Almost famous, somewhat planned
When most people dream about Friday night entertainment to wind down the work week, local residents Justin Conji, Justin Kripaitis, Nick Rodriguez, Sean White and Justin Zambo tune up to be that entertainment. These young men make up the hopeful musicians of Blind Ambition, a self-described alternative music band that has dreams of one day headlining as national talent.
But unlike musicians in mythical stories glamorizing the rock-and-roll life, Blind Ambition has yet to quit their day jobs.
While many struggling rock musicians might live lives of fantasized poverty in order to practice solely on their music, Blind Ambition band members live in the real world. Conji, a pizza place manager; Kripaitis, a gas station cashier; Rodriguez, a credit card company employee; White, a fast-food restaurant employee; and Zambo, an air conditioning specialist have very real jobs.
But these men are not sorry for having day jobs.
“It pays the bills,” Rodriguez, Blind Ambition’s guitarist, said. “It gives me a comfort level and lets me eat every day.”
Kripaitis, the band’s lead vocalist, said he admittedly takes pride in his work.
“It’s easy and it gives me free time,” Kripaitis said. “I get away with murder here, and I get to piss people off.”
And while some customers in Kripaitis’ customer line might take him seriously, most customers tend to reciprocate and appreciate his energetic sense of humor.
“He’s a flamboyant cashier to talk to compared to other cashiers,” customer Chris Fain said.
However joking Blind Ambition members might be about their day jobs, they do anything but joke about their “night job” that is seemingly less glamorous.
Rodriguez says he and his fellow band members spend hours of free time practicing their music, writing lyrics, making promotional materials, producing demo soundtracks, emailing fans and trying to get public recognition and radio airplay. Despite all this work, the band doesn’t get paid. Instead, they work in order to live out their dream as hopeful professional musicians.
“We get no money,” Blind Ambition’s drummer Zambo said. “We get no chicks and we’re broke. But we love to play.”
The young hopefuls who range in age from 21 to 32 said the payoff for them is also getting to perform and feel almost famous for a moment.
“It’s fun,” bass guitarist Conji said. “We get to dance and be on top for 45 minutes to an hour. We love being on stage.”
And the band’s hard work and harder dreams have started to pay off. In its toddler phase, Blind Ambition placed second in Dallas’ 2003 Battle of the Bands competition. The contest earned the band free professional studio time where they recorded their current CD that they sell at live shows and by correspondence with fans.
Their album entitled RockPopReggaeFunkPunk offers lyrics and music reminiscent of Stone Temple Pilots, Godsmack, the Nixons and Pearl Jam when they were good. But despite the fact that Blind Ambition sounds similar to past bands, their music and lyrics are also an original mix of soul and depth missing from today’s popular music.
“We want (our music) to be open to different crowds,” Rodriguez said. “We’re tired of metal music or growling, screaming vocals.”
On stage Aug. 6, Blind Ambition played for a crowd of eclectic people ranging in age from 21 to 50 at the Curtain Club in Dallas’ Deep Ellum.
While the band’s vocals and energetic but soulful instrumentals filled the dark walls of the club with life, the crowd of people from McKinney and as far as Iowa rocked their bodies and were entertained by Kripaitis’ onstage antics.
“I like it when they play on a regular night like this,” Curtain Club employee Lynn Nicholson said. “I know the band is good and won’t play cover songs.”
From day time workers to night time semi-stars, Blind Ambition’s dreams have a visible future.
“I plan on making it with music,” Kripaitis said. “Luckily, I have my band members to help me as long as I don’t get my head caught up my butt.”