The band is on NBC's online competition 'Star Tomorrow.'
By JOHN BENSON
There's a rising star coming out of Mahoning County and its named Another Found Self.
"It's a really good time for us," said singer Julian Smith. "It' really exciting right now so we're just taking it all in. We're playing shows, meeting fans and we're writing more songs because it really comes down to our music, that's why we do it."
In a little more than six months, this Youngstown-based emo rock act -- Smith, Mark Catalano (guitar), Nicholas Sainato (drums), Dom Devin (guitar) and Aric Allen (bass) -- continues to make impressive inroads in the ever fickle and tricky music industry.
In short order, the quintet won the 2006 Mountain Dew MDX High School Rock Off in Cleveland, opened for a sold out Say Anything show at the Grog Shop in Cleveland, played a few shows in Los Angeles for music industry execs and on its own toured parts of the East Coast and Midwest.
Next came an amazing experience opening for Panic! at the Disco at a sold out Plain Dealer Pavilion show in front of 6,000 kids. Smith noted that this was the only date on Panic! at the Disco's tour that featured a local opening act.
From there, the band traveled to New York City to audition for the NBC-TV online music competition "Star Tomorrow."
"They loved us and sent us out to Los Angeles where we filmed all of our spots for the show," Smith said. "It's very much like 'American Idol' except it's based more on original talent. They want acts that can write. They want acts that can perform."
However, unlike "American Idol," where artists perform live, "Star Tomorrow" officials had Another Found Self pre-tape four songs -- two covers (The Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman" and Tommy James & amp; the Shondells' "I Think We're Alone Now & quot;) and two originals ("Coattails" and "Fubar") -- with executives deciding which track gets played in each round the band remains eligible.
"We were proud of the way they turned out," Smith said.
So far Another Found Self won its first round battle and is waiting to see which act it goes up against next. Fans can keep track by logging on and voting at www.startomorrow.com. The winner of the competition receives a developmental deal with Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster. Even though the debut episode aired July 31 on a national NBC-TV special with 10 million viewers tuning in, the rest of the competition will be on the Web through the end of the month.
"Definitely vote for us on 'Star Tomorrow' and check us out but at the same time, come out and see us live because that's what it's about," Smith said. The band's next hometown date is Sept. 22 at the Stomping Grounds in Austintown. Actually, this is the kickoff show to the group's upcoming East Coast tour.
As if the group hasn't enjoyed enough good fortune of late, Another Found Self took home another battle of the bands win last week at Guitar Center's Project Rock Star event at the House of Blues in Cleveland. The outfit walked away with $500 cash, a $1,500 shopping spree at Guitar Center, recording time at Lava Room Recording Studios, a meeting with a major record label and various opening gigs (Blossom Music Center, the House of Blues and an upcoming "K Rock" WXRK-FM 92.3 show).
The famous quote "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity" comes to mind when considering Another Found Self's amazing run of success.
"We feel like we are going places," said 18-year-old Allen. "We have a lot of faith in our music."
Granted, 15 minutes of fame is one thing, but this band has continuously risen above its peers. More importantly, it's also putting itself out there, booking shows, writing more music and attempting to stay grounded on what is nothing short of one amazing rocket ride that finds all of the recent high school grads putting off college for an education in Rock 'n' Roll 101.
That is except for 17-year-old Devin, who is supposed to be a Boardman High School senior this year but has decided to get his diploma via online classes.
"We're all kind of putting off school at this point, which is fine," Smith said. "Our parents are really cool with it. We're just going to focus on this band because we really believe in it."
Up next for the outfit is its full-length debut. With or without a recording contract, the five-piece is going to spend the winter writing in hopes of a summer release date. Optimism runs high for a few Vans Warped Tour dates next summer.
As for now, the sky appears to be the limit for Another Found Self.
"Hopefully, we take over the world," Allen said. "That's our plan."