Rocking the Hall

New Moon Jellies

Seton Hall senior Aaron Lenza spends his free time as the lead guitarist in the New Moon Jellies, an unsigned band hailing from Staten Island.

Classified as “indie rock,” the band cites several diverse influences with roots in folk, psychedelic and show tunes. Each member has a unique taste in music, with all of the members agreeing upon certain common musical tastes like Arcade Fire and Radiohead. These numerous influences condense into a subtle twist on indie rock that caters to a wide audience.

The band, comprised of front man John James Ratel, drummer and producer Paul Carrigan, lead guitarist Lenza, classically trained violinist Lindsay Podd, guitarist Alex Divito and bassist John Demaio, attend other colleges in the area, which forces the band to only meet a few times a month.

“Going to college and trying to successfully devote a lot of time to a band is difficult,” Lenza said. “Between school schedules, hour long commutes, work schedules and social lives, it takes some coordination to rehearse and play shows.”

Thus, Lenza advises other musicians, college students especially, to collaborate with those nearby in order to avoid such inconveniences. He heavily credits bands that form during their college years and manage to attain success.

“It’s a hobby for some, but a dream for others,” he said.

Together, New Moon Jellies recorded and released their debut album entitled “Vicious Wishes.” In addition, they will soon be offering band T-shirts, as well as merchandise through an online shop. The band continues to play gigs around the area, accepting online demands from fans to play in their towns. Selected tracks, merchandise and information can be found at

The New Moon Jellies will be playing at Seton Hall University in the Pirates Cove on Wednesday, April 21 with Mike Balakonis.

Samson Mobashar can be reached at

West Gate

While rock band West Gate is based in South Orange, the group’s real birth place is right on the Seton Hall campus. Three of the five band members, vocalist Pete Kelly, guitarists Kurt Andrews and Alex Goldenthal, drummer George Roskos and bassist Joe Schweighardt, went to Seton Hall.

“Kurt and I met on the three-South floor of Boland Hall,” George Roskos said in an e-mail interview.

Andrews and Roskos were involved in their local music scenes growing up and they instantly clicked.

Naturally, the musically-inclined group gravitated to WSOU, Seton Hall’s radio station, where they met Kelly.

“WSOU taught us a lot, especially how the music industry actually operates,” Roskos said. “Our time at WSOU still gives us a huge upper hand when working with others in the industry. It’s been one of our biggest retained assets from Seton Hall.”

Other than WSOU, the Seton Hall students participated in diverse studies and activities.

Of the additional responsibility of being in a band, writing, practicing and performing, Roskos said, “It certainly wasn’t easy. With an education major, a public relations major, and me being a business major, it was a constant scheduling conflict.”

Still, they pressed on.

“We all knew how important it was to us and we made it work 100 percent of the time,” he said. “We’re still going strong three years later.”

Roskos lists Incubus, Sevendust and Tool as major influences for West Gate and describes the band’s sound as “clean-cut hard rock music with a unique approach to musicality and melody.”

West Gate released the EP “Selah” in 2008 and followed up with their first LP “Daylight” in 2009. Last year, the band played Sayreville’s Starland Ballroom four times “with great crowds and tons of fan support,” Roskos said. The band will soon release a new EP and plan to tour this summer to spread the word about West Gate.

Interested? West Gate will play a show at Crash Mansion in New York on March 13 and at the MC Auditorium in Denville on March 19. Find out more at about the band at

Bonnie Falconer can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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