RMU grooves to Rock U

“There wasn’t really anything here for people that weren’t in professional bands, so we wanted to start a group,” Roman Iannone, a junior at Robert Morris University, said. Based on that vision, five students started a club that has become a home-grown band called “Rock University” or, for short, “Rock U,” which just produced the group’s first appearance during New Student Orientation weekend.

The club came together last semester with hopes of teaching students who wanted to learn, and it was founded by five RMU students Iannone, Vinnie Sabatini, Nick Dolinich, Ian Roberts and Roger Diehl. Their goal was to establish a place where those interested in learning to play could do so without any pressure.

“What I like about our club is that it’s really laid back; it’s a relaxed atmosphere,” Sabatini said.

Rock U
Photo credit: Noah Simpson

Sabatini, who is the band’s drummer, knows guitar-playing basics, but he has been taking advantage of the other musicians for lessons on improving his own command of the instrument. The group also takes advantage of the fact that it is based inside a community of people focused on learning, which means they are open to going wherever the interests of their classmates leads.

“We’re appealing to all musicians—it’s not just guitar players, it’s not just bass players, it’s not just the foreground, but it’s also the background—all the little stuff that goes into the background parts of all these songs,” Sabatini said.

Beyond just acquiring the ability to play a new instrument, members of the club also get to explore new songs and musical genres that they haven’t experienced before. That’s something that was important to Dolinich.

“There’s no point in learning an instrument if you’re just going to recycle the music and just play it over and over again,” Dolinich said. “I wanted to do something more unique and expand on my music horizons.”

Rock U
Photo credit: Noah Simpson

While it is officially a university club, everyone in the club can be a part of the band. Even if they are just learning, anyone can jump in and practice or perform. This desire to be inclusive means that they are willing to break the mold of the classic rock band lineup, two guitars, bass and drums, and play songs using whatever combination of instruments and people they have. With such focus on allowing anyone with an interest in music to be a part of “Rock U,” Sabatini made it clear that they are receptive to what the members bring to the group.

“It’s open to any musician that wants to do it, so any instrument means literally any instrument,” Sabatini said. “If someone shows up with a bass clarinet, that’s awesome. We’re all about it.”