Lifespeed Reels in the Crowd at The Marlin

By SANDRA WEYANT | Jul 12, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Lifespeed is “the point of velocity in which mind, body and soul transcend boundaries through pulse intensifying composition and conscious altering libretto set to melody; musical sensory breaking point,” as defined on the band’s website. The name of the band stems from the concept of the “speed of life,” but its goal is for spectators to take in every moment. Time flies, but music always leaves a lasting impression.

After playing 11 shows in 11 days, and two consecutive sets prior to Saturday night’s performance at The Marlin in Beach Haven, Lifespeed sounded fresh and fierce, and the crowd responded to its contagious energy by singing and dancing all night long. All in attendance would agree that Lifespeed’s mix of melodies got their minds and hearts racing.

The elite cover band formed in 2001 in New Jersey with founding members Robert Muller and Tibor “T” Bodnar, who have been friends since high school; James McGill signed on shortly after, in 2002. The current lineup consists of lead singer Sean Dunne, bassist P.J. Farley, guitarists Muller and McGill, and Bodnar on drums. The band jokes that it refreshes its singers every couple of years, but Dunne has been going strong for three years and plans to stick around for many more to come.

Lifespeed has a solid foundation of dedicated artists, and Muller feels lucky to have acquired such talented individuals to form the band’s unique sound. “I think when you’re in the whole circuit playing among friends and musicians, you gravitate toward people you feel you can work with and have some sort of common ground. When you want to find the best musicians to fit the spots, you grab them,” he said.

Though Muller finds it simple to compliment other musicians, he is a bit harder on himself. “I have been playing guitar for 30 years, and I should be a lot better,” he joked. When Muller isn’t jamming on the guitar, “all he does is skateboard,” according to Dunne. Occasionally, Muller enjoys writing music, but it can be difficult to set aside creative time with the band’s busy schedule of shows lined up every Thursday through Saturday and other events scattered in between. Muller listens to “shoegazing music,” a genre that merges indie and alternative rock, and finds inspiration through such bands as Slowdive, Curve, Lush and Ride.

 

Most of the group members have hobbies in addition to playing their respective instruments or singing, but Bodnar says that even outside the band, his favorite activity is drumming.

“I had my first drum set when I was 5 years old, so I’ve been playing basically my entire life. I can’t remember a part of my life that didn’t involve music. My dad played drums and a lot of classical piano, so I was surrounded by it,” he said. Dunne revealed that Bodnar is also a skilled puppeteer and crafts his own intricate puppets, though he likes to keep that information on the down-low. Cat’s out of the bag.

Aside from belting out his favorite tunes on a weekly basis, Dunne works full time at popular clothing and footwear retailer Vans. “My jobs are my hobbies, so it’s pretty great,” he said. Dunne has been singing since middle school and joined his first band when he was a freshman in high school. He has devoted nearly 20 years to music as a career.

“I have always been singing, and I enjoyed taking music classes. I went to Rutgers University to study music. It’s always been something I loved. My favorite genres are pop-punk and alternative rock,” he said.

McGill has been playing guitar since he was a kid. “Music was always a part of the family. There were always guitars and other instruments around. The desire to want to play just came naturally,” he said. In his spare time, he enjoys working out and being with his daughters.

Bandmates dubbed Farley as the “pirate” of the band because he is constantly playing bass “whenever and wherever he can.” Farley was previously a member of hard rock/glam metal group Trixter, which opened for big-name acts like Poison, Kiss and Scorpions, and also performed at large venues for sold-out crowds.

“His last far-away gig was in Japan,” Dunne said. “If he’s not with us, he’s playing everywhere. If he’s not playing, he’s spending time with his daughters.”

“P.J. is a road dog,” McGill said. “He also plays with Eric Martin from Mr. Big. He’s doing it up. He is definitely the band member who has had the most success in the music industry, by far.”

In terms of rehearsals, the band really gets together only to learn new songs or to practice difficult vocal parts in others. For the most part, “learning your own instrument is the hard part, so we send out the MP3s and everyone learns them,” Bodnar said.

Lifespeed is mainly a pop-punk and rock cover band, but the group has an impressive repertoire of songs to cater to all genres and listeners, including hip-hop hits and even some country tracks.

“We try to have a set list, but it all depends on the gig,” Dunne said. “We try to have a guideline. We play every Thursday in Saddle Brook, so we’ll write out a set, but it will change throughout the night. Right now, I’m writing a set for this room. From prior experiences, we know that this crowd likes more of the pop-punk music, but when we play at the Beach Bar, most people enjoy the hip-hop and R&B.”

For anyone looking to form a band of their own, Dunne and Bodnar had some words of wisdom. “Just play,” Bodnar said. “A lot of kids come up to me and they’re like, ‘Oh, I want to be in a band, but I’m not that good,’ and I tell them that you just have to have the desire and dedication to play. You don’t have to be the best musician in the world to be on stage. You just have to want to play and have fun with it.

“The more you play, the better you get. Like right now, our band probably sounds the tightest and cleanest we have in a while because we are playing a lot together. That is how you get better – just get out there and play.”

Bodnar explained that he and other musician friends spent years playing and practicing in their basements and performing for free, but eventually it all paid off. “It’s a calling. It takes time and studying. You have to be kind of insane to want to keep practicing for no other reason than you love it. Nobody is telling you, ‘Oh, that’s a great idea. You should totally do that.’ You do it because you want to. Just keep playing, enjoy it, and see where it takes you.”

The future of the band remains promising with its huge following and consistently electric performances. “All of us have done original songs in our past,” McGill said. “Some of the stuff we did was released, but for now, the focus is on our assortment of covers and expanding to new areas and reaching even more people.”

Bodnar hopes to travel farther up and down the coast to explore more venues. Currently, Lifespeed performs in venues as far north as Vermont all the way down to Maryland, and it will be playing in Florida in the near future.

The guys are always looking to make new friends, so show some support and follow them on social media. Visit https://www.lifespeed.tv to see a full schedule of upcoming shows. Lifespeed will return to The Marlin on Aug. 26.

 

Set List Snippet

“I Don’t Wanna Be,” Gavin DeGraw

“Sex on Fire,” Kings of Leon

“24K Magic,” Bruno Mars

“Save A Horse,” Big & Rich

“Move Along,” All American Rejects

“Shape of You,” Ed Sheeran

“The Middle,” Jimmy Eat World

“The Anthem,” Good Charlotte

“Take Me Out,” Franz Ferdinand

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