The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN student band Papafish works to make a name for themselves

Papafish, a CSUN student band, may seem typical – they love playing music together, they have chemistry, they hope to be playing music forever and they understand that failure comes before success. But, when saxophonist Brian Tran starts singing Shanghai Opera during an interview and guitarist Greg Menjivar wants to expose his chest in every band picture, Papafish proves to be unique.

“I once heard Nick Hexum, the vocalist and guitarist of 311, say in an interview something along the lines of ‘If I can tell you anything about making it as a band that will tell you otherwise, then you won’t make it,’” Menjivar said. “You can’t take no for an answer. That has been my driving force for Papafish.”

The name “Papafish” came from a pair of pajama pants that vocalist Nancy Pride was wearing on vacation with Menjivar. The pants had fish all over them and the fish only had one eye. They started experimenting with different names, including “Blind Fish,” but realized it was taken by another band.

“We just started putting different words in front of ‘fish,’” Menjivar said. “We tried ‘Dogfish,’ ‘Daddyfish,’ ‘Papafish’ and Nancy is the only one who really liked ‘Papafish,’ so she kept talking about it and it eventually stuck with us.”

The members of Papafish, vocalist Nancy Pride, 21, a psychology major; guitarist Greg Menjivar, 21, a multimedia major; saxophonist Brian Tran, 22, a graduating film major; bassist Dante Chocano, 24, a graduating business marketing major; and drummer Sam Sobo, 20, a music major, came together during the Fall 2009 semester after playing together the first half of the year in the dorms and decided to form a band.

Menjivar said he was eager to pull the band together.

“We really did not have a distinct sound in the beginning,” Sobo said. “We were literally just playing whatever until we found something.”

Papafish’s sound essentially became reggae patterns, fused with rock, punk elements and ska (a fast-paced reggae style).

“None of us listen to the same genre of music,” Sobo said. “All of us liking a different genre of music is what gave us our sound. The band started because of the love of playing music and just evolved from there.”

Music is considered a collaborative art, Tran said.

“For a band to work, there has to be chemistry,” Chocano said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the best drummer or the best guitarist. Being the best soloist isn’t going to make a band good.”

Every good idea comes from another, Pride said.

“If we sound like something else or we act like someone else, it’s not done on purpose,” Pride said. “We’ll go to concerts and get ideas on how to work the crowd and be confident, but it’s not copying.”

As a band, Papafish does not emulate any other band’s image as their own, Menjivar said.

“When I’m on stage, I feel like I’m Ritchie Blackmore from Deep Purple,” Menjivar said. “That’s how I want to play and that’s the feeling I like.”

Papafish realized in the short time they have been together that nobody is willing to give handouts. Through the hardships they felt of deceiving and jealous friends, which led to having a distrust in others, Papafish still believes that to succeed is to never hold back.

“There are thousands of millions of bands,” Menjivar said. “Nobody is looking for you.”

Every industry has its own worries and fears.

“The scary thing about the music industry is that it’s scary,” Menjivar said. “I’m constantly thinking ‘Will you make it? Did I just waste my time?’ But, you have to risk it.”

Everyone is now in a band, Menjivar said. The line between who has substance and who is just in a band can be quite narrow and taking that risk will determine it, he added.

“You can never stop,” Chocano said. “When you think you’ve reached where you want to, there’s someone who is doing something else and better than you, so you have to keep pushing forward.”

There’s a lot of repetitiveness in making music, Pride said.

“It’s come to the point now that we don’t even have to look at each other anymore,” Pride said. “We just know. We repeat until it meets our own standards.”

The advice that Papafish keeps repeating over and over again is the importance of not being afraid to take a risk.

“If you really want something, you can’t have a fall-back (career),” Tran said of making it in the industry. “You can’t have a Plan B if you really want it.”

Sobo said it’s better to take things a step at a time and not look too far down the line.

The biggest accomplishment for Papafish in the year they have been together is being called to play at a venue instead of making the calls themselves.

“In reality, we haven’t accomplished anything,” Pride said. “But for us, it’s everything.”

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