By Richard Chachowski
Dylan Lembo is a jack of all trades when it comes to musical instruments.
“I play a bunch of instruments,” Lembo said in an interview with The Signal. “I play guitar, bass, a little bit of piano, a pinch of banjo, sing a little — no wind instruments, though. I definitely prefer playing bass over all, as that is my instrument of choice to play live.”
A senior communications major and an international studies and philosophy double minor at the College, Lembo has long been interested in pursuing his musical passion by playing with close friends who share a similar enthusiasm for music. As Lembo put it, “music is a group activity.”
In the past, Lembo has played in a few bands during his high school and college years, and plans to continue playing with his friends in the future, including writing and recording original material with his band, Sport Coat, that he began with his close friends from high school.
The creative process of developing the band’s material has been a little slow due to the restrictions and complications Covid-19 has placed on in-person band practices, as well as the fact that each band member attends a different school.
“With Sport Coat, the demo process has been extremely slow and back breaking,” said Lembo. “I am finishing up my undergrad degree here at TCNJ and getting ready to go to law school next year; my co writer Taylor is finishing up his degree at Berklee School of Music up in Boston. My guitarist, Joey, just finished his degree at Monmouth University, and our drummer Mike has a full-time job as an electric lineman.”
However, he remains enthusiastic about Sport Coat’s future plans, including recording and releasing original demos that blend together indie rock, punk, and college alternative, a project that Lembo hopes to begin developing further come summer.
“I’ve got a few demos brewing with my buddy Taylor from home for our project Sport Coat (formerly known as GarageSale),” Lembo said. “Come summer we’ll be recording in his garage or something like that.”
Lembo’s interest in music began from a very early age. As he was growing up, he was introduced to music through his father, who was in a punk rock band in the 1980s, with music constantly playing in the background of his childhood.
Apart from his family, he also cited an early love for classic rock groups and songs, including such bands as the Clash, the Velvet Underground, the Pixies and the Rolling Stones, all of which he credits as having influenced his musical style in some way.
From there, his interest in music only grew, with Lembo joining a few bands throughout his high school years, a time in Lembo’s life he looks back on with fondness.
“Man, those were the days,” said Lembo. “My friends and I set up a circuit of house venues in Monmouth County, putting together four or five band bills, playing in backyards, basements, living rooms, and coffee shops. They usually had a pretty good turnout.”
When Lembo began attending the College in the fall of 2017, he joined the indie rock band Cheyenne Dan with fellow College classmates Jonah Malvey (‘20) and Colin Lawn (‘21). Together, they played in front of student crowds at the College, as well as at Rutgers University in New Brunswick and Rowan University in Glassboro.
The band’s performances, however, soon came to a halt as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With Covid-19 still impacting the music industry and effectively preventing live performances for the time being, Lembo and his bandmates have had some trouble scheduling in-person practices or meetings with one another. Regardless of the Covid-19 impact, Lembo still practices and records fairly often, not feeling a need to set a rigid schedule for himself due to the pandemic.
“Being that the pandemic has effectively made it impossible to practice or play out, there really hasn’t been a pressing motive to have set scheduled practices,” said Lembo. “I do not pigeonhole myself to a specific schedule when it comes to writing or recording. I do it when I feel inspired and that’s that.”
While the pandemic may have halted Lembo and his band’s live performances for the moment, Lembo himself continues to plan for his future, including his hopes to continue his musical career with his high school friends in Sport Coat.
“This project we started as 16-year-old high schoolers has been on the back burner for a little bit, but we’re all making an effort to breathe life into it,” Lembo said. “The matter of fact is that life often overrides the hobby we share and love — but we make time for it when we can.”
Following graduation in the spring, Lembo’s hope is that all of his band members will be able to spend a little more time writing and recording original material during the summer, without any time-consuming school work getting in the way.
“As soon as I move out of Ewing with my shiny diploma and get home, I’m gonna be a complete beach bum for the summer,” said Lembo. “And me and Taylor and hopefully the other lads will be able to get together, put our noses to the grindstone and crank out something awesome.”