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Towson University

By Jamie Wozny
For BaltimoreStories.com

It’s 1995. Hundreds of adoring eighth graders pile into the gymnasium and fill the old wooden bleachers. Shoulder to shoulder they sit as cheers of support echo through the gymnasium walls. It’s the eighth-grade talent show at Ridgely Middle School in Timonium and there in the corner stands Plunge, sweat drenched and shaking. They are all tuned up and ready to perform their first talent show.

That was Plunge’s first big appearance in public. Look at them now. Plunge has accomplished more than a lot of bands their age. They have done so much in so little time. They have played hundreds of shows all over the world and they are only in their 20s.

Plunge is a pop/rock band that fits into the modern rock genre. According to the Alternative Addiction Album Review Web site, “They have a less formulaic approach that doesn’t rely on sub standard pop punk songs to hit a sweet spot. They have a commercial edge with out selling out to the latest popular fad.”

Popular bands that Plunge sounds similar to may include Fuel, Good Charlotte, Lifehouse and Maroon Five to name a few.

One of the most prominent places they have shared their sound includes Merriweather Post Pavilion during the summer of 2004 to open up for a big name band, Cake. They had to play at places such as Crocodile Rock to get there. It’s a small club in Salisbury, Md. that wasn’t so inviting. Proving they can be happy playing just about anywhere is how they say they make a name for themselves.

Band members of Plunge include lead vocalist and guitarist Mike Ruocco, drummer and vocalist Mac Calvaresi, bass guitarist and vocalist Brain Magill and guitarist and vocalist Chris Shucosky. Their band manager is John Greenberg of Union Entertainment Group.

They are also currently signed with Atenzia records, a label in Sweden. A friend of the band knew a contact for the agency and sent in Plunge’s original songs. “Atenzia was so incredibly impressed with Plunge and didn’t hesitate at all to sign them,” said Bernard Ruocco, one of the bands managers. They have advanced from touring solely in the U.S. to places such as Japan and most recently Greenland.

These five local college-age men who all grew up in Baltimore are playing around 250 shows per year. Typically, they play four to five nights a week in bars, night clubs or concert halls. They say they take pride in their jobs as they travel the world to perform.

They have two CD’s. The first is titled “Understand” and the second is titled “Hometown Hero.” All of the songs are originals written by Mike Ruocco about his past relationships. At their shows they play both originals and cover songs. Plunge is the highest paid cover band in Baltimore according to Bernard Ruocco.

In 2002, Ruocco found himself leading not a life, but a dream. An already signed band, SR-71, gave Ruocco the chance to audition to be the bass player in their band. “This was the opportunity of a lifetime for me,” Ruocco said. He knew SR-71 because Plunge had opened for them quite a few times at different Baltimore shows. Ruocco said he played his best at the audition and got the job. He had never played bass before in his life. “Although I was unfamiliar with bass, Mitch Allen, the lead singer of SR-71 had faith I me. He knew I could pull it off and learn fast. That’s exactly what I did,” Ruocco said.

This milestone in his life gave him the drive to be a better musician. He was so busy with SR-71, that he took a year off from playing with Plunge. He claims that this decision haunted him for a while so he flirted with the idea of starting Plunge again. The sounds of the eight grade girls yelling his name must have never left him. Plunge was back in business.

In 2003, Ruocco decided that Plunge was his life and he needed to become successful with this band and not SR-71. Although Ruocco is still the bass player for SR-71, he says that Plunge is where his heart lies.

Now, Plunge’s hope is to get signed by a major record label. They have met with record labels such as Sony, Columbia, Atlantic and Virgin. “To be in the president of a record label’s office for over an hour, that’s an accomplishment right there,” Bernard Ruocco said.

During a meeting with a record label, usually two executives show up and listen to a band play about five of their original songs. If they are interested in getting to know more about the band they allow them a meeting, if not they are excused. Currently, Plunge is waiting for a call from one of these labels.

As for their practice time, they practice like other typical, busy college bands. They say that they didn’t get this far without practice though. They will rehearse a few hours before every big show. They will go over new songs and also work on what needs improvement. “I can’t get over how amazing they sound every time they play since they hardly practice. They play like prodigies,” fan Holly Albright said.

Ruocco says that the toughest challenge the band faces is trying to stay focused during demanding times. But he said what helps him to stay focused is to remember that there is another band next in line that wants the same thing as they do. Ruocco said, “We need to keep our place in that line if we want to move up in the music industry."

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