ROXBURY, NJ – If there’s one thing most 18-year-olds know, it’s emotion. So if you’re like Michael Grant -- 18, and in a band that uses emotion as songwriting fuel -- you should never run out of gas.
Emotions are the raw material the young Roxbury musician mines when penning songs for The Emily Youth Project, a band that will make its public debut Friday at the Roxbury Performing Arts Center. The 7:30 p.m. free concert is a charity event: Those who come are asked to bring canned goods or donations for Roxbury Social Services.
“My songs are very emotionally driven,” said Grant. “They come from real-life experiences like anger, love, elation. These are feelings I try to convert to words and music and melody and create songs. For me, it’s very cathartic. Very therapeutic.”
The 2014 Roxbury High School graduate is now studying the music industry at Monmouth University. His partners in the band, 18-year-old Mount Olive residents Justin Murray and Jon Bass, also attend Monmouth.
Up until recently, the three were in a band called Ice House Gallery. They had to change the name when some members left, said Grant. The Emily Youth Project, named after a “really cool waitress we all had one time,” has no permanent drummer, but Roxbury High School Senior Bryan Miner will be sitting-in on the drums for Friday’s show.
“I play piano and I write songs and sing my own songs while playing the piano,” said Grant. “I grew up listening to Billy Joel, a lot of show tunes type stuff, Bruce Springsteen and Ben Folds. Their song influences can be found in my music.”
Grant conceded The Emily Youth Project is a work in progress. “It’s still very new,” he said. “We’re still working out the kinks and ironing out our sound. We lost a drummer and a guitarist and we’re playing new material specifically written for the new band. We’re trying to reinvent ourselves.”
Grant, who says the show will last about an hour, has great memories of his time at Roxbury High, especially the music program. “The music program is just astounding,” he said. “It’s one-of-a-kind and anyone who goes through those programs … is just beyond lucky to have such great mentors and such a supportive board of education that gets behind the music program.”