Roots of rock: Midvalley residents moving up in the music world

From left, Maguas band members Brandon Ossont, Matt Jenkins, Erik Miller, Daulton Rissinger and Luke Prusinski.

A rock band with roots in Northeastern Pennsylvania is on the rise.

The Maguas, an emo-punk rock group originating from the Archbald area, formed two and a half years ago — and they have big dreams for the future.

The band consists of Matt Jenkins and Daulton Rissinger on guitar, Luke Prusinski on bass, Brandon Ossont on drums and Erik Miller as the lead vocalist. The band’s name originated from former band member Tommy Smith, whose siblings called themselves the title after Magua, the main antagonist of “The Last of the Mohicans.” The band kept this name after Smith left because they felt it was unique.

The members of this band first met in grade school, some as far back as kindergarten. All are graduates of Valley View High School, where they first gathered to make music together.

“It’s so much easier to be creative and write songs since we all grew up together,” Rissinger said. “Many bands have had to deal with in-fighting and stuff, but we just love being around each other.”

Originally a group of seven members in high school, Miller one day texted the entire group about the possibility of making their band official. Two members of the band dropped out, but the remaining five were on board. While the Maguas originally planned to be a cover band, the members proved to be talented songwriters. When they performed an original song live for the first time, they got an overwhelmingly positive reception. They decided to keep writing songs of their own.

The members learned to play instruments in grade school. Rissinger got a guitar when he was younger and first started taking lessons with John Yzkanin. Falling in love with playing the instrument, Rissinger convinced Jenkins to save up for a cheap guitar and learn the instrument himself in seventh grade, taking lessons from the same instructor. Prusinski, originally a high-pitched singer, learned bass in order to have a way to hit lower notes. Miller has been a skilled singer since his school days, even attending PMEA District Choir festivals while in high school. Ossont got his first drum set in fifth grade and taught himself how to play.

After graduating high school and deciding to get serious about being a rock band, they started to take more of a business-like approach to making music. At the start, they used Jenkins’ in-home studio to record new songs. But in order to grow, one of the band’s first steps was to hire an official recording studio.

The Maguas also took a strategic approach to reaching the people who want to listen to their music. The band has their own Facebook page to communicate with their fans and released all of their songs digitally through their official Spotify account. They consider their followers very valuable, almost important as the band members themselves.

“One of the greatest feelings in the world is knowing that someone overseas in the UK is waiting for your next song,” Rissinger said. “I still can’t even wrap my head around that.”

The band plans to release some new songs in November and a new record is slated for December. They will also be touring with two other alternative rock groups — The Safest Ledge and Dear Spring — in November in Philadelphia and Baltimore. They are super excited for this tour, but have their fingers crossed that the resurgence in COVID-19 cases doesn’t shut it down entirely.

Closer to home, the Maguas will be touring around the East Coast this month, with a show at Scranton’s Stage West scheduled for Oct. 15. On Dec. 17, they will perform at the Railyard in Scranton. The band is already planning concerts for next summer, too.

Although they are excited for their new releases and the future of the band, they understand how much must be poured into it for the group to succeed.

“If people really want to take this seriously, they’ll find that it’s unrelenting,” Ossont said. “You have to really be creative and passionate towards what you want to do. If you really believe in what you’re after, keep going after it.”

Recommended for you