By Carlie Fiorentini
CCC Journalism Program
Singer Ryan Bleaken and his band LaterCity have won Philadelphia University’s battle of the bands for the second year in a row.
This year’s show required the band to give it everything they had because the competition was fiercer than ever. More bands competed this year than any other year to date. Bleaken said that this victory meant the most to him and his band because of the challenge they were up against.
“We really didn’t think it was going to be as big as it was. We only practiced our set twice, and that was last night until like 3 a.m.,” said Bleaken. With only two practice sessions before the competition, either luck was on their side or they just genuinely work well together.
Bleaken comes from a musical family. “My dad plays guitar and my sister plays piano. I remember I got into music in fourth grade when I would just put my dad’s guitar on my lap and strum it. It never sounded right but I have been in love with it since then.”
After his mother noticed her son’s talent, she signed him up for their church’s choir, where he got his first vocal solo. Apart from singing, Bleaken also taught himself a whole array of instruments such as piano, guitar, bass and the drums; basically, anything he can get his hands on.
His band LaterCity formed in his freshman year of high school, nearly six years ago. “It’s actually a funny story. Dan (the drummer) was dating one of my friends and I always used to make faces behind his back. Sooner or later after they broke up and I started talking to him I found out that he and a few other kids jammed after school and he asked if I could join. Makes me regret the whole making-faces thing but we laugh about it now.”
After hanging out and playing music together, Bleaken and his friends shared their music with the world as LaterCity. Soon after their myspace page was up, so were the dates of their first few shows. “I used to be embarrassed to sing in front of people,” Bleaken said, “but now I just can’t get enough of it.”
What started out as an after-school activity has now become a major part of Bleaken’s life. He said they continue to book more shows and more competitions but will never forget their victory at Philadelphia University.