..::One of the most undervalued advantages of being young is that life is about potential. It’s about all of the things that could be. One can choose to follow a path to become a doctor, a computer programmer, a sports hero or one of a multitude of career paths that lead to financial stability, a house, a nice car, kids and a wife…the American dream. And the dream is still a dream. For Makeshift Prodigy that dream was to pour their hearts and souls into something that they would then just give away to let it become a part of someone else’s heart, soul, and being. “A song is something that you slave over, put tears and joy into, craft and create….and then, once it’s done, once it has all of your meaning and emotion in it, you give it to a fan to take it and make of it whatever they want it to be, to mean whatever they want it to mean,” says Anthony Bagnara, Makeshift’s lead singer. Most music fans now know that the days of rock stars flying around in private jets, eating fancy meals in the best restaurants, and living the life that is now a preclusion only for Paris Hilton and Middle-Eastern princes, is well in the past. It’s that juxtaposition that makes Makeshift Prodigy such an interesting musical prototype. At the age when each individual had the potential to do whatever he wanted, they chose the life of sleeping in a van, eating at your local sub vendor, and struggling to pay rent because it was more important to create and release. To share their songs so fans could make them their own. To give away and to give back….
Makeshift Prodigy was initially started by childhood friends Anthony Bagnara (guitar/vocals/piano) and Jake Foy (guitar). The two played local coffee houses and college bars together and the crowds began to grow. As more people turned out for shows, more shows turned up and eventually they were asked to play a show that required a full band. It only made sense to Anthony and Jake to share their creativity and experiences with more friends, so they tracked down Joe Bauer (drums) and Brandon Fox (keys/background vocals). Later they added Christian Kwitkowski on bass and they had created a band made mostly of childhood friends that could walk to one and other’s houses for rehearsals.
“We began to constantly play dive bars and clubs in the Chicago area…when bigger local bands would play, we’d stand outside in the cold passing out flyers and meeting people. When bigger bands weren’t playing we were on the Internet getting our music out,” says Bagnara when asked about the band’s early days. Makeshift Prodigy’s hard work paid off and before long the band started checking items off their wish list of Chicago venues by performing at the legendary Metro and soon after House Of Blues. These shows and their impressive turnouts proved that the band’s live shows—complete with purposefully integrated lights and strobes—work just as well inside a cramped club as they do in a massive theatre. “We have a little bit of a different approach to our live show than most bands,” Brandon Fox says. “We see the performance as a whole. We create songs, we create a light show (which we built from scratch to match our songs and sound), we create movement and drama on stage….it’s a complete package. It’s meant to be as visually appealing as it is sonically.”
Despite their workhouse mentality no one would have bothered with Makeshift Prodigy if it wasn’t for their epic brand of alternative rock, which is teeming with cathartic climaxes, inspiring choruses and a sense of hopefulness that has helped them connect with fans all over the world. The songs are wrought with emotion, some very stark with few, but powerful lyrics to latch onto, others with vast musical landscapes one can get lost in and be lucky to find their way out of.
These components are evidenced in the band’s latest release, Illuminate, which came out in November of 2012 and saw the band following their DIY tradition of recording in their own studio. Although it only has six tracks, the EP gives an accurate overview of the variance inherent in Makeshift Prodigy’s music, ranging from the expansive, emotive vibe of “A Way Out” to the instantly catchy, orchestrally augmented power of “Some Kind Of Miracle.” “I think we’re always evolving,” Bagnara explains. “It’s a growing process and we’re always trying to experiment without losing sight of the core of the band and what we sound like.”
That same pursuit of lofty artistic height applies to the band’s lyrics and this is where it goes back to giving things away. “I know what these songs are about for me, but it’s not really my song even though I wrote it; it’s up to the listeners to take in and apply to their own lives,” he explains. “We’ll create it. It will have our meaning, but eventually it becomes the emotional property of a fan.” Correspondingly, everyone who has experienced love or loss can relate to couplets like “Give me more time so we can try to make this work/So when we lose our minds you were the center of my universe,” from “Bittersweet Surrender.”
Speaking of fans, Makeshift Prodigy pride themselves on the relationship they’ve cultivated with their growing number of fans—and unlike a lot of acts they don’t just sit behind the computer all day, they’re in the trenches forging real relationships with their listeners. “During a show there’s a one-on-one connection with every single person in the crowd and still to this day we make sure we hang out after the show to foster interaction,” Bauer explains, adding that this was the case during their recent tour with The Almost. “Ultimately we make music because we want to touch people and impact their lives and when we hear personal stories about how our songs helped people get through tough times, that’s the ultimate validation.”
Makeshift Prodigy are currently at home gearing up for their inaugural appearance at Lollapalooza and a massive college tour this fall, as well as writing material for their upcoming full-length on Atlantic—and don’t worry, if anything, these massive opportunities confirm the fact that the band won’t be altering their approach as the buzz surrounding them reaches critical mass. “We’ve always been really proud of the fact that Makeshift Prodigy is a self-sustaining unit and that will never change,” Bagnara summarizes. “We’re so proud of everything that we’ve accomplished thus far and right now the possibilities seem limitless.”
-Signed to Atlantic Records and Warner Chappell Music
-50 tour dates locked in between now and October, including 25 college dates
-College radio campaign to coincide with fall semester 2013
-“Chasing Daylight” radio add date for fall 2013
-Album tracks, remixes and acoustic versions of songs available for giveaways/promo
-Playing Lollapalooza in Chicago 2013
-TIME OUT CHICAGO MAGAZINE: ”Makeshift Prodigy….retraint bedamned, tackles clubs with arena-rock verve.”
-Fearless Radio: ”I have seen 100s of bands…and I want to tell you that their live performance is second to none.”
-Michael Eck at Global Adrenaline: “It was the type of music that touched your senses and sparked the imagination. Fans instantly felt that energetic vibe.”