It’s been almost exactly a year ago since I was pulled into The Red Lion waiting for its infamous booming rave music to hit me in the face like a brick wall, but to my surprise however, that night the DJ booth was empty and whether The Red Lion’s patrons remember it or not, we got to listen to real music. The Ars Nova is a funk and blues infused rock n roll jam band made up of lead vocalist and guitarist Ryan Ferm, vocalist and guitarist Dylan Lovering, bass guitarist Tony Petrucci, and drummer Jon Battaglia. Since that night that I was lucky enough to stumble upon them, the group has moved on to much bigger shows such as playing to a full house at the Chicago House of Blues, and last year’s Summer Camp Music Festival, and things are only looking up for The Ars Nova.
In true rock n roll fashion, the band started in a shitty basement in 2011 while all four members were students at the University of Illinois. Each member had at least 10 years of prior music experience individually, and after one night of jamming out it was clear that they meshed well together. After bassist Tony Petrucci and guitarist Ryan Ferm learned about Ars Nova, latin for “New Art,” in a music class, the name clicked and The Ars Nova band was born.
The band started out with a more blues rock n roll sound. “It was easiest to pick up but hardest to be good at” said Petrucci, “but now we’re venturing into more of jam band style, just rock n roll other than blues.” Petrucci said the band’s sound is influenced by artists such as Kings of Leon (whom they played as at The Great Cover-Up), Red Hot Chili Peppers and Led Zeppelin. Although Petrucci still resides in Champaign and the rest of the members are in Chicago, the distance hasn’t stopped them from continuing to make music. With at least 30 original songs now, The Ars Nova has plans to get into the recording studio and release a new album by the end of this year, if not sooner.
When it comes to the live performance The Ars Nova prides themselves on their improvisational jams. The spontaneity is what sets them apart from any other band. “Sometimes we don’t know exactly where it’s going to go so we kind of keep people guessing. None of our songs really sound the same as one another, you’re not going get bored at our show and think oh my god I feel like this is the same song they played for the last song — it’s always different” said Petrucci. Although the band members still have to answer to jobs and “the real world” outside of music Petrucci said they would be willing to take that huge terrifying leap to dedicating all of their time to music, if the right opportunity presented itself. If things keep looking up, who knows? Maybe this next album will be the next big break.
You can catch The Ars Nova at Memphis on Main this upcoming Saturday.