By By Taylor Long
College friendships often become the beginning of great musical collaborations. One friendship that shows great musical promise is that of University students Daniel Gdula and Anthony Gerbino.
Gdula, 21, a senior film major, met Gerbino, 21, a senior marketing major, through his roommate sophomore year. Gdula says he was instantly impressed by Gerbino's musical inclination.
"I was surprised when I went up to his room and he played some of the stuff he made. I was completely blown away. I really didn't think that there were musicians like that on campus," he said.
Both Gdula and Gerbino had previous experience with music. Gdula sang and played keyboard in a band, The Rara Avis, in high school, and Gerbino took lessons in saxophone and piano for 10 years.
Gerbino's formal training combined with Gdula's organic experimentation has resulted in a compelling dynamic that comes through in their music. Gerbino possesses a pop sensibility that is unique, yet grounded, while Gdula likes to focus on experimentation.
"With Anthony, he's more of a mentor, but when I am in the room with instruments I feel like I'm a child, just wanting to bang something, to throw blood against the wall, just to create something," Gdula said. The two feel that this diversity of styles is something they wholly take advantage of.
"I believe that if we had two of the same kind of background, it wouldn't work. You need two different kinds of people," says Gerbino. "I could say I've never worked with someone that's as challenging-and I'm sure he can say the same thing," Gdula added.
Still, one thing they agree on is the importance of variety and unpredictability.
"It's always a new experience every time, and that's what's great about it, because if it weren't that, then it's not interesting, and when it's not interesting, it's going to be boring music," Gerbino said.
When the word "influences" comes up, a diverse array of band names are heard between the two-The Smiths, Animal Collective, Joy Division, Broken Social Scene, New Order, Depeche Mode. Not surprisingly, they prefer to describe their sound more creatively.
"It's like if Peter Gabriel's tour bus ran into Daft Punk's tour bus," Gdula says with a laugh.
Over their two years of collaboration, Gdula and Gerbino have produced over 40 songs, but haven't recorded an album, played a show or even solidified a band name (Treewolf is their working name). Part of the reason for this is the duo's absolute desire for perfecting their craft. Neither of these goals is far off, however. They plan to record a split with recent University graduate Cassidy Pignatello, and hope to make it to the stage within the next semester.
"I think it's important that we bring that to a live stage just to get people excited about the music, because I think it is good music and it deserves a stage," said Gerbino.
"Good music" is a bit of an understatement-the music is very good. Their sound is largely electronic and delicate, as heard in "Jaguar." Other songs, like "Daphne," show their ability to incorporate a forceful, driving guitar line. A taste for variation sits behind each composition-the cinematic, haunting melody "Please Don't Worry About Me" has little in common with the swirling pop of "Snowdan."
When it comes to inspiration, Gerbino says it's other music that serves as the best motivation. "If you have the ambition enough to make a track better than somebody else's, or a track better than your last song-that drive makes me want to keep pushing to the next, because I know I can make something better," he said. "I'm never going to settle, because if I do settle then I might as well just give up and stop writing music."
Gdula sees his contribution as looking for something that can be universal but also unique. "I think that I write love songs for people who aren't in love or people that don't understand love. I think that's really silly to say, and I'm not saying our lyrics are nonsensical. I'm just saying that they're love songs for people who haven't been in love or for people who aren't in love."
The pair doesn't know if their collaboration will last past their collegiate years, but they'd like for it to continue. Gdula feels a connection with the Brooklyn scene and hopes to move there after graduating, and Gerbino says that he expects some form of artistic exchange between the two, regardless of what they pursue in the future. "I don't see us not working together, I see just constant back and forth ideas thrown at each other. From an artist to an artist, regardless of whether it's music, film, anything-it's just sharing the same thread," he said.
Whether or not they continue, both feel drawn to working with music in some form-most likely through film for Gdula, and production or composition for Gerbino. "You know, The Cure came out with their sound, and I bet people said that wasn't pop. Then it became pop, and that's what great, that's what matters-that you can change people's minds and open people's minds to a new perspective."
If you'd like to hear Treewolf, you can listen to their song "The Lake's Alive," at HofstraChronicle.com.