New Jersey based, Clash of Influence (photo by George McBride)
“Organic” might not be the first word that comes to mind when you encounter Clash of Influence, but after seeing them perform live at the Stone Pony, watching a rehearsal session, and talking closely with some of the band members, I realized that it is the best word to describe them.
When the summer of 2004 began, two guys from Milltown, NJ sat by a backyard pool and played their guitars. With a shared love for music (and quite frankly, nothing better to do on a lazy summer day), Jay Renda and Pete Brucato embarked upon a musical endeavor that would lead to what we now know as Clash of Influence.
Renda, who had always dreamed of starting a band, was encouraged by the positive responses he and Brucato received from friends and family for playing cover songs. The two long-time friends quickly got more serious about their music; they practiced, wrote their own songs, and through mutual friends, found Chris Dundon to sing with them. Once Dundon and a fourth member were on board, they started to write more original music and book shows. Renda’s dream of being in a band was becoming a reality.
Jay Renda, of Clash of Influence, warming up before headlining at the Stone Pony (photo by Christina Rudczynski)
At this time they were called The Other Path, and their sound was primarily acoustic. Renda and Dundon found that they were a good songwriting team; Renda wrote the music and Dundon wrote the lyrics. Things were starting to fall into place, and though Brucato made a decision to leave the band in 2006, Renda and Dundon were still interested in seeing where the music would take them. They found new members and with each addition, the band’s acoustic sound gave way to punk, metal, and classic rock influences. Renda felt that the group’s “melting pot” of interests and styles was at the essence of who they had become and decided to rename the band Clash of Influence.
On stage at the Stone Pony with Clash of Influence (photo by Christina Rudczynski)
Today, Clash of Influence is: Chris Dundon – vocals, Jay Renda – guitars, Billy Hoffman – guitars, Aaron Fried – bass, and Jeff Trenholm – drums. They have daytime gigs that include bartending, landscaping, and being a stay-at-home dad, but it’s their love for music that connects them. “We get together on the weekends so we can have some fun,” Renda explains. “We all love doing this. Being in the band gives us a chance to do what we love.”
During a rehearsal session at Frankensound Recording and Rehearsal Studio in North Brunswick, NJ, it was clear how much the guys in Clash of Influence love what they do. They energetically played new material, challenged each other to remember how to play old TV theme songs, and sang covers of some of their own personal favorite songs. The veteran members supported drummer, and newest addition, Jeff Trenholm, as he became more familiar with the songs in the band’s catalog. Laughter filled the rehearsal space just as much as music did, and when their four hours of rehearsal time was up, it was evident that the band would have been happy to stay there to rehearse together for at least another four hours.
Clash of Influence, rehearsing at Frankensound
Currently working on a dozen new songs and preparing to record a new album, Clash of Influence is still gaining momentum. Some of the new songs they’re testing out will take the band back to their acoustic roots and they may eventually try to incorporate more acoustic moments into their live shows. They recently headlined at the musically historic Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ and have been invited to play there again this summer on July 6th. On playing at the Stone Pony, Dundon said, “It’s kind of the pinnacle when you’re playing in Jersey. I felt humbled because Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi played there.” The Stone Pony show and other summer dates are posted on the Clash of Influence website.
With Clash of Influence, a genuine love for music and performing supersedes the idea of stardom. Dundon explains that with the way the music industry is changing, there are many ways for an unsigned band to share their music these days. This grassroots method of sharing music gives the band the freedom to stay true to who they are musically while, as Dundon puts it, ” We get out there and hustle.” Even though no one in the band is pushing for it to become full-time, they are, however, sincerely open to the idea. With a big grin on his face and a bright gleam in his eye, Renda says, “We’re willing to see what happens, and go along for the ride.”
Clash of Influence is the real deal, the genuine result of five talented musicians getting together, believing in what they do and doing what they love, or in another word: organic.
The Jersey Girl
Visit the Clash of Influence website for links to iTunes, their facebook page, and other ways to listen to their music and keep informed of upcoming shows.
For booking information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.