By Chelsie Derman
Arts & Entertainment Editor
From trumpeters to guitarists, the two-member band Paid Vacation is just starting to embark on a new journey in their lives — making original music.
The band Paid Vacation formed last December, in the midst of the pandemic, and the members consist of recent graduate Ian Waldman (‘20) and senior James Mikula (‘21). Both attended the College as music education majors.
“I recently sent James a recording of something I was learning,” Waldman said. “I had just figured something out on a guitar and I sent it to James and said, ‘what do you think?’ And all the sudden he was giving me ideas to build off of it and whatnot, and so we were just focussing on this one song.” From there, the two started “snowballing” music ideas back and forth, according to Waldman.
Waldman claimed Mikula was the better guitarist, so Waldman would record some notes, send them over to Mikula, and Mikula would then record the notes back to him so he could hear the music without mistakes. “And so all the sudden we had really rough, rough demos and we just kept building on them,” Waldman said. “Now we have ten songs, almost done, and we’re hoping on getting them recorded really soon.”
The band had a lot of collaboration in the early stages of creating music. The two guided each other, constantly asking for the other’s opinion about the music.
“Yeah, there’s just a lot of audio files,” Mikula said. “Like we said, back and forth sending ‘what can I do better? What do you think about this? What can I add? What should I take away?’ And then I remember there was one time where Ian said to me: ‘You want to do this? You want to do a band?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah. Hell yeah.’”
While Waldman and Mikula don’t have a set genre for their band, they classify their music as typically falling under the categories of indie and alternative rock, with remnant sounds of classic rock.
Both Waldman and Mikula got into the College for playing the trumpet, an instrument they each had to play for school. However, in their free time Mikula plays both acoustic and electric guitar, as well as a little bit of keyboard. Waldman sings, plays acoustic guitar, knows some keyboard and writes a lot of the music.
“(I’m) more of the rhythm player,” Waldman said. “(James is) more of the lead guitar.”
Waldman and Mikula are currently working on their own music. They have ten songs already and only three of them still need lyrics.
“We have about five and half pretty much done, demo wise,” Waldman said. “So we are going to get professionally recorded eventually, but we have five and half demos just sitting there, ready to be recorded.”
On Paid Vacation’s Instagram account, they already posted snippets of some of their songs — a little “teasing,” according to Waldman. Waldman and Mikula are hoping to record a single by April or May at the latest. Although nothing is “set in stone,” as Waldman pointed out, they hope that if things go to plan they should have the whole album recorded by summer — ideally, in July. However, with the pandemic, it is unclear when the two can get together.
Waldman and Mikula are excited to continue doing what they love: making music. No matter how the album turns out, they will keep their passion alive.
“(We) just want to put out good music for people to enjoy and listen to, whether that be driving in a car or walking down the street or just listening at home,” Waldman said.
The band certainly has not slowed down during the pandemic. While most of their meetup sessions had taken place via Facetime, they also (safely) met up a couple of times in person.
However, even with most of the sessions online, things have been going smoothly for the band. With their frequent communication, Waldman and Mikula can effectively collaborate on their music together, sending music recordings back and forth so they can add it to the mix.
Waldman described the mix-creating experience as “putting together pieces.” With all the separate recordings, they combine everything to create the final mix.
“So it’s kind of like making Frankeinstein’s monster here and putting together pieces. It’s eventually going to be alive,” Waldman said.
The backstory of the name of the band — Paid Vacation — sums up the band’s main goal moving forward, other than to just bring joy to others via their music. Waldman and Mikula had kept a list of random words in a notebook and jotted down anything they would see around them.
“And then I was listening to the song ‘Congratulations’ by MGMT, and they have this line, ‘It’s not a paid vacation,’ and I kind of just liked the sound (of) ‘paid vacation’ because I’m currently teaching,” Waldman said. “It was kind of the idea that, if this were to take off, we would theoretically be on one long paid vacation from teaching because we’d be in a dream world, be touring and making lots of money doing that. So I thought it was a nice little touch to reflect what our career paths are currently.”
Waldman and Mikula are just following their passion, and no matter what happens, they will never stop making music.