Spotlight of the Week: Neon Bull


Mikey Saltzman

Neon Bull recording their first original song, “Fallin’ for You,” at DogManiac Recording Studios.

This week, Type One reached out to juniors Mikey Saltzman and Daniel Bolja and freshman Josh Perper, three members of the student band Neon Bull.  The band features Saltzman on drums, Bolja on guitar, and Perper on vocals, as well as juniors Niles Boothe, Mark Rozencwaig, and Drew Morris on piano, bass, and saxophone respectively.  During their live performance at the March 16th Sadie Hawkins Dance, the band played a number of covers along with senior Marissa Gallitis and I and debuted their first original song, “Fallin’ for You.”  Just two days later, they took a trip to DogManiac Recording Studios, where they recorded “Fallin’ for You,” and on March 20th, following an announcement at the Playing for Change concert, Neon Bull posted their song to SoundCloud, garnering over 1,000 listens within the first two days.

Now, you may be wondering, “Why ‘Neon Bull?’”  Drummer Mikey Saltzman explained to me the story behind the name.

“Once I was at a party with Niles Boothe (the band’s pianist), and the song “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar came on.  It was the first time I had heard the song, and I couldn’t understand what Kendrick was saying. I asked Niles what the song was called, and he told me to take a guess, since Kendrick repeats it over and over.  I said, ‘Neon Bull?’ and while I was clearly wrong, we thought it would be a pretty cool band name.”

Other band names, including “Commercial Boulevard,” were considered, but ultimately, after Saltzman took a survey around the school, “Neon Bull” won out. 

Saltzman has been playing the drums since third grade.  His older brothers had played the bass guitar and electric guitar, so he feels it was only fitting for him to take the path toward drums and round out the family band.  Other than drumming, he has a number of music-related hobbies, including collecting vinyl records.  On this, he said, “I have records from all the greats, like Bruce Springsteen, The Who, and Billy Joel.”  

Mark Rozencwaig
Mikey Saltzman playing the drum set in the recording studio for “Fallin’ for You.”

When asked to pick a favorite song of any he has performed, Saltzman went with “Cold Cold Man,” a song that he, Boothe, Bolja, Rosenzweig, Morris, and I covered at Sadie.  As to why, he explained, “I’ve always loved listening to Saint Motel, and I’ve seen them perform live three times, so it was cool to replicate what the drummer was doing.”

Saltzman also gave me some insight into his motivation to form the band and how the band came together.

“I wanted to create a band because I love both listening and playing music, and I wanted to make music of my own.  It all started with Daniel Bolja and I wanting to play music. Once we decided that we were going to start the band, we approached Niles Boothe about playing piano, and he was more than happy to do so.  Once we had a foundation of drums, guitar, and piano, we asked Mark, Drew, and Josh to complete the band and create a full sound.”

Junior Daniel Bolja, the band’s guitarist, is far from a one-trick-pony.  His first instrument was piano, but since then he’s picked up guitar and bass.  He now plays bass in the Upper School Jazz Band and has played guitar for about two-and-a-half years.  Elsewhere on campus, he is the Secretary of both the eSports Club and the Junior Class Board and is involved in Music Production within TSA; he also does volunteer work at his church.  

As for his favorite song to play, Bolja was conflicted, saying “It’s hard to decide between ‘Can’t Stop’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and ‘Sweet Child ‘O Mine’ by Guns and Roses,” both of which Bolja has mastered (see him play the introduction of “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” to the right of this paragraph).

Bolja also gave me a glimpse into the writing of “Fallin’ for You”, calling the process “more fluid than I thought it would be.”  He elaborated, “Mikey, Niles, and I kind of decided to jam in the band room one day, came up with a chord progression, and just started jamming on it.  A lot of what we came up with was spontaneous. If we played something we liked, we would record it in the Voice Memos of one of our phones. Once we put all of what we liked together, it was amazing.”  

Bolja admitted that the band had some difficulties, noting, “Lyrics weren’t easy to write, but it’s something we’re looking on improving in the future.”  He and Mikey wrote the lyrics for “Fallin’ for You” together via FaceTime, and when asked if the song was about anyone in particular, Bolja responded with a simple “Nope.”

Mark Rozencwaig
Josh Perper, Neon Bull’s lead singer, in the recording studio.

Lead singer Josh Perper is no stranger to the stage.  He is a thespian, is involved in the musicals, sang with the All-State Men’s Choir and the ACDA National Choir, and performed Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” during Playing for Change.  In his words, “I have been singing as long as I can remember. It’s always been the biggest passion of mine.” Outside of the classroom, Perper is the President of the Freshman Class, is involved with TSA, and was the man behind the panther mask during the football season.

Perper explained to me how he became involved, saying, “I was actually recruited to be the lead singer by Mikey Saltzman, the drummer.  I said yes, and we formed the best band in the world.”

Noting the over 1,000 SoundCloud listens in just two days, Perper explained, “The amount of love and support we have been receiving is incredible!”  And though the band came together very recently, Perper is excited about what is to come.

“Neon Bull has been amazing so far, and I look forward to writing more songs.  Right now, we are writing and producing the second song of our first album. When we release the album, fans will be able to listen to our songs via SoundCloud, Spotify, and iTunes, and we hope that Neon Bull can reach an extremely high level of success.”

The future looks bright for Neon Bull.  Be sure to follow their Instagram page (@neonbullofficial) and follow them on SoundCloud for updates.

Sources: Instagram, SoundCloud