Being a Band in 2016

A Conversation with Donovan Wolfington

It’s a Tuesday night and I think I’ll be in my apartment alone, but a friend, Alejandro Skalany, from my old high school messages me to let me know the band he’s in is coming to the Sidebar. That band is Donovan Wolfington, hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana, and they can give you the feels while you rock back and forth to their harmonies or screams. Granted, I haven’t seen the guy in 3 years and I know another old friend, Matt Seferian, is the band’s guitarist. The two have been in previous projects like The True Value and Pope and originally met in high school.

Brooklyn, NY. Photo by Mimi Hong.

I knew Matt and Alejandro were both in the music department together, so I wanted to know how Neil Berthier, singer/guitarist, remembers meeting drummer Mike Saladis. Neil was born in New Orleans and moved to Connecticut at the age of 7. Mike originally from New York grew up in Connecticut, but they never met until the two,”were 15 and (Neil) was in some shitty punk band. (They) met at this show where (Mike) was playing.” Neil asked Mike to do some recording and they, “got along so well after, (they) were friends ever since.”

Donovan Wolfington’s How to Treat the Ones You Love; released August 2015.

“Yeah that’s pretty much it,” Mike agreed,”they hit me up to do a record about two years ago, and now I’m here.”

Neil didn’t meet  Matt until the two were at,”freshman orientation for Loyola University in New Orleans…he was wearing a Pavement shirt, so (Neil) knew this kid was cool because he’s got a sick band tee on and he’s a nice guy.” It was a year later that the two decided to jam like they promised they would.

New Orleans, LA. Photo by Benjamin Clark.

Alejandro, however, was attending Berkley at this time and bassist Chris Lanthier was in Donovan Wolfington. Transferring to Loyola University, it all came full circle with everyone getting to know each other; it wasn’t until recently this changed.

Being a band in 2016 is difficult nowadays, but “it’s so much fun if you want to do it” Matt says. Neil believes,”it’s more on the band now then it is on anyone else, a lot of bands didn’t have (control) 20 years ago, if you want go for it, go for it; if not cool you can live on the internet, that’s fine too. Whatever your intentions are you can have that now. So just own it, you gotta’ be a fuckin’ badass, if it’s sick it’s sick, and if not it sucks.” Alejandro felt like,”the over saturation was daunting, but then (he) realized it really shouldn’t be. If you keep doing (music), there are going to be people who like it. We all have our little slice of life to fit ourselves into.”  There’s, “potential to have your own niche market in music now,” Matt agrees.

Austin, TX. Photo by Jin Salamack.

The crazy thing is they are right; everything they are doing is self-funded to a degree. The short yet ambitious tour they plotted out with Frameworks, targets the midwest and the east coast in 12 days from Chicago, Brooklyn, and Atlanta capping off the tour. Baltimore is only their fourth stop on a ten show tour; they are almost halfway through. Even when they “got their van broken into” in Chicago, things kept moving along for the group. With a lively performance which had the Sidebar bustling on a Tuesday night, I’d say they have some momentum going. Donovan Wolfington  offers a refreshing eclectic sound and varied set list; I either found myself wanting to start a pit or vibe out, but watching them perform together makes me happy because I know they are doing exactly what they want to do.

Renato J. Flores III is a Baltimore-based filmmaker and musician who hails from Houston, TX. He’s previously worked for HBO Documentary Films and Blowback Productions.

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