A recently formed student punk band on campus named “The Shipping Department” is gaining momentum and popularity at the University of Rhode Island.
“The Shipping Department” is composed of three musically inclined freshman URI students: Collin O’Connor, Sebastian Toledo and Joe Milia. All three members are well versed in the music scene and are passionate about having fun while making music.
O’Connor and Toledo met at orientation over the summer, while O’Connor worked at a shipping department and thought the title would be a sick name for a band. Over the summer they had the first iteration as “The Shipping Department.” They began in the basement of Toledo’s mom’s house, playing covers of “Mom Jeans” songs. After that, they decided to room together at URI.
During the first few days at URI, Toledo and O’Connor were playing in their dorm room and happened to leave their doors open due to the sweltering weather. With their doors open, people from their floor in Browning Hall came crowding around outside their room in their hallway, filtering in and out. O’Connor and Toledo said that it felt as though they were hosting their own surprise gig. Helping them gain popularity with URI students, the two came to the conclusion they needed a drummer for their band and immediately put up posters all around campus advertising their need for a third bandmate.
At URI’s Musicians Guild meeting, they met Milia. After discovering that Milia was a fan of “The White Stripes,” they decided to make a song right then and there– a cover from the “The White Stripes.” Having the latest slot for the open mic night at the musicians guild, they practiced a cover of a song from “The White Stripes” for five minutes and performed it with a great response. The next week the three of them played as “The Shipping Department” and began cranking out content, writing two songs in less than two hours.
In November they played their first show on campus with approximately 40 people in the crowd, a much larger turnout from any of their other performances. “After we got off everyone greeted us with open arms, it was really good,” said O’Connor.
Although “The Shipping Department’s” past songs and performances are homebrewed voice memos, Toledo has been working on being the public relations manager of the band and is getting a stronghold on future shows. “It’s basically networking when it comes to house shows,” said Toledo. “I’m right now trying to get ‘The Shipping Department’ into the house show circuit which you gotta know a guy who knows a guy to get into the community. House shows feel much more intimate, for me, they have a special place. When a band is going crazy, they’re inviting you to get crazy with them. It’s just really welcoming.”
The most difficult problem the band has come across is figuring out logistics, such as finding spaces to practice, which Toledo said should be solved next semester after he officially changes his major to Musical Composition and will have access to a practice room in the Fine Arts Center. “We’re The Leach Department right now,” O’Connor joked in response.
“The Shipping Department” expects to have their album out by the beginning of next semester. They are currently stockpiling, making songs, and will be in the recording studio throughout winter break.
“On a mushy and serious note, we’re just three buds making tunes,” said O’Connor about his bandmates. “They’re just two of my favorite people having instruments in their hands making music.”
Follow @theshippingdepartment on Instagram for updates on shows, alternative band names, and to view them following their motto: “Have fun, be loud, and screw around.”