can dispel any question about bias.
The fact of the matter is that Gurbo and Brooks have brought together all the right ingredients to produce a fresh and original sound, chief among these ingredients is, of course, a degree from Brooklyn College.
Victor Gurbo & Co. will peform this Thursday, February 28 at Jalopy, located in Caroll Gardens.