As the early afternoon rolls by on a summer Saturday, four-member pop-punk band Goodbye Friday share tales of driving down scary roads, playing pranks on each other, getting their licenses, high school lunches and their upcoming senior year of high school.
When they talk about their band and all the shows they've been playing—50 this summer—the volume in their voices rises, and they all speak at once.
The excitement escalades when they mention the contests they've won ["Too many to count," drummer Anthony Arci said.] And the venues they've played over the past year, like Bamboozle and the Stone Pony, are staples for any New Jersey band trying to make it. They accomplished all this before most of them turned age 18.
After name changes, line-up changes and an addition to the band, Goodbye Friday was formed in August 2008.
Rocco Costanza, the singer, Aaron Henriquez, the guitarist, and Mark Braun, the bassist, all 15 at the time, realized they needed to make changes to their band once they saw pop-punk band Crash Romeo. They knew of Arci because he attended Hopatcong High School [like Costanza and Braun] and asked him if he'd be their drummer.
"The second I saw that message being sent I was like, 'Dude he's going to say no,'" Henriquez said. "He just graduated high school. I didn't know him. I was thinking, he just got out of a band he's not going to want to be in another one."
To Henriquez's surprise, Arci couldn't wait to join.
"I was so eager to be in another band," Arci said.
After three days of practicing as together, with a show coming up later that week, Arci turned to Braun, and asked, "Do you think we'll be good by Friday?"
The response didn't matter. The name stuck. And so did their sound.
Right from the beginning, Goodbye Friday played upbeat and explosive pop punk tunes with a splash of dance thrown in.
"We didn't even really talk it over. It just kind of happened," Arci said. "We started playing and that was the sound that came out."
Along with the pop punk tunes, the band tries to offer something for everyone.
"We try to do breakdowns. We'll try to do dance, rock," Arci said. "We'll do something softer and acoustic."
Most of all they like interacting with the crowd.
"We love full interaction. We'll tell people to move up. We'll pull people on stage. We'll make people sing the song," Arci said.
Added Henriquez, "Our fans love us. When we play shows, it's packed. Our fans jump and scream. It's unlike any other local band I've seen."
When it comes to local Sussex County bands, Goodbye Friday believes they're helping the scene.
"We saved the music scene around here," Braun said.
For a couple years, bands weren't allowed to play at the Hopatcong High School. After Goodbye Friday played there, they were asked to come back for another show.
Maybe it's because they have songs teenagers can relate to. All of the songs on their EP, "It's Our Weekend," include lyrics about being invincible, staying up all night and falling in and out of love—a soundtrack to a high school summer. Or maybe it's because they interact with the crowd.
Either way they're doing something right as they continue to play shows with national acts such as Hit the Lights and Patent Pending throughout New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Currently they're on the Hot Topic district tour, playing acoustic sets at Hot Topic stores throughout New Jersey and New York.
On Aug. 15, they'll perform a show at Six Flags Great Adventure. By September 15, they'll begin recording their first full-length album, "We'll Bring the Girls," tentatively scheduled to be released in early January. Since July they've been sponsored by Shine Drums, a company based out of Sacramento, Calif.
Despite their blooming success they've decided to remain unsigned for now. It's all a part of their do-it-yourself mentality. None of the members took long-standing lessons, Costanza and Henriquez took some and decided to learn on their own. Arci didn't take any until he was required to for college. Braun designed the album's artwork, and they book all of their shows. They've gotten offers from managers, but they prefer to do the work.
"We want to keep it to ourselves," Braun said. "If the right label comes by, then we'll sign with them, but we want to stay label-free for as long as we can."
When asked if they had any goals as a band, without hesitations they all said: to have fun. With a band that's all about having a good time and experiencing as much as possible, concrete plans seem to be out of the question.
"I don't have any plans," Costanza said. "Hopefully this record label will come this year."
Regardless of plans, the band is happy with what they've accomplished so far.
"Even if our band ended tomorrow, I'd be so happy with what we've done already. All the new people we've met," Henriquez said. "I could say my body played Bamboozle."
"I used to dream of playing at Knights of Columbus and places like the Firehouse," Braun said. "It's so much different than I thought it would be."
"We definitely set out with high hopes for the band but our biggest dreams are to have a good time and support ourselves," Arci said. "This is our dream so we don't care what it entails."
Editor's note: Check out Goodbye Friday on its Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/goodbyefridaynj