Aquarium Dives into Live Shows, Music Industry


Photo by William Gangnath

Aquarium is made of RHS students and alumni and works to build a following by playing shows both locally and in other counties.

Esther Frances, Print Copy Editor

From the living room to the spotlight, student-created bands have been taking center stage as they book gigs in the area and gain local followers. These students not only need to keep a presence on stage, but also in school life, as they balance schoolwork with concerts.

A band fairly new to the scene is Aquarium, comprised of senior Isaac Higgins on guitar, junior Matthew Pitman on drums, senior Franco Ferruzo on bass and Chris Guandique (‘17) on lead vocals.

Guandique, Higgins and Pitman formed the group in May 2017 with a different bass player. After needing a new bassist for a gig in June of that year, Ferruzo officially joined the band as the fourth member. The name Aquarium was created shortly before their first album “Aquarium” came out on the online music streaming website Band Camp in May 2018.

“I found a painting that reminded me of an aquarium,” Pitman said. “I thought, ‘This looks like our band,’ and so it became our name.”

At least once a week, the band writes music for upcoming releases and rehearses their future sets. Their writing process consists of starting with a riff or a chord progression and steadily building more instruments on top through trial and error, Pitman said.

“I’m usually the last one [to rehearsal], which is unintentional,” Higgins laughed. “We don’t force the song if we’re not really feeling it, so if we’re writing we just jam on an idea and everyone adds in.”

Bach to Rock is a music school in Bethesda working to promote having fun with music education and establishing the importance of playing music in high school. The name of the school was created based on students’ wide variety of musical interests, from classical to rock.

The most important thing that students take away from playing in a band though, has to be gaining a level of self-confidence that was not there before,” Bach to Rock assistant director Kyle Finch said. “It teaches the students about working together not only with the songs they’re playing but also on managing schedules for an upcoming performance and even just scheduling the rehearsals to begin with.”

Bach to Rock strongly encourages their students to participate in the annual Battle of the Bands, a music competition with the grand prize of recording time in the Bach to Rock studio with a professional audio engineer.

“We reach out as the school to local businesses and community event coordinators specifically to get our students performing,” Finch said. “If someone is passionate about music, they should figure out what part of it they love the most, and go for it.”

While Aquarium has not played the Battle of the Bands, they are playing regular gigs and staying in touch with fans through social media.  They use Instagram in order to promote their fanbase and help to attract listeners to their gigs. They also acquired the help of RHS band Bad Time to help schedule shows, such as their first one. In the future, Aquarium looks to expand their following and possibly continue after Higgins graduates.

“If this takes off, that’s great,” Higgins said, “but we’re just seeing how this goes.”