Bubbly and vibrant, Montclair State University student Christine Tanko lives for music, so much so that she created a girl band with her friends, titled “Girlband.”
Tanko, Girlband’s bass player, became involved in music at a very young age. Her earliest memory entails singing along with Pat Benatar as she played “Guitar Hero” at five years old. By her middle school years, she was involved in her school’s choir, musical theatre and band programs.
She is now a junior attending Montclair State working toward a bachelor’s in music education and a master’s in teaching students with disabilities. One of Tanko’s required courses is titled Pop Ensemble, also known as the birthplace of Girlband.
What started as two best friends songwriting together for fun remarkably turned into a real band. After being assigned to create musical groups in her Pop Ensemble class, Tanko and her friend approached a few classmates. With three new members on board, Girlband became a reality, forming in September of 2022.
Tanko recalled how the band came to be.
“We were like, ‘O.M.G., how funny would it be if we had a band but it was literally just called Girlband,” Tanko said. “Like no questions asked, just like the dumbest name ever. We loved it.”
Taking place every Friday in the basement of Russ Hall, a typical rehearsal for Girlband is very collaborative. According to the bass player, the group’s creative process consists mainly of trial and error when curating their sets, which consist of covers as well as original songs.
“I brought [my original song] to the band,” Tanko said. “I played what I could play on the instrument I wrote it on, and then it was kind of like, ‘You know your own instruments. Bring your expertise to my song,’ and then we just workshop it there.”
Tanko’s bandmates, such as guitarist and vocalist Alexa Tabbacchino, a junior recording arts and production major, have only love to share for their fellow entertainer.
“The best part about working with [Tanko] is that she’s not only a fabulous musician, she is a forever friend,” Tabbacchino said. “There is nothing better than making music with wonderful people who love music as much as you do.”
At its core, Girlband is built on friendship, as expressed by drummer Allie Volltrauer, a sophomore theatre studies major.
“The support, love and encouragement I have received from my bandmates has made me feel more whole than I ever have,” Volltrauer said. “And I don’t think I’d be nearly as content and happy as I am finishing off my sophomore year if it wasn’t for these girls and our band. #GirlbandForever.”
By the end of October, they had their first public performance at Montclair State’s amphitheater with the Pop Ensemble. The group then booked their first independent gig by the start of 2023, playing at Crossroads in Garwood, NJ. They also performed live on 90.3 WMSC’s “Unplugged” on Feb. 9.
Though Tanko is grateful for the beneficial learning curve the music group has been for her and is hopeful for what’s to come, the future for Girlband is uncertain. As active students in the John J. Cali School of Music, all five of the members have a lot on their plates. Girlband poses as a carefree, creative outlet to produce music in a social setting without any pressure.
“We’re kind of just like hanging out and about and messing around locally,” Tanko said. “But after that, who knows?”