WORDS: CHRIS PRENATT

Ah Chicago, the Windy City. The big 312. This lovely city in the midwestern United States is known for their sports teams, art, and deep dish pizza. But the city is also a breeding ground for music, creating an environment that allows these artists to thrive. Artists and bands like The Academy Is…, Earth, Wind & Fire, Rise Against, I Fight Dragons, and of course, Fall Out Boy, all got their start in the area. Hell, one of the coolest punk rock festivals in the world Riot Fest takes place in Chicago’s Douglas Park.

But even the Great American City has many bands who are unknown to the rest of the world that are like the city’s best secrets. Groups like Retirement Party, Turnspit, Varsity, Girl K, and Rookie are some of the area’s best up-and-comers. But the one that is not on anyone’s radar is the pop-punk group Cleveland Avenue.

Named after the street they first started practicing together, Cleveland Avenue are a five-piece that have all the credentials to be your next favorite band. Made up of vocalist Joshua Berry, guitarists/vocalists Thomas Bulvan and Kevin Patrick, bassist Dominic Carabez, and drummer Adam Gay, these guys are, as their Facebook page bluntly puts it, “pop-punk af.”

“The band name comes from the street we originally practice at,” said the boys. “It’s much more than the street we practice on though. It’s the place where this band formed. The place were we all become friends. The name is very close to our hearts.”

“The local scene is unbelievable. There are honestly so many great bands in the Chicagoland area”

Cleveland Avenue got together when their bassist wanted to make a Blink-182 cover band. But of course that all changed. “[Carabez] went to the same high school as [Gay.] The missing pieces were filled, and the rest is history,” they recollect. “Turned into more than just a cover band. We knew we wanted to write our own material.”

As stated previously, their name isn’t the only thing that they keep close to their hearts. That would be their city. The group have performed shows throughout the city, playing alongside local acts like Lettering, Peter Hunt & The Great Outdoors, Chaos In Creation, and Normalcy, and national bands such as Keep Flying from the Northeastern United States (ranging from New Jersey to Pennsylvania,) Young Culture from Albany, NY, Plans from Indianapolis, The Home Team from Seattle, and Ramonda Hammer from Los Angeles. Cleveland Avenue are a band who are currently keeping their feet planted in their beautiful city and are blossoming like the lovely flowers they’ll grow to be.

“The local scene is unbelievable. There are honestly so many great bands in the Chicagoland area,” they say about their scene. “The city is home to many great bands such as Belmont, Knuckle Puck and Real Friends, and they have inspired us tremendously. We are avid concert-goers, and seeing these guys play shows and interacting with the crowd with their music was something we knew we wanted to be a part of.”

The band just dropped their latest EP “True Love Is Not Just A Pizza Tattoo” back on 15 November, and it’s an absolute blast. The songs deal with real life struggles regarding to knowing your place in a relationship and mental health. From the high-energy opening number (“True Love Is Not Just A Pizza Tattoo”) to the Four Year Strong-esque closer (“Stu Macher Is Shaggy Rogers,”) this EP is something to definitely not pass on.

“[Tommy’s] favorite actor is Matthew Lillard so realizing that a childhood idol was taking the time to listen to our new single was incredible.”

When looking back on the recording process of the EP, they said, “It was such a blast! [Producer] Roye Robley is extremely talented and an overall great person. He gave us the best advice possible in order to take the band to the next level.”

The band got the attention of Matthew Lillard, the actor who played Stu Macher in the horror film “Scream” and Shaggy in the live-action adaptation of “Scooby-Doo.” It all started when Bulvan tweeted the actor about their latest song “Stu Macher Is Shaggy Rogers,” writing to the 49-year-old actor, “my band named a song after 2 of my favorite characters you ever played. If you gave it a listen I’d be eternally grateful.” And sure enough, he did, and loved it. “Who knew I would end up with a new favorite band tonight?” Lillard responded.

“We were in total shock!” the band said about the whole experience. “[Tommy’s] favorite actor is Matthew Lillard so realizing that a childhood idol was taking the time to listen to our new single was incredible.”

When 2020 rolls around, the band want to get on the road and travel outside the boundary lines of the Prairie State. “We’ve only played shows in Illinois, so we are excited to travel to nearby states and show everyone what Cleveland Avenue’s is all about,” said the guys with enthusiasm. They’re hoping to do shows with Keep Flying, In Her Own Words, Sleep On It, and Belmont. A new song should be out early next year, so keep your eyes peeled for Cleveland Avenue.

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