Joel Mariano is Underwater Track Team's primary guitar player. He makes that distinction because the band is a musical collective of sorts. The members play a little bit of everything, often switching instruments between songs.
Musically, they create up-tempo indie-folk the kind of music that's made for sing-alongs. The band plays Wednesday at the Victory Cafe at the Hardy's theatre in downtown Fresno. The Bee talked to Mariano to learn more about the band.
First, for the basics: How long has the band been together and how did it form?
We became a band a little over a year ago. Originally, the band consisted of Emily (Hitch), Devynn (Braswell) and me. We sang in high school choir together and became really close. It wasn't until the end of my freshman year of college that the thought of starting a band really began to take shape.
Our first gig offer was from my brother, Josiah, who was putting together a party where all of his friends would cut off his dreadlocks. We knew we would need a bass player for the gig, so I decided to call up my good friend and fellow music major from Fresno State, Luffy Bailey.
The more we began to expand as a band, the more we found it necessary to add more pieces to it. Josiah was already doing his own independent songwriting and he often opened for us at shows. A lot of songs were designed for a full-band setting, so it's made perfect sense that he jumped on the team. I played in a band with John Wilson, before the Team, and I knew his energy would be perfect for this band.
Underwater Track Team is one of the best band names in local music. Where'd it come from?
I suggested Underwater Track Team because I thought it would justify taking a band picture at the bottom of a pool. There's no profound meaning behind it, really. It was merely the product of my strange fixation on aquatic sports photography. Our hope was that our name would catch people off guard. We knew that people would have a difficult time figuring out what we sound like based on our band name, thus forcing them to watch us live.
There's a lot of layering in what you do in instrumentation (guitars/ukulele/accordion), melodies, etc. Does the band work in collaboration?
I thoroughly enjoy having so many different creative minds to bounce ideas off of when songwriting. Most of our songs start out as small musical ideas introduced by one person. From there, the rest of the band begins to give input and expand on the idea that was introduced.
How would you describe your music?
We're very predicated on incorporating vocal harmony in our music. We were all choir kids before we were in this band, and we've definitely developed a good ear for it growing up.
Although we strive to produce music that's catchy and singable, our main focus is to write songs that are lyrically substantial. As a band, we try to make music that gives our listeners something to chew on. If we're not communicating and making a connection with people when we play, we're just making noise.
Know a local musician or band more people should be familiar with? Send details to Joshua Tehee, email@example.com or @joshuatehee on Twitter.