“Are all ‘green rooms’ actually green?” Infinity frontman Ryan Howie asks rhetorically as he emerges from the band room at Connie’s Ric Rac. Decked with a brown plaid sofa right out of an episode of Sanford and Son and with walls covered with stickers and hand-drawn logos from previous bands, Connie’s green room is a rite-of-passage for Philadelphia musicians. The owners call the décor “unpretentious,” which might be an overstatement, but the band members are too busy eating their Geno’s steaks and discussing music to even notice.
But as much as Connie’s harkens back to the time-honored pay-your-dues approach to making it in the music industry that is becoming a dying art, Infinity just might be laying out the blueprint for making it as a metal band in the modern social-media driven world. Formed by Howie and lead guitarist Ricky Sobel a little over a year ago with the vision of bringing metal back into the forefront of the modern music scene, this is only the band’s third live show and their first with an actual green room (both literally and figuratively). Despite their limited live experience, Infinity has been paying their dues in a more modern way – through social media.
For anyone over 30 social media means Facebook, but for anyone under 20 social media means Instagram as Facebook has been usurped by parents wanting to share vacation pictures. For the under 20 set, it is all about videos and live streaming.
While working on their first album, Howie and Sobel would post videos of themselves recording their new music, inviting feedback and slowly building an international following of (mostly teen) fans of their approach to modern metal.
It was actually through Instagram that they found Bobby Jeffers, their Delaware dwelling drummer, and Mike Cunningham, their bassist from another Philadelphia suburb. Once complete, the band would live-stream their practices, further building their fan base and preparing themselves for the live shows to follow. Their success on Instagram is already considerable, with over 15,000 fans worldwide. To put this into perspective, Infinity’s following is four times as large as local rock band Sheer Mag and already one-quarter as large as the breakout band Greta Van Fleet.
Just as Greta Van Fleet is fast becoming the successor to Led Zeppelin for blues-inspired rock, Infinity is aiming to lead the modern metal scene inspired by Metallica. “Metal has lost its way as bands no longer sing but just try to out-scream everyone else,” says Sobel, “We believe modern metal can be both heavy, fast, and still listenable.”
Infinity Is Here To Make A Mark
“Let’s wake these people up!” screams Jeffers as the band breaks out of its already ritualistic pre-set huddle and jumps on stage. They are younger than the other bands, as evidenced by the mark put on their hands by the bartender, and the audience is intrigued but expectations are low. As the band launches into “Prepare for Attack,” from their debut album The Beginning of the End, all eyes go to the stage. By the second song, the crowd is jamming along with the band while the lead singer from the opening band is pumping his fist with his left hand as he takes a video with his right. Infinity has his respect.
As the set ends, the band takes a bow to their new fans and reconvenes back in the green room. “We earned this,” says Cunningham as he artfully draws Infinity’s logo on the wall. Each member of the band then adds their names, a declaration that they have arrived on the Philly music scene.