Alma Mater Plays Stripped Down Hometown Show 

Wilkes-Barre Alt Rock band Alma Mater graced the Special Guest App office with a private performance on November 30th.

The band, founded by longtime friends, Jerry Maloney and Vinny Amarando, has been consistently active in the local scene since they got their start in early 2016.  After writing their first set of songs primarily in basements and dorm rooms, Maloney and Amarando decided to bring in two additional members, guitarist/vocalist Jon Higgins and bassist Ryan Gruttadauria.

Alma Mater’s first EP, Cloud Cover, consists of six songs that range in structure while still maintaining a cohesive sound.  Mastered by Joe Loftus of fellow NEPA bands Esta Coda and University Drive (the latter of which I’m personally a huge fan of), Cloud Cover proves to be the solid debut that any up-and-coming local band would hope to have.

Alma Mater’s Set on the Special Guest Stage

They opened their set with “Lightheaded”, the first track off of Cloud Cover.  The combination of Amarando’s strong vocals and the song’s angsty tone solidifies their status as a local band to look out for.  As a whole, their stage presence is earnest and unguarded, and you can tell they pour every ounce of heart and soul into their music.  They ended their set with “Speechless”, their most recently released song to date.  Alma Mater’s vibe parallels several other local bands, so their songs will fit seamlessly into your daily mix, if you’re already a fan of that emo/alt-rock sound.

Catching up with the Band

I had the opportunity to chat with Maloney after Alma Mater’s set at Special Guest, which he says was “an interesting change of pace” compared to typical live performances.  “We thought it was awesome,” said Maloney.  “We hope to have more opportunities to work with the team and app in the future.”

This past October, the band released their sophomore effort in the form of a split with Scranton-based band Permanence.  Two tracks from the split, “Speechless” and “Rose”, are available for streaming on Alma Mater’s Bandcamp page.  Maloney cites NEPA natives Title Fight and The Menzingers as influences, as well as Green Day and Taking Back Sunday.  “It’s a pretty long list,” Maloney says.  “Between the four of us, we have a wide span of musical influences that will probably contribute to our future material.”

What’s Next

As for what’s next for the band, Maloney admits they don’t necessarily have an end goal, but are focusing their energy on writing more music.  “We just recently started writing music for our second EP, so we’ll probably be focused a little more on that going into the new year.  We’re definitely excited to just write new music and try to travel outside of NEPA to play shows.”

Check Alma Mater out on their Facebook page,

Alma Mater is just one of many bands that will be appearing on the Special Guest demo stage in the upcoming months.  You can find bands like Alma Mater, as well as other acts, including comedians and magicians, on the Special Guest app.