On sophomore Mitch Dinopoulos’ first day of French class during his freshman year, his professor asked each student to share an interesting fact about themselves. Little did he know, this simple question would be the catalyst that spurred Beer For The Blind, a rock band with a self-described emo-jazz flair powered by lead singer sophomore David DeFlorentis, accompanied by Dinopoulos on guitar, sophomore Henry Patricy on bass and sophomore Andrew Wilson on drums.
“I said guitar, [Patricy] said bass, and [the professor] was like, ‘Oh, you should start a band together.’ And we did,” said Dinopoulos.
The other members of the band met in similarly coincidental, somewhat serendipitous situations. DeFlorentis, who lived in the same dorm as Dinopoulos, overheard him playing the guitar on the first day of school.
“I just got out of a band, and I wanted to be in one, so I kept bugging him for a while,” said DeFlorentis.
Dinopoulos met Wilson in JCU’s jazz band, then introduced the four musicians to each other.
“[Dinopoulos] didn’t really want to do anything until he could know that we could be friends outside of a band, so at the end of the school year, we decided to go for it,” said DeFlorentis.
Inspiration for “Beer for the Blind” struck Wilson one day as he was driving home from work.
“I was driving home from work one day when a blind man was trying to cross the street and almost got hit by a car,” said Wilson. “But he didn’t get hit, and he made it to the other side of the street, and he made it into the beer distributor, and I said, ‘Beer for the Blind. There it is.’”
There wasn’t much debate about a band name once Wilson shared his story with the rest of the band.
DeFlorentis, who had few other ideas for a name in mind, said, “It took a day to come to terms with the fact that it was fantastic.”
A unique mix of musical inspiration lends to the band’s distinct sound. They cite bands varying from Avenged Sevenfold to The Beatles to Led Zeppelin as major influences on their music, and they take a very collaborative approach when writing. Most often, DeFlorentis will write a song, then bring it to the rest of the band, who add in their own ideas and rewrite it.
“We all sort of put our own take on it,” said Wilson. “It kind of progresses and changes as we play it, and it ends up being something completely different than it originally started out as.”
Patricy wrote the band’s newest song, titled “The Good Luck Trap,” which he also sings.
“The song’s pretty much about getting out there and doing what you love, making sure that you’re not just following that path just to serve the system, per se,” Patricy said. “Just to do what you love and to not settle for less. In a punkish, alternative rock style.”
The band also performs a song called “Murphy Girl,” inspired by a resident in Murphy Hall.
“What people told me is there’s this girl in Murphy, and all these people wrote songs about her trying to win her over because she’s really beautiful,” said DeFlorentis. “I kind of took the idea of Murphy girl and what people expect her to be. Because when we’re all freshmen in college, you know, everyone has an expectation. Guys have to go out and party and get laid, and girls have to be really appealing to guys. And it’s about when we all come together that first year, we do things that aren’t ourselves to try to be accepted, and though we have an appearance that that’s what we want and we’re happy, that might not actually be what we want on the inside. So it’s not about Murphy girl directly; it’s about all of us.”
The band also often includes favorite covers in their set list such as “Steady As She Goes” by the Raconteurs, “Little Sister” by Queens of the Stone Age and “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin.
They practice at least once a week in Wilson’s sister’s garage, which they coined “The Brewery,” in a house off of Warrensville.
“It’s very cold in there in the winter because it’s not insulated,” said Wilson. “But the neighbors don’t seem to mind, so it works out, because we slowly figured out that there’s nowhere to play on campus. So we had to find our own place. But it works.”
As students, finding the time to practice can be a struggle, but the musicians take time to practice on their own when they’re not together. So far, they’ve played shows during the open mic night at The Local Tavern in Mentor and Willoughby Hills.
The band plans to perform in Youngstown on Dec. 26 at The Lemon Tree, opening for DePaul, a band from Nashville.
Setting their sights on the future, they are focusing on writing some more original songs, recording a demo and starting up a Facebook page.
“One thing you should know is that we’re a very new band, even though we’ve been playing for about a year,” said Patricy. “We’re just getting started.”