Get to know Fall Fest performer PUBLIC


Alex Taglieri

By: Alex Taglieri 

From touring with Jesse McCartney to filming its first music video, PUBLIC has been making huge leaps this year. Next, the band will stop in Hamden on September 15 to open for AJR at this year’s Fall Fest concert.

The band members spoke to Q30 Entertainment to prep students on their sound and their history as a group before the weekend’s show.

While two of the band members, John Vaughn and Ben Lapps, have known each other since kindergarten, forming a band wasn’t always their plan. When they met Matt Alvarado in high school jazz orchestra, the pair were simply “jamming” together in Lapps’s basement, picking up new instruments such as the guitar and drums.

However, everything fell into place when they began working with Alvarado, who immediately crafted basslines for the pair’s songs.

“It just completely put the cherry on top. And it was a pretty instant connection,” Vaughn said.

For the members of PUBLIC, figuring out the band’s signature sound has been a long process since they started recording music. While the trio joke that they play “heavy metal yodel rap,” their sound is (thankfully) much less eclectic, falling somewhere between the rock and pop genres.

“We have pop songwriting but we play like a live rock band,” Vaughn said.

Alvarado compared the songwriting aspect to bands like Maroon 5 and The Killers, while noting that the performance side is more similar to Muse.

Their influences extend far beyond these modern recording artists, though. Alvarado infuses funk into the band’s music, while Lapps draws from his favorite band, Earth, Wind & Fire. Vaughn even finds his inspiration in film scores, creating romantic and dramatic moments in PUBLIC’s songs.

“I think the cool thing is that we don’t stick to one formula for songs… Everything is really diverse in sound, and I think that builds dimension to a pop band like us, where everything won’t be the same formula, same sound each time.” Alvarado said.

This unique sound has drawn the attention of pop artists and alternative bands alike, leading to performances with Young the Giant, Judah and the Lion and most recently, Jesse McCartney.

“I think [touring with Jesse McCartney] solidified for us that our favorite thing right now it definitely playing for people who don’t know us,” Vaughn said. “Having to prove to an audience that’s there for someone else that you can help them have a good time, I just think that’s so fun. And I used to be scared of it, but I’m not anymore.”

Fearless definitely sums up this band, who have an unexpected surprise woven into their Fall Fest set in the form of a Britney Spears cover.

“Every time these three guys go into a Britney Spears song, it always takes people by surprise and really gets them paying attention to us, and I love that moment,” Lapps said.

Next up for the band is its first headlining show at the Mercury Lounge in New York City, as well as the release of the official music video for “One That I Want.”

Between their work with companies like Pandora, Disney and Nickelodeon Radio who have all shared PUBLIC’s music, their fan base just keeps getting bigger. One thing is for sure- this band won’t be an opening act for long.