The Wag

The Upbeat, Harmonious Story

The Wag's style is emotionally balanced, psychedelic and vocally harmonious. Their songs are upbeat, with catchy melodies and hopping guitar riffs. While many of today's airwaves are filled with music that is either dark and brooding or overly bouncy and danceable, this band has developed a sound that is original and in the middle ground.

Clearly inspired by the hippie movement of the 60's, their music mixes some of the great folk and acid rock sounds of that era. The band formed as the result of an "Aquarian" ad in September of 1998. The ad said the band was looking for people with the same ambitions and who listened to REM, the Beatles and Alanis Morissette. In December of 1998, they played their first gig at Long Branch's Brighton Bar. "It was nerve wracking for me," said keyboardist/vocalist Alicia Van Sant. "It was my first time."

The band's list of places played grew after a few years of existence. The Wag has appeared at venues including Hooligan's, the Saint, the Broadway Central Cafè, Birch Hill, The Stone Pony and Club Bene. They now play a monthly gig every Thursday night at Red Bank's Internet Cafè.

The highlight of the band's short and growing career was looking out into the crowd and seeing the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, bopping his head to their songs. At last summer's Clearwater Festival in Asbury Park, Springsteen decided to show his support for the festival by dropping in with his acoustic guitar and performing some of his more inspiring songs. He did this during the Wag's time slot, but the band didn't seem to mind waiting a little while to go on. Bassist/vocalist Brian Ostering heard Springsteen announce for any of the show's performers to join him on stage and did just that. "I figured what the heck and got on stage," he said. Van Sant (no relation to Springsteen's bandmate, that's Van Zandt) gave Springsteen a CD and asked him to return for the band's set. He did so and seemed enthusiastic about what he heard.

The band plays many benefits along the shore and makes it a point to stay active in the causes they stand for. "We all care about the environment," said guitarist Dan Corboy. "We love doing benefits."

The Wag work together to create a pop/rock sound that is upbeat, but not sappy. Their CD, "Eighteen Months," is filled with high energy, thought-out songs. According to drummer Brian Mowery, Corboy and Ostering will put the first ideas on the table, working together to attack different musical styles. Corboy usually depends on Ostering to fill in the gaps of his songs.

The theme of their lyrics is sometimes known before the song is written and other times develops through the songwriting process. Their strength is an ability to harmonize. "Our main focus in the band is our vocals," said Ostering. "We try to write songs that have a nice hook and melody." Of course, having a good time is also a focal point. The Wag's vibrant appeal draws everyone from kids to senior citizens to their shows. "We try to have fun," said Ostering.

Said Van Sant, "If you don't have fun doing it, why do it?"

Josh Davidson
Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.
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