Student Spotlight: Climax Race

Untitled-5Any students hanging out at Brighton Bar on Saturday night had the opportunity to see Cli­max Race rock out with their guitarist Mike Baranowski. The senior has been playing with his band for the last couple years and has been playing guitar for 12 years. We got the opportu­nity to chat with Baranowski about his passion for music.

“I owe it to my parents for my love of music. They introduced me to their music and I took it from there,” Baranowski said. “I first got into music when I was about 11 years old. The first band I fell in love with [was] the band AC/DC. My dad put on a their album Back In Black, and I instantly felt like rock and roll was calling me to join ‘cause I’ve been missing out.”

Baranowski cited 60s and 70s rock staples like The Doors, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles as his influences. Baranowski explained, “I felt like these art­ists were more than just making music. I felt that I could identify with their music and the culture they expressed. By age 14, I was completely in love with music. I was listening to a wide variety of artists from BB King to Nine Inch Nails.”

The Brick native was specifi­cally influenced by Led Zeppe­lin’s Jimmy Page’s guitar prow­ess. “The rock riffs Jimmy Page created just thoroughly ap­pealed to me during my begin­ning stages as a guitar player,” Baranowski said.

Baranowski has been dedicat­ed to his guitar skills. He took three years of lessons when he first started and continued to learn from professionals at the University. Baranowski said he has taken three semesters of guitar lessons with professor [Aaron] Leone. His talents also extend to the piano and drums, instruments he taught himself to play.

“I like to improvise guitar so­los and riffs which is a key el­ement in blues and some rock music,” Baranowksi said. So it makes sense that Climax Race is an alternative progressive rock band.

The musician finds it hard to categorize Climax Race’s sound, however. Baranowski said, “We have a very unique sound in my opinion. The [other] guitar­ist (Taylor Calise) and I love to show off, so there is a lot of gui­tar solos in our music. We have a female lead singer (Kristina Marrufo). She has a very soul­ful sound to her voice. Some of us have similar influences and some of us don’t. … It’s where we meet in the middle that we discover the sound for Climax Race.”

Climax Race came together in 2011. They started out as a cover band, but Baranowski said, “Af­ter two or three months we de­cided to be an original band. We felt it would be a good way for us to go.”

Though the band has gone through some line-up changes since Climax Race’s concep­tion, Baranowski said that he is great friends with all of his band mates. Some of them even have friendships going back to high school. “I think it’s great that I have a band with my best friends,” Baranowski said.

In addition to guitarist Ba­ranowski, Climax Race includes Kristina Marrufo on vocals, Dan Barber on drums, Taylor Calise also on guitar and Dan Lyttle on bass.

They have played in local ven­ues such as The Saint, The Stone Pony and Brighton Bar, and they have even managed to score a few gigs in New York City. “We hope to get more shows in the city. We also have played Gradu­ation and Halloween parties. I think the most unusual place we played was at this super dome in Toms River, NJ. It was an autism awareness event. There wasn’t many people there, and it’s a big dome so 100 people didn’t even look like many,” the senior said.

At that particular autism awareness event, Climax Race was concerned that their name wouldn’t be family friendly. Ba­ranowski said, “We thought the parents might get offended by our band name because it can be taken in an obscene way. So we decided we should be introduced as ‘The Big C.’ … I just wanted to lighten the mood, I guess. I tend to be very silly sometimes, so I immediately said ‘The Big Cheese, we’re the Big Cheese.’ … It was kind of an awkward ex­perience.”

The music industry major likes his jokes, but he also loves his art. Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Radiohead are who Baranowski admires when it comes to song writing. “Jim Morrison [of The Doors] took certain things to the next level. I also loved how he incorporated poetry into music. When I first heard The Doors, I got a better sense of music as an art and that was completely in­fluential to me.”

Climax Race writes their own songs, a process that requires a lot of focus according to Ba­ranowski. “Some of the members of the band meet up and play our songs acoustically. In these types of acoustic sessions we’ve found to be a successful process for us. There are fewer distractions as opposed to when we’re practic­ing in the drummer’s basement and we’re all plugged into our amps,” Baranowski explained. According to Baranowski, the band “strives to keep [songwrit­ing] a collaborative process.”

The guitarist’s post-graduation plans definitely include music, even if he isn’t in the limelight. “I would like to work in the ar­eas of concert promotion or music licensing and publishing. I’m re­ally open to any field in the mu­sic industry because you have to start somewhere in the industry. … I guess time will tell. I’m just an avid music-lover who loves to perpetuate the art form in some fashion.”

For upcoming shows or to listen to their music, check out facebook. com/CLiMAXRACE, reverbna­tion.com/climaxrace, soundcloud. com/taylor-calise, or search ‘Cli­max Race’ on YouTube to relive the band’s past performances.

IMAGE TAKEN from facebook.com/ CLiMAXRACE