Do you know how to balance being half of an acoustic rock band and a high school senior at the same time? Alex Haff and Josh Opitz do.
Haff and Opitz began playing together close to three years ago, forming a
two-person band which plays both original and cover songs.
“We both agree that it is important to keep the songs modern, and to
do this, we are playing a lot of acoustic covers of songs you hear on
the radio,” said Haff, the singer and guitar player of the band.
Opitz agreed with Haff, saying they pick their “favorite catchy songs and turn them into our own.”
They both find inspiration and influence from artists such as Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer and Rob Thomas.
For originals songs, Opitz said Haff usually starts the process by creating a guitar riff.
“We go over what we like and don’t like,” said Opitz, who plays the
drums and other percussion instruments. “I throw some drums onto it, and
then comes the lyrical melody followed by the lyrics.”
Although Opitz said the revision process takes time, it does not compare to the time both musicians spent learning how to play.
Haff said he started playing cello in sixth grade but discovered his
love for music after purchasing a guitar at the beginning of high
“I taught myself to play guitar, and for a while, it was just a
hobby,” said Haff. “This year, I began to formally learn guitar, taking
jazz guitar lessons and playing guitar in the Shen Jazz Ensemble.”
Along with jazz guitar lessons, Haff takes vocal lessons and attends
songwriting master classes and workshops all to improve his
performances and songwriting.
Opitz began his musical career playing the drums at the age of nine thanks to his fascination with beats and rhythms.
“It was in the fifth grade when band sign ups came about, and I was
focused on becoming a percussionist,” said Opitz. “To this day, I
practice for at least two hours before the night is over, just picking
up on anything I get my ears on.”
Opitz has played piano for six years while also playing a multitude
of percussion such as mallet, hand and world percussion. He hopes to
take guitar and vocal lessons over the summer to add to the two-man duo.
While both Opitz and Haff have played mainly at local events such as
the 2011 Respect Arts Festival and the Irish Fest (twice), they both
have good memories of performing together.
“One of the first (performances) took place at the 2011 Respect Arts
Festival,” said Opitz. “After the 15-minute set, the audience reaction
was amazing. Right then was when we both realized that we really had
something exciting under our belts.”
And that something under their belts has become an acoustic EP called “Living Room Sessions” which the two recorded last year.
Both Haff and Opitz hope this is only the beginning and that more
opportunities will keep coming their way as they head off to college.
Haff will study music technology at New York University, and Opitz will study music industry at the College of Saint Rose.
“I am going to continue music for the rest of my life,” said Opitz.
“I plan to keep learning more and more and learn from as many musicians
as possible. My goal would to be to just keep playing shows and see what
Were you at the performance last Friday? What did you think? Are you excited for any of the upcoming First Friday events?