By BRIANNA FARULLA
He had been at band practice for the past five hours. After months of recording, Time Will Tell’s debut full-length album is finally complete. This means that it is time for them to master the new set that they will play on a worldwide tour this upcoming summer. Their goal is to impress their current fans, while gaining even more.
When Mike Zamani got home he sat on his bed, dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt. He and his mother Diana Zamani, 53, discussed his stage presence. Zamani was exhausted and the last thing he wanted to hear was her constructive criticism in regards to his performing.
“Don’t keep turning to the amplifier. It’s not good,” said Diana. “You do that too much.”
“I do that to check my levels mom,” said Zamani in an annoyed tone.
“Check your levels once and move away,” laughed Diana.
The criticism, however, has no affect on him. Zamani is finally at a good place in his life. His journey up until now though, was far from easy.
“There were constant ups and downs,” he said. “It was very stressful at times but I found out a lot about who I am as a person.”
With a weak economy and tuition prices on the rise, more and more families are finding it nearly impossible to send their children to college and Zamani’s was one of them. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2011, 75 percent of people said that these institutions were unaffordable.
Zamani, 20, of Lyndhurst, discovered that college would not be an option for him after receiving his high school diploma in 2010. His dream of attending Full Sail University in hopes of pursuing a career in film-making was crushed.
As he watched his friends go on to their ideal schools he refused to let himself get discouraged. He was a creative kid who did not need a college degree in order to achieve success. Between music and YouTube skits, he knew there was hope for him.
“Not everything is taught in school,” said Diana. “He has to go with what’s in him and if he could do that without college, then that’s great.”
That’s exactly what Zamani did, he went with what was in him.
Once Zamani got his hands on a drum set at 11 years old, he knew he would not stop there. By 12 he was already on to the next instrument. After six months of taking guitar lessons, he taught himself how to play.
Zamani had an ear for music and fell in love with rock when he purchased his first CD by Blink 182. He grew up listening to bands like Greenday, Taking Back Sunday and Brand New. Zamani idolized each and every member, hoping to someday be able to sell hit records just like them.
“It really seemed like something I could see myself doing for the rest of my life,” said Zamani.
He played constantly for friends, family and even to himself sometimes in his room.
“We became accustom to hearing him practice all hours of the night,” said sister Nina Zamani, 24. “Whenever we would have my family over for holidays or birthdays they would always ask my brother to play for them.”
That all changed when he received what he thought was just another Facebook message in September 2010. To his surprise, it was from Adriana Gonzalez, a singer who was searching for people interested in starting a band.
With teamwork, he and Gonzalez hunted down a few others who shared their passion. Soon enough they found some good matches and had a band that they would eventually name Pass It On.
They got the name out there, promoted themselves via social media and began developing a fan base. People quickly wanted to hear the group play live which caused them to start booking shows with whatever venue that they could get their hands on.
In order to play in reputable places, they knew that they would have to compete in various competitions such as Battle of the Bands, which they did. This landed them a time slot at a well-known festival called Bamboozle, that thousands of people annually attend.
Family members were estatic after they heard the news of Zamani playing Bamboozle. “I screamed, jumped up and down and even shed a few tears,” said Nina. “It’s an unexplainable feeling to watch your baby brother grow into an adult.”
They then moved on to play Warped Tour, another event that exposed their songs to a huge crowd. As Pass It On grew more popular, Zamani knew that he wanted to continue playing bass forever.
He loved everything about this new lifestyle of his. Once Zamani subbed in on tour for his friend’s hardcore band, In Other Words, he became adamant about pursuing a career in music.
“It really opened up my eyes to the world because we toured like half the country,” he said. “Living on the road was something that I could see myself doing. Writing and playing music is something that I’ve always loved.”
However, when he was done traveling the world with In Other Words and back to his own band Pass It On, he knew that they did not have the potential to make it big. Zamani was positive that in order to progress with their female singer, that they would have to live up to famous bands like Paramore, with front-woman Hayley Williams.
Pass It On’s vocalist, on the other hand, did not come close to comparing with people like Williams. The boys urged Gonzalez to seek lessons to improve her voice, but she refused to do so.
From then on the band no longer saw eye to eye. Zamani even quit his job at Vans as an attempt to restore the group’s unity. However, they all seemed to want to take different roads, leading to various genres.
There was nothing more that Zamani could do. Pass It On split in August 2012.
He decided to take a break from music and go back to making YouTube skits, which was something that he loved to do back in high school. But this time around he would take his videos a lot more seriously.
The YouTube Outbreak
Zamani’s Macbook Pro sat open on his desk. The screen featured an upcoming video of his that he had been editing throughout the day.
Alongside his wall was a series of shelves stacked with complete DVD seasons of humorous shows like Family Guy, Community and The Office. These were the types of programs that inspired him to create the comical skits that he does today.
When his father Benny Zamani, 50, presented him with his first old-fashioned camera at age 11, Zamani immediately began filming. He eventually turned his living room into a movie set.
“After school me and all my friends would mess around and do stupid things,” said Zamani. “Then that led me to think, ‘I have a camera here and pretty much a cast. Let me see what I can do here.’”
In 2006 he exposed his ideas to the public for the first time by uploading a video to YouTube called “The Ninja.” The next day in school people were running up to him and letting him know how much the skit made them laugh.
They demanded more videos. Zamani realized he was on to something.
Throughout high school he continued to publish videos on the Internet as often as possible. However, once he had a job and band to focus on, they began to die down.
After Pass It On fell apart, Zamani decided to get back into the swing of YouTube skits. He collaborated with a friend, Jon Lopiccolo, 23, of North Arlington, in September 2012. Together they wrote and produced original comedy sketches.
“When we both saw each others’ videos it was kind of a ‘hey I do that too!’ kind of moment,” said Lopiccolo. “Working with Mike is easy. We have similar personalities and we communicate really well.”
They called themselves Indecent Adolescence and their videos instantly went viral. Old fans of Zamani were ecstatic to see him back on the YouTube scene and funnier than ever.
“I crack up whenever I watch Mike’s videos,” said Mia Pecoraro, 21, of Lyndhurst. “He was always funny back in high school, but now his stuff is even better.”
Zamani and Lopiccolo’s group has also earned a spot on the website Funny or Die. A month after he launched his comedy sketch group, the unthinkable occurred yet again. He received another unexpected Facebook message.
This time it was from Chris Ciardello and he wanted him to try out for his band. Luckily for Zamani, this time around he would now simultaneously be able to participate in both his loves, music and video production.
The Next Musical Chapter
Zamani would constantly make friends with various people he came across at shows that he played alongside Pass It On. He had his personality to thank a few years later when an old contact unexpectedly came in handy.
“I always try to make friends with everyone I meet and keep those friendships going,” said Zamani. “In the future you’ll never know who can help you out.”
Ciardello, who Zamani had previously met at a Pass It On gig, was searching for a new bass player in his band called Time Will Tell. Within no time Zamani tried out and became a member in October 2012.
It did not take long for Zamani and his bandmates to immediately click. There was great chemistry, they all had similar views and they definitely all loved playing music. The six of them rapidly developed a brotherhood.
“We’re literally all the same person. We get along so well,” Zamani said. “It really couldn’t have worked out any better.”
Time Will Tell just recently finished recording their debut full-length album titled “Finding Home.” One of their tracks even features vocals from Hit The Lights, a popular band.
“Hopefully he wins a Grammy one day,” laughed Diana.
They are currently planning a summer tour and making a very important, yet exciting decision. The band has received various offers from well-known record labels. Instead of rushing into things, they are taking their time and weighing out all of their options when it comes to choosing which label is the best fit for them.
Past classmates of Zamani who have kept up with his journey are happy to officially see him in a good place.
“His new band is awesome,” said Amanda Morales, 20, of William Paterson University. “It is great to see that his talent is finally paying off.”
The band is extremely time consuming, but Zamani still manages to frequently upload new skits with Lopiccolo. Although he wishes that he could put more effort into Indecent Adolesence, he is currently doing the best that he can.
“He’s been busy with his band and I have work and school all the time so that part gets rough,” said Lopiccolo.
With a current 2,756 Twitter followers, 1,897 Facebook friends and comedy skits that have broke over 17,000 views on YouTube, it is safe to say that Zamani has made a name for himself.
“He is widely creative and dedicated to his craft. I’m exceptionally proud of him,” said Nina. “I know there is no dream too large for him to reach.”
He sat in front of a piece of artwork that hung above his bed. It featured various inspirational sayings like “live your dream” and “follow your heart.” That is exactly what Mike Zamani did.