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Erie, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Erie, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Alternative Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"VWLS // VWLS 4-Star Review"

VWLS comes out of the gate swinging with their first professionally produced, self-titled effort, and it’s immediately apparent that these guys aren’t pulling any punches when it comes to producing mathy, stimulating rock. While the all too short demo only features four tracks, the disc is packed with technical intricacies and catchy hooks. From the psychedelic, jam-worthy riffage of the opening track “Puppet” to the reverb-heavy refrains of “Falling Down,” the demo is an absolute treat. While the vocals might lay a little low in the mix at times, they still provide an excellent compliment to the complexity of VWLS’s instrumental ensemble, which remains the true star of the demo. Best of all, this group is one of many remarkable up-and-coming local acts, and their dedication to their craft is a sure sign of hope for the continued growth of the Erie music scene. - Erie Reader

"Erie's VWLS Opens for Wild Adriatic and Releases Debut Album at King's Rook Club"

They’ve got a guy playing glockenspiel and doing vocals, another vocalist whaling on some lead guitar riffs, a second guitarist that’s looping at least two different licks, a drummer that’s almost as techy as Chris Pennie, and a rapper who plays bass.

In other words, VWLS isn’t your standard local lineup.

And while all that might sound like the makings of a colossal mess, the band’s diversity is what drives their highly experimental sound. VWLS is made up of musicians that hail from a wide range of musical backgrounds, all of whom are committed to pioneering novel sounds.

After sitting in on a practice session with the full band, I can only describe them as a blend of psychedelic rock and progressive sensibilities. Soaring guitar riffs from Luis Pontillo and Alik Kujkowski are grounded by Dom Ferrare’s meaty bass tones and James Quirk’s complex rhythm work, while Todd Paropacic brings in a melodic blend of vocals and keys.

Overall, VWLS provides fresh and funky sounds. I talked to the band members about their beginnings, and what the future might hold for the group as they prepare for their upcoming show opening up for Wild Adriatic at the King’s Rook Club Saturday, May 9.

Mike Iverson: When did VWLS really become a project for you guys?

Luis Pontillo: We started working on VWLS this past October. I went on this Scotland trip with Todd to do a play for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and when we got back, I asked him if he wanted to start a group. He was doing some music on his own at the time and was into the idea, so we formed this group and it fell apart in like a week. And while that was discouraging, I wound up running into Alik at the Rook one night and convinced him to come jam with us. Long story short, that laid the groundwork for a lot of what we’re doing now, and the band came together from that.

Alik Kujkowski: I’ll never forget, I was like, “...you had me at that first song” [laughs]. From there, I brought James in because we were working on Sea of Teeth together, but wanted to experiment with something different on the side.

LP: So it was just me, Todd, James, and Alik for a while, then we brought Dom in to play bass about four weeks ago and started teaching him the songs we had worked up.

MI: It can be tough to bring a new member up to speed even if a band’s just starting out. Dom, how was it settling in with the other guys?

Dom Ferrare: It wasn’t hard to pick up what they were doing. I’d worked with James and Alik before on some pre-Sea of Teeth stuff, so it’s been a pretty comfortable transition.

MI: You rap too, and the rest of you all seem to have projects outside VWLS; does it ever get hard to maintain a balance between everything?

DF: I still rap, and I’m dedicated to that, but I’ve always found ways to put my all into whatever I’m working on, and I know the rest of these guys are the same way.

James Quirk: We’ve been thinking about ways to bring elements from our other projects into VWLS too; maybe cover a Gorillaz song and have Dom rap, or bring in even more technical guitar work like we do in Sea of Teeth.

AK: I’ve always just been excited to try new things and experiment with different sounds, and I think all of us are like that in our own way. That attitude is really what’s helped this project take off the way it has.

MI: You guys are doing some really interesting things with your sound in a scene that often defaults pretty hard on punk and hardcore standards. With that, I have to ask what some of your biggest musical influences are as a group.

LP: It’s a pretty wide range at this point; people have told us that they hear notes of Tame Impala and Minus the Bear in our stuff, which is a weird combination in and of itself, but there’s a lot of bands we could credit as influences.

AK: We really just like to draw inspiration from wherever we can. I feel like when it comes to music in general these days people just kind of end up infinitely describing bands with other bands. It’s like this crazy mesh of influences all overlapping, and while that’s all fine, we just want to pioneer our own sound.

Since this last conversation with the band they’ve done more than solidify their sound; they’ve played a handful of house shows and small venues, started working on merch, and even finished their first demo. While you can find one sample track from this demo at soundcloud.com/VWLS-music-1, you can pick up the full thing at their upcoming release show.

8 p.m., Saturday, May 9 // The King’s Rook Club, 1921 Peach St. // facebook.com/kingsrookclub - Erie Reader

"Student, alumnus find success in music"

The other day, I got to sit down and chill with one of the most exciting and promising up-and-coming bands in the area. The music that they’ve written is an amalgamation of melodic guitar, ambient vocals, hip-hop basslines and heavy/funky drum beats: VWLS.

First of all, the name is great. VWLS. Get it? It’s “VOWELS” without the vowels! How cool is that?

The music reminded me of a late night sandwich when you’re starving and grab everything that you like to eat and put it between two slices of bread; in theory, it should be disgusting, but it totally works.

The band consists of Gannon University alumnus Luis Pontillo ’13 on guitar and senior theatre and communication arts major Todd Paropacic on vocals and keys, Alik Kujkowski on guitar, Dommy Doo on bass and James Quirk on drums.

It was my pleasure to spend the evening with Paropacic and Pontillo talking about the band and their upcoming show.

We started out listening to their only release so far, “Puppet.” It’s reminiscent of an odd mixture of Led Zepplin and Alt-J, two of their biggest influences, they said. When I asked them how they went about writing their songs, I got the band’s life-story, which was pretty insane.

The first time the idea of the band even came up was in Scotland.

Paropacic and Pontillo were both on a trip to Edinburgh with Gannon’s theatre department when one night, Paropacic picked up a guitar at an open-mic night in a bar and had an epiphany. That night he told Pontillo he wanted to start playing and they’ve been jamming ever since.

When they got back, they tried to start something with a few local players, but it didn’t last long, and they ended up just sitting on park benches throwing ideas back and forth.

The two were almost going to throw in the towel when Pontillo saw an old high-school friend, Kujkowski, at the King’s Rook Club, the place that would eventually become the venue for their first large-scale concert.

Kujkowski plays guitar for the local band, Sea of Teeth, so they both started talking and set up a little jam session where they kicked around the riff for “Puppet” and decided to start a small group.

The next time they got together, Pontillo brought Paropacic and Kujkowski brought his Sea of Teeth bandmate, Quirk, and they hit it off immediately. Later, they brought in Doo, and the current VWLS lineup was solidified.

Now Paropacic and Pontillo could finally answer my first question and explained how they wrote their songs. The process begins with them all sitting around Kujkowski and Quirk’s house talking and hanging out until someone gets an idea.

“We all go down to the lab like mad scientists,” Paropacic and Pontillo said, almost at the same time. They shoot riffs, beats and lyrics at each other in the instrument-filled basement until they begin to fit and feel good. As chaotic as that sounds, the results speak for themselves.

After a story like that, I bet you’re wondering how you can hear these rising stars. Well unfortunately for all those either going home for the summer or under-age – but quite fortunately for everyone else – their next show is May 9 at the King’s Rook Club. They’re going to be playing with Wild Adriatic in the downstairs concert room.

When I asked them about their set list, they told me that they’d be playing all originals with an intro and an interlude that they’re currently perfecting. Onstage chemistry makes a band, and VWLS definitely has it. If you can make it to this show coming up, I strongly recommend it.

When I listen to VWLS, I get excited about music and performance, and their insane originality takes you to a world so deeply rooted in all of their emotions and passion, it’s impossible to deny their imminent success as musicians and artists. - The Gannon Knight

"Downtown Diva Interview"

Video Interview in preparation for May 9th Kings Rook Club performance. - Erie Times-News

"Halloween Extravaganza Featuring Falling Hollywood with VWLS and LEC"

Unless you caught them at this summer’s Great Blue Heron Music Festival or fall’s Night Lights Music Festival, or elsewhere out on the road, you likely haven’t heard much from Falling Hollywood lately. After a blister bout of regional gigging in 2014 to support their sophomore effort, Heavy Weather, the Erie-based alternative rockers dialed back their number of live shows around Erie.

But for good reason: They’ve been working on new material.

The band’s debut release, 2012’s Set The Table, delivered experimental folk-rock, drawing comparisons to The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. Two years later, Heavy Weather featured a more Black-Keys-meets-Arctic-Monkeys feel, but the newest stuff they’ve been testing out at festivals goes even harder and darker, reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age-esque desert rock. It’s their most mature and well-crafted work to date.

Rounding out the bill, local scene newcomers VWLS – catchy math-rock-psychedelic rockers – open the downstairs show, and hip-hop-rock stalwarts LEC get the party going upstairs after Falling Hollywood’s set. New songs, fresh bands, bumping after party stretching well into the night – sounds like one hell of a great way to spend Halloween. — Ben Speggen - Erie Reader


  • Consequences of Love
  • Intro
  • Lelo
  • For the Weather
  • Falling Down
  • Interlude
  • Puppet
  • Kramer
  • The Day
  • Wasted Days
  • Plastic Shaman
  • Through The Forest



In the midst of releasing our first demo, VWLS' music came from the desire to experiment and meld different influences into one. All members from the group have a strong background in their own specific type of genre, from psychedelic rock (Luis Pontillo), acoustic folk (Todd Paropacic), hip hop/rap (Dominic Ferrare) and post hardcore (Alik Kujkowski & James Quirk). VWLS is a blend of all of these heavy influences with a hunger for experimenting and pushing boundaries.

This blend of musicians sets VWLS apart from genre driven music as we try not define our sound by titles given to the group or songs, but rather by our mood or message when writing a piece of music. We all like different types of music, so we focus on bringing our influences to the sound.

VWLS started while Luis and Todd were performing a theatre piece at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. They discussed starting a music group back home, and upon their arrival in Erie began meeting weekly to write together. After building a catalog of acoustic works, Luis and, then acquaintance, Alik Kujkowski met for an impromptu jam session which resulted in the forming of a new group. Not yet named, Alik invited James to become the drummer, and finally Dominic joined the ranks as bassist completing the lineup.

The demo being released in early May was the first four songs written by VWLS during the months of October-December of 2014. Since then the group has written an hours worth of music and successfully gathered 250 fans for their debut performance at the Kings Rook Club on May 9th.

Band Members