It’s concert night. The fans have already paid for their $40 front row tickets and are prepared for the band. The lights dim, and the drummer fires off the nastiest solo you could imagine. The crowd cheers and begins head-banging along. The lead guitarist’s fingers fly as the strings sing musical bliss into the amplifier. The bass player—calmer than the rest of the band, but essential to the sound—is strumming along.

Then, it all goes to hell. Everyone at once is playing at the speed of light and the crowd loves it.

But there’s one problem: it’s 1984, and one local band wants the energy back in 2019. They are Curse of Consciousness, and they demand the spotlight.

The band consists of five players: lead singer and rhythm guitarist Caden Kratsch (sophomore), lead guitarist Matthew Messina (junior), bassist Alex Davenport (sophomore), keyboardist Ben Rodriguez (junior), and drummer Joe Messina (freshman).

“My brother Matt [is] who came up with the name, and it’s just the curse of being alive, you’re cursed with consciousness,” Joe Messina says regarding the band’s unique name.

What kind of music do they play? “Psychedelic thrash metal and classic rock,” Davenport and Joe Messina say. “A lot of it is just aggression [toward] anything and everything,” Alex says.

But everyone has to start somewhere.

“In 6th grade, I would always listen to the same eight songs,” Joe Messina says. “It was all Coldplay, and…it was garbage. And then my brother was like, ‘I need you to listen to this song.’ It was Nirvana, and then I listened to it, and I was like, ‘Dude. I wanna be THIS dude…’ at first, I wanted to be in front, playing guitar and singing and stuff, and I realized that I couldn’t do that at all, so I was like, drums it is, and from there it was just a gateway to all rock and heavy metal.”

“From there, it was just a gateway to all rock and heavy metal.”

– Joe Messina

Davenport has a similar story: “When I was in sixth grade… I listened to… crap like Fetty Wap… and all that garbage that was cool a few years ago, but now [it] makes you hate yourself… then I met Devon and he would always be listening to [bands like] Blink-182 and Green Day… and I was just like, ‘Eh, that’s cool.’ But then it got to the point where every time I would go [to his house], he would be playing guitar and I would be like, ‘Wow, I feel left out.’ Then it got to the point where I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

Matt remembers back to his starting days: “[I remember] Joey got his old acoustic guitar out from when he was five, and I tuned it for him, started playing some Nirvana song, and I was like, ‘I need to play guitar.’”

That’s how it all started.

But the group hasn’t always been friends and bandmates: they found each other through music.

“I met Matt… in autos class last year, and I heard him talking about ‘Tornado of Souls’ by Megadeth and I was like, ‘Yo, Tornado of Souls, thats cool, and I play bass!’ And Matt was like, ‘Yeah we should jam sometime!’” Davenport says. “I came to [Joe’s house] and he came down and started playing drums, way before any of us knew anything about music… a year later I saw him at a local show… and he was like, ‘We need a bass player,’ and I was like, ‘I’m a bass player!’”

And just like that, C.O.C began paving their road to stardom.

Reviving a dying-out genre of music will be hard in 2019, and even harder for the people leading it.

“It doesn’t take a genius to understand that a band requires hard work and dedication.”

– Matt Messina

“It’s frustrating, definitely, but when we do get a lot done, it’s definitely fun… it takes a lot of synchronizing. We all need to be on the same page,” Matt says. “It doesn’t take a genius to understand that a band requires hard work and dedication. When I started, I would come home and play after school until it turned dark… I wouldn’t eat anything.” Matt gives some advice for growing guitarists. “Play your scales, play your chords. The best advice is to practice.”

And all bands, regardless of genre want a share in the spotlight. So how is C.O.C different?

“I’d say that all the bands around here locally – it’s all punk rock. And us being a heavy metal and psychedelic rock, it’s different from everyone else… we have a keyboard player: no one does that cause [everyone else] is just three-chord punk rock, [which is] mediocre,” Joe says.

But local punk bands aren’t the only obstacle the guys are going to have to face. The ever-evolving rap and hip-hop pop industry is booming, and shows no signs of stopping. It’s a pretty big and controversial topic, and Joe, Alex, and Matt all had something to agree on: “Pop sucks. Rap sucks. If you listen to that: don’t.”

“Do what YOU want to do. Be different.”

– Alex Davenport

Finally, I asked the guys what they would want if the band took off: “I’d say for me, it would be to try and influence people, have them do their own thing. I know a lot of people that only want people to… do what everyone else does, and be like, ‘If I do this, people will listen to me.’ Don’t do that. If you are trying to sound like another band, [the fans] will be like, ‘why should I listen to this band when this one is better?’ Stake out. Do what YOU want to do. Be different. I want people to acknowledge that. They can do whatever they want,” Alex says.

Joe, Matt, Alex, Caden and Ben all deserve a chance in the big leagues. Go check out their next show June 14th at the 105 on 231 S Washington Street, Naperville. Doors open at 6:30 and the fee is $5. They’d love to see you there.

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