Stepping into West Chester University’s music program as a major for voice, student Ed Allison’s steady diet of Patent Pending and Fall Out Boy could not have possibly prepared him for the exponential growth he would soon undergo, transforming him into the multi-genre, multi-instrumentalist he is today, consistently covering ground from pop to R&B to a capella to video game music. The weekly schedule for this West Chester junior includes singing for West Chester University’s Mastersingers ensemble, as well as in two separate a capella groups: the co-ed Under a Rest as well as the all-male tour de force the Suspensions. Aside from contributing vocals, he also plays drums and percussion in local experimental rock band House of Shunyata. The question clearly worth examining is as follows: what kind of trajectory must one musician follow to have so many bases covered simultaneously?
Ed Allison’s formative years as a musician began when he was a young middle school student, forming Bored Out of Our Minds, a metal band, with his two friends, percussionist Nate Beuschlein and bassist Ian Young as well as his brother and guitarist / vocalist Louis Allison in their hometown of East York, Pa. While the boys quickly changed their genre to a guitar-laden and bass-driven pop punk, they would proceed to write a slew of songs together that they would play at local venues during their entire high school career. Perhaps the most impressive feat Bored accomplished was one of dedication, as its members were committed enough to each other as band to finish their last shows this past summer.
Aside from his main project in a band, Allison would record solo songs and covers on his own in his spare time, a practice that, while done sparsely, is still a part of his workload today. This is where his expansive palette as a musician shines the most, working on everything from an a capella arrangement of Bruno Mars’ “Gorilla” to a rock mash-up of the themes from popular Nickelodeon television shows “Drake and Josh” and “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide.”
Considering influences and favorite artists is vital when considering Ed as a composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist. Some of his favorite musicians include comedian “Weird” Al Yankovich, video game composer Grant Kirkehope, pop punk band Fall Out Boy, and metal band System of a Down. These influences can be seen in a preference for thicker guitar tones and fast-paced drums, but also the occasional dabbling of synthesizers governed by the overall demeanor of a musician that loves to have fun, a trait that years of training and practice do not at all interfere with.
September 2013 saw the release of Sydney Failure, the first full-length Allison had released under his name alone. In its roughly half-hour run time, Sydney managed to cap off Allison’s freshman year of college by showcasing a hodgepodge of genres and instrumental talents, from the bossa nova bass of “Max Beaver” to the extended jam sessions of the molten metal closer “For the Love of Lawyers.” This collection of tracks skyrocketed him to his sophomore year at West Chester, where joining the Suspensions and later Under a Rest, two of the school’s a capella groups, took his control and technique as a vocalist to even higher levels.
Currently, Ed plans on finishing his last three semesters as a music education major and will then go to teach either chorus or drumline at the high school level. His current level of musicianship is a blend of classical training with pop vocal styles that is pulled off with finesse.
Needless to say, settling down with a full-time job as an instructor will not stop this musician from continuing to venture off onto his own, learning and playing new styles of music as often as he can.
Jeffrey Holmes is a third-year student double majoring in English and philosophy. He can be reached JH791223@wcupa.edu.