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The Camaraderie of The New Connection.

August 30, 2011

Text and images by Brandee Nichols.

The New Connection originally began as a three-piece band formed by a group of high school friends – Gerald Busz, Todd Mecaughey and Michael Winkler. Then Winkler moved to China, the others ran off to different colleges and the band sort of fizzled, temporarily.

Four years later, when Mecaughey was an audio engineering student at Drexel, he met classmate Alex Baranowski. They needed a senior project, so they revived the old band, previously known simply as The Connection.

They called Busz, who was attending West Chester University, to see if he’d be up for using their old songs for something new.

A fellow Drexel student, Rory Geoghegan approached his friends about joing the band.

“I was like, ‘Hey, do you need a guitar player?’” he remembers asking. “And they were like, ‘No, we’re gonna be a three-piece. Sorry.”

A few weeks into the project, however, the trio realized they needed Geoghegan on guitar. Matt Sommer, who was then acting as the band’s manager and promoter, was later brought in for the necessary layer of keys.

It wasn’t until another Drexel friend asked them to play at Millcreek Tavern that they gave themselves a name.

“We were The Connection,” Mecaughey recalls, “but now it’s a new thing. So, The New Connection. We needed a name for our first show.”

They draw influences from well-known bands like The Beatles, Minus the Bear, Queen, The Clash and Bob Marley & the Wailers. They bring together the best parts of lesser-known bands, like Paulson and The Hush Sound, while aspiring to be as good as indie rock harmonizing geniuses Local Natives.

“I think a lot of people don’t achieve that level of amazingness,” Busz adds passionately. “We are influenced by them big time.”

The New Connection almost reluctantly refer to their music as progressive pop rock, though there are definitely hints of reggae and other genres.

“People can branch off from rock and go so many different ways,” Busz simply states. “But rock is a term that everyone can latch onto.”

What was reborn as a senior project evolved into their well-received first album, Mentally-Physically, in 2007.

Without the stress of studying or doing homework, The New Connection successfully tweaked and tuned their sound into a significantly more mature progression. The band celebrated the release of their self-titled follow-up album last May with a show at Johnny Brenda’s.

“In a way, our new record is kind of like our first record because Mentally-Physically was a student project,” Geoghegan says.

They spent the summer promoting the new album, playing concerts and festivals, including stops in the East Village and Maine.

Even after performing away from the city, they are loyal to the Philly scene.

“There’s a reason why people have recognized Philadelphia as a great music scene,” Busz says. “There’s a lot more camaraderie, and I think it has to do with the Phillies. I’m not even bullshitting. It’s going to hit a peak when the Phillies win the World Series this year. If they don’t, I’m going to kill myself.”

Baranowski joins in on the joke by adding, “So, if anybody can sing, send your stuff to The New Connection …”

“ReplaceGeraldBusz.com,” Sommer sarcastically adds.

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