Hasbrouck Heights-Based Teen Prog-Rock Prodigies to Perform at Mexicali Live in Teaneck on Tuesday, April 29
Doomsday Diaries Released Its Debut Album, “Forbidden Secrets,” in December
By Brian Aberback
The first day that fraternal twins Jay and Sean Sproviero
entered the South Hackensack School of Rock, an instructor dubbed the imposing
10-year-olds sporting long hair and youth football jackets “The Twins of Doom.”
Eight years later, the name has stuck and proved apropos to their music. The 17-year-old Hasbrouck Heights brothers are the founders of and songwriters for Doomsday Diaries, a progressive rock band whose complex songs, cryptic lyrics and remarkable musicianship belie their youth. The band performs on Tuesday, April 29, at Mexicali Live in Teaneck. It’s one of Doomsday Diaries’ last few shows for the foreseeable future – Jay and Sean are headed to college in the fall.
The band released its debut album, “Forbidden Secrets,” in December. The CD was recorded at Trading 8s Studio in Paramus. Jay Sproviero co-produced the album with Trading 8s owner Christopher Sulit.
“We wanted to create a body of music that was a modern take on progressive rock’s “Glory Days” of the early 70s, something that you have to actually sit down and listen to,” guitarist Jay Sproviero said. “This wasn’t intended as a collection of songs that would attract attention from today’s pop culture. Our intent was to create serious music for serious listeners.
From the get-go, we intended to approach this recording project as though we were thoroughly professional musicians, working on the production of a thoroughly professional collection of music,” Jay said. “We spent literally hundreds of studio hours bringing [album-opening epic] “A Higher Truth” to life. I remember one night spending nearly four hours on three vocal notes. My dad still thinks that they were the most expensive three notes in recording history.”
The Sprovieros’ intricate songwriting is indeed influenced
by the classic prog-rock of King Crimson, Yes and Gentle Giant as well as modern,
heavier progressive bands like Opeth and Porcupine Tree. Lyrically, the twins
take inspiration from The Book of Revelation, the legends of the Holy Grail,
Gnostic writings and Masonic culture.
“I’ve always been drawn to myths and legends because they’re all built around a common theme that strikes a chord with me, the quest through life’s journey to seek a higher truth,” bassist Sean Sproviero said. “That’s the message I’m trying to send on many of the songs that we’ve written.
“If you truly want to seek the truth, look within, not
without,” he continued. “The answers are
all tucked away within us. I know that
it can be pretty dark in there, so we all need to find the courage to look deep
inside, battle the demons and emerge as the best “me” we can be.”
The band also includes drummer Dominick Calabrese, 17, a Bogota High School senior, and singer Ella Hester, a 17 year-old Brooklyn resident and junior at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts in Manhattan. The Sprovieros are seniors at Bergen County Technical High School in Teterboro.
“It feels great to see something we've worked on for such a long time finally be available,” Hester said. “I think it will be apparent to anyone who listens to it how much work was put into it, and I'm incredibly proud to have been a part of that.”
“Overall, the album is tight, it sounds great, and I couldn't be happier with the positive feedback from our fans,” Calabrese said. “We worked for so long and got it exactly where it needed to be. It's nice to just listen and appreciate the quality of it. The sweat and blisters really paid off.”
“I’m incredibly proud that the entire recording effort was the product of the four of us,” Jay Sproviero said. “With the exception of bringing in Doomsday’s original drummer, who remains our dear friend, to perform on portions of the song “Elemental,” the album was the product of Sean, Dom, Ella and me. There are no guest musicians to add a guitar lead here, or some keyboards there. It’s all us. When my kids someday ask me who I was or what I did in high school, I want to give them this record, and say ‘this is what I did, and this is who I was.’”
“Forbidden Secrets kicks off with the five-part, 19-minute epic, “A Higher Truth,” a twisting and turning soundscape replete with colorful imagery of Camelot, prophets, kings and queens.
“Thematically, “A Higher Truth” is about both the good and the evil that one encounters when in search of, well, the truth, the grail, the soul, the spirit of enlightenment,” Jay Sproviero said. “To me, they’re all pretty much the same. When viewed as a story-board, each of the five movements is a separate episode while on the quest for the higher truth."
Hester’s ethereal vocals captivate the listener from the first note while Jay Sproviero weaves a sprawling, muscular web of technical yet melodic riffs and notes. Sean Sproviero and Calabrese provide the solid foundation necessary to holds everything in place while adding texture and subtle undertones to the music.
Another great track, “Seaside Lights,” is a sentimental and yearning yet hopeful rocker about the devastation of the Jersey shore by Superstorm Sandy. “Our family has had a shore house in Toms River since the late 50s,” Jay Sproviero said. “Sean and I were the classic boardwalk brats. We spent at least one night, and sometimes two or three, on that boardwalk almost every summer weekend of our lives.
“When I first saw the images of the fallen Jet Star [the Seaside Heights rollercoaster that was blown into the ocean] , truly one of our all-time favorite rides, I was driven to tears,” Jay continued. “I was struck with the immediate realization that summer life, as we knew it, would never be the same. I had seen photos of the devastated boardwalk on the Internet before we lost power. Once power was lost, Sean and I grabbed our acoustic guitars, grabbed a couple of candles and headed to our basement studio. We wrote and played through the night, and emerged the next morning with the song and the lyrics.”
“The greatest sense of achievement that came from the recording of the album comes from the fact that despite the depth of production on the album, we can convincingly translate the music in a live setting as the four piece band that we are,” Sean Sproviero said. “Jason and I were very focused upon creating a lush recorded ambiance while retaining the ability to perform the material in a live setting without compromising the feel and depth of the music.”
The Sprovieros formed Doomsday Diaries in 2009. Their prog influence is a family affair. “My dad is a huge fan of progressive rock,” Jay Sproviero said. “Virtually all of our weekend car rides to the Jersey Shore were comprised of the mandatory singing of Yes’ three part harmonies, with some Revolver and Sgt. Peppers’ thrown in to keep us grounded.
“You have to be a musician to play this material. Prog is not about prancing about on stage and playing rock star,” Jay said. “It’s about performing an exceptional brand of music that requires involvement of thought and the ability to make your instruments speak the same language that is being spoken by the composers. To me, prog is the musical cream of the crop."
Calabrese joined the band in 2012, and Hester came onboard
in April. Hester said she learned of Doomsday Diaries
from a former School of Rock instructor in New York. "I was drawn to this
band because of their musical ideas," Hester said. “It’s the genre that I
love and there are so many opportunities to perform, which is very hard to
The band’s peers, and adults, have taken notice of their talent. In 2011, Doomsday Diaries performed at the Bamboozle Festival in the MetLife Stadium parking lot after finishing as a runner-up in the Bamboozle Break Contest, a three-round battle of the bands competition. They also won the 2012 Fort Lee Film Commission Battle of the High School Bands.
The Sproviero brothers will both be studying computer science this fall at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. While Jay Sproviero said their studies will be their top priority, they’re not leaving their instruments at home. The brothers also said that it’s too early to think about the future of Doomsday Diaries, but fans still have a few more chances to catch the band (see schedule below).
As far as their current musical mindsets, Sean Sproviero said he and his brother are not ones to bask in their accomplishments, as impressive as they may be. “Jay and I don’t like to look back,” Sean said. “Forbidden Secrets is a collection of music that we’re both really proud of, but we also know that we have much more new music to create. Since the release of “Forbidden Secrets,” it’s been time to look ahead, not back.”
For more information visit www.doomsdaydiaries.net and the band’s facebook page.
If you go: Doomsday Diaries, opening for Porcupine Tree guitarist John Wesley. 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 29. Mexicali Live, 1409 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck. Tickets are $10 through the band: http://doomsdaydiaries.net/contact-us
7 p.m. Friday May 16 at Mexicali Live.
8 p.m. Friday June 27 at Bergen Performing Arts Center, opening for Slaughter and Autograph
Saturday July 26 at The Spectrum, Manhattan.
Monday Aug. 18 at Mexicali live: “Twins of Doom Bon Voyage Concert.” The band hopes to have past members of Doomsday Diaries perform with them, as well as some of the adult musicians who helped the group along the way.