What happens when you bring together a singer from Alberta, Canada, a drummer from Havana, Ill., and a guitarist from Chicago? For three Bradley students, it created the punk rock band Swimming with Sharks.
Since January, junior Logan Wheaton, senior Adam Opp, and junior Harland Reid have been busy writing and producing original songs in their recording studio at Wheaton’s house, aptly named “The Shark Tank.”
Their eponymous album features six tracks with a unique take on the punk rock genre. “We describe it as Classic Punk … It’s constantly changing because we all have a lot of different influences,” said Opp, the band’s drummer.
Reid describes their sound as “the cool middle-ground sound between genres,” found in tracks like “No One” or “Twisted by Design.” With strong guitar riffs and intense vocals, the band’s numerous influences shine through, from heavy metal to more alternative punk bands like Arctic Monkeys or Blink 182.
The band members agree their original song “Sarah,” co-written by all three, is their favorite. Originally intended as a jibe at pop-punk songs, but it became a highlight of their first performance.
“We got asked to do an encore,” said Wheaton. “We had barely scrounged together the five-song set list. We thought, ‘Let’s just do the joke song.’”
The audience’s reaction soon changed their opinions. “People kept coming up to us after (and) saying how they liked it,” said Opp. “So, I guess it’s not the joke song anymore.”
The band has kept playing live shows since. They’ve performed in neighborhoods and bars around Bradley, been featured on 99.9 WWCT and were part of Phil Fest, a philanthropy festival coordinated by the university’s Greek Life.
For now, their focus has shifted from making EPs, to releasing songs individually. They believe this will help them stay in their fans’ minds better. “Not everybody is going to want to listen to your 30-minute long song list,” said Wheaton.
After Bradley, Wheaton, Reid and Opp all hope to pursue music. Both Opp and Wheaton are music entertainment majors, and Reid majors in graphic design. Their experiences inside the classroom have helped them learn to function as a serious band, and they plan to continue producing music that improves with every note. The first thing on their to-do list is to top the debut album.
“I don’t think any band would say their first work is anything special compared to what they would go on to do later.” Wheaton said. “I think we have a lot more potential as songwriters.”
As they expand their musical horizons beyond their current repertoire, exploring more facets of the punk rock genre is also on their minds.
“This album was really just a way of feeling each other out, and trying to figure out what our specific sound is,” said Reid. “… Even though we’ve been together as a band for a while, we can finally sharpen and polish the music and put those nice little touches on it that makes it ours.”
— Matthew Johnson ’20