The four members of pop-punk band City of Parks remember performing their first gig for 10 people when they formed. Halfway through their first year as a band, they performed at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Maryland Heights along with other rock bands at Pointfest.
Now, they are celebrating the release of their first studio album and are ready once again to compete in order to perform at next year’s Pointfest.
City of Parks consists of Webster University audio engineering major Joey Olszowy, Missouri State graduate Brian Grubb, Saint Louis University graduate Dan Grubb and Blake Boyster, who calls himself “your typical definition of a rock n’ roller.”
Boyster said he and the Grubb brothers had known each other for 10 years. Boyster said he first met Olszowy while he was performing for other bands before City of Parks.
“Joey would show up at my shows randomly,” Boyster said. “I didn’t really know him, but we became friends through these shows.”
The idea of forming a band came from Dan Grubb, who started thinking about it two years ago.
“I was writing songs for old girlfriends,” Dan Grubb said. “I had five songs and thought, ‘we could start a band off of this’.”
He brought the idea to his brother, Brian Grubb, who was a drummer. Before City of Parks, the Grubb brothers participated in another band. City of Parks originally started as the two of them in mid-2013. Then they started looking for a bassist, which led them to Olszowy.
They performed as a three-piece until Olszowy moved to playing guitar. It was then that Olszowy approached Boyster about becoming the new bassist. The four-piece that performs today was established in August 2014.
Olszowy said the band’s name is meant to pay homage to their hometown of Fenton, Mo.
“On a lot of the signs around Fenton, they say ‘[Welcome to] Fenton: City of Parks,’” Olszowy said. “There are a lot of parks around Fenton, some in unlikely places, which gives it that name.”
The songs Dan wrote were acoustic songs. However, when the Grubbs started the band, they turned the songs into pop-punk songs, adding electric guitar, bass and drums to the arrangements.
“It [pop-punk] is what we’ve been listening to for a long time,” Dan said.
The pop-punk bands that influenced City of Parks’ style include A Day to Remember, Bayside, Alkaline Trio, Against Me!, New Found Glory and Senses Fail, to name a few.
Boyster said getting a brand new band off the ground and into the public eye starts by getting one’s own name out there, going to shows to meeting other bands and, eventually, performing alongside those bands at their shows.
This past May, the band performed at Pointfest, the outdoor rock music festival held once a year by St. Louis rock station 105.7 The Point. It was held at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater and featured rock bands such as Breaking Benjamin and Seether. The festival has been around since 1993.
The band performed in the Battle for Pointfest, a battle of the bands competition for local acts to try to get into the festival. They won the pop-punk edition of the battle and performed on Pop’s Stage, one of four stages at the festival.
“We worked really hard to get there,” Boyster said.
Boyster said he was weary about a battle for the bands competition when presented with the idea, but the other members wanted to give it a shot.
The next order of business for City of Parks is to compete once again to perform on the Pointfest stage.
The big release
One of the band’s first goals was to make a debut album. The making of the album took a year, with recording being done.
The album, Don’t Worry, I’ll Be Fine, was released Nov. 27 with copies being sold at The Demo, a rock bar located in The Grove in St. Louis. They debuted the album in a show alongside bands Inimical Drive, Monster Eats Manhattan and Apollo’s Daughter.
The album will eventually be released on iTunes and other online outlets. It contains 11 tracks written by members of the band.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Brian Grubb said.
They worked with other people when it came to mixing the album, saying a lot of “back and forth” happened to make the album. The long process was something that almost got to them, especially on the first day of recording. It took nine hours to do one song.
“We went big,” Boyster said. “We learned patience and we just held on.”
The title of the album is meant to signify an internal struggle with oneself, the band said. The title is a response given to others who notice that struggle. A lot of the inspiration for the album came from the original songs written by Dan Grubb.
“All of us have something personal in this album,” Brian Grubb said.
One of the songs, “026,” was written by Olszowy about his experiences and frustrations growing up in Fenton. The lyrics deal with those frustrations, especially the people he grew up alongside.
“A lot of people who live in Fenton, they despise it there,” Olszowy said.
The song is meant to combat those negative perceptions with a more positive outlook on the town, the band said.
Boyster said eventually, he would like to take the band to other cities around the nation.
“You can only do so much at one town,” Boyster said.
Boyster said the popularity the band achieved within its first year went beyond expectations.
“We were going for a snowball, but what we did this year was like an avalanche to us,” Boyster said.