Behind the Music: Alex’s Album and SSP

After playing drums for years, Alex Rusbarsky knew that he wanted to incorporate his love of music into his Senior Signature Project. While he could do that by writing and recording original music for his band, Landheads (a transposed reference to their native Marin), Alex knew that he needed a twist, a way to go beyond the basic song structure that most rock songs utilize.

The question quickly became, how could he make his music unique? To answer this, he turned to bands like Rush, Primus and Pink Floyd, all famous for their varying time signatures. Two well-known songs were especially inspirational, thanks to their atypical structure: “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead and “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. With these influences in mind, Alex and his bandmate, Ian Mott, quickly began writing music that expanded the typical song structure of intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, outro, into something much bigger.

Alex and Ian threw themselves into the business of songwriting, focusing on crafting unique rhythms and structures. The duo eventually came up with over 100 rough ideas for their EP, from single riffs to entire songs. And, while the friends have been playing together for a few years, this was Alex’s first foray into composition. As he said, “I wanted to branch out as an artist. There are plenty of songs that are unique in their own way that follow basic structure, but I wanted to see if I could do something different.” For his SSP, Alex didn’t only branch out as a songwriter; he also learned bass to help write, arrange, and play this new music.

Writing songs, however, was only the first step. To finish the project, Landheads needed to record a brand new, original EP. Mentor Scott Llamas of PopSmear Studios prepped the group on the importance of tight takes before they entered the studio. “I learned a lot about being really prepared, going to the studio…I was pretty prepared, and had rigid skeletons for each song, but there were still a lot of parts that I hadn’t rehearsed that I was going to improvise,” notes Alex. After three sessions, and with the magic of editing software, Landheads’ six-song album was complete. You can listen to the Landheads’ 22-minute EP on SoundCloud here.

Up next for Alex? He’ll be attending Trinity College in Connecticut this fall, where he plans to keep writing music and collaborating with Ian.

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