Georgetown Band Releases First Indie-Rock Album
The band Back to Yours – comprising one Georgetown student and four recent graduates – is known in the Georgetown community and elsewhere, having sold out numerous shows across the east coast. Now the band has just released its first full album Where Are We Going, which they hope is the first of many to come.
“When we all first started at Georgetown, we all loved music, but we weren’t sure what the music scene was like at the school,” says guitarist Tommy Levin (C’20).
The indie-rock group started in 2017, though many of the members had known each other for years. Levin, bassist Aiden Jones (C’20), and vocalist and keyboardist Daniel Luttway (C’20) met in their first-year residence hall Village C West, while guitarist Bryce Kassalow (C’21) attended high school with Luttway and drummer Jiaan Mansuri (C20) in New York. When Mansuri transferred to Georgetown from the University of Southern California, he reconnected with the other members and the group realized that they now had the drummer the band was missing.
Though the group was eager to start playing, they knew they could not just continue playing in their dorms.
“We knew we couldn’t continue bothering our hallmates, which is when we decided to sign up for the Guild of Bands in the spring of our sophomore year,” Levin says.
Guild of Bands is a pass-fail, one-credit course offered to bands on Georgetown’s campus. Groups audition for and then work with Department of Performing Arts professor David Murray and are given a place to practice music. Back to Yours was born in the course.
The band had their first campus show in the Great Room at the Healey Family Student Center, followed by a second performance at Bulldog Alley. It was this show that made the group members realize they wanted to pursue their passion commercially.
Artists, Tracks and Albums
In 2019, Back to Yours had their “big break” into the DC music scene when they were asked to open for the band Juice at Songbyrd Music House in Adams Morgan. The band was asked back to the venue for another show in September of 2019, this time as the headliner. After selling out the show show, Songbyrd asked the band to perform again in January of 2020
The group also performed in New York several times and at Wesleyan University in the fall of 2019. The band made the decision to pursue recording songs in addition to live performances after the first show.
With the help of connections they made through the Guild of Bands course, the band started recording singles in the on-campus basement studios and at a studio in Arlington, Virginia, using money they earned from their live performances. Back to Yours put out five singles, including “Feeling,” “Mallory,” “Mango,” “Rainjacket” and “Space Cadette” on streaming platforms like Spotify and iTunes beginning in June of 2019.
The group completed its first album a week before spring break – just before the university transitioned to online learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mansuri says that on-campus groups and their friends at Georgetown are what have helped motivate them to follow their passion for music.
During the school year, it had been difficult to find a time when all five students could commit to a 12-hour recording session. But in early March, they found a day when all of the members were free.
“Originally, we were just going to the recording studio that afternoon to touch up a few parts,” Luttway says. “But because we had such good energy, we ended up staying at the recording studio until four in the morning perfecting one of our new songs.”
“We came away with a finished song, “Johnny,” which was the last song we needed to complete our album,” he adds.
Back to Yours was originally scheduled to play a concert at Union Stage in DC on the night before graduation, and they hope that performance will be rescheduled at a later date. The band also hopes to start working on a second album and is optimistic about the future.
“This has been the best part of our college experience, and each day we are more committed to keep the momentum going so that we can continue to grow as artists,” says Mansuri. “On a broad scale we are really thankful to the Georgetown community because that is what has made us feel like we could do it.”
-by Shelby Roller (G’19)