Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Success & ‘Sunburns’: catching up with West 22nd

Courtesy of West 22nd

Five songs, 50-plus shows and fans singing along to “Sunburns” encapsulate what West 22nd could call a “Sweet!” and “Sunny” year. In just months, the indie-rocking UT students went from West Campus jammers to songwriting success, proving they’re not just any old college band. 

“If you work harder, you put yourself in situations to get lucky,” said Gabe Acevedo, the band’s guitarist and a business and finance and radio-television-film junior. “We’re happy we’ve gone this far already.” 

When West 22nd spoke with The Daily Texan in January, the group started finding its footing on fraternity stages. Since then, the five-piece earned spots playing South by Southwest and Forty Acres Fest in March, along with notable stages around Austin and beyond, including Mohawk and The Ballroom at Spider House. 

Logan Madsen, Acevedo’s songwriting collaborator and lead singer, said that as lyrics flowed and bookings racked up, he felt increasingly passionate about following the music. 

“Initially, I didn’t think the band was going to be anything crazy,” finance junior Madsen said.. “But when me and Gabe started writing over the summer, we were making special things, and the more shows played, the more you realize that when people are reacting to your original music, it’s a cool feeling.” 

The band, rounded out by lead guitarist Jeremy Ancheta, bassist Nakul Nagaraj and drummer Douglas Blatt, amassed more than 600,000 Spotify streams across 146 countries after releasing their single, “Sunburns,” in April and their EP, “All the Way Home,” in August. Filling the setlist with originals rather than covers proved equally exciting and daunting, Acevedo said. 

“Back to our first song, Logan was getting cold feet right before we were going to play it,” Acevedo said. “Sometimes you have doubts, but it’s important (to remember) that making music is a vulnerable thing. You’ve got to care about it yourself, and if we believe in it, then other people should, too.” 

With a jam-packed calendar, which fellow students and co-managers Connor Kanaly and Olivia Knox help organize, it can feel easy to forget that as its name suggests, West Campus residents and UT students front the band. Finding a balance between academics and art proves difficult, they said. 

“Sometimes me and Gabe, based on test schedules, swap who takes the brunt of the work,” Madsen said.  

Multi-instrumentalist Danny Bonilla, a member of rock band Luna Luna, believed in West 22nd early on. Bonilla said he slid into their direct messages after seeing them perform, asking to jam together. An advocate for live bands, Bonilla eventually offered his mentorship. 

“Record labels find younger artists and take everything they’ve got,” said Bonilla. “I never wanted that to happen to a Texas artist. I wanted to do whatever I could to put them in front of an audience because they were so good.” 

Bonilla wasn’t kidding — he invited West 22nd to back him up at SXSW and gushed over their growth since. 

“An audience can’t connect with you until you’re at that level together,” Bonilla said. “They were connected from the beginning. They’re so good, and people should care because it’s fun being a part of a movement.” 

Raoul Hernandez, a music writer at the Austin Chronicle for nearly three decades and an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Media, knows what it takes to succeed in the “Live Music Capital.” Hernandez said if West 22nd remains committed to their art, the rest — managers, bookings, press and record deals — will follow. 

“When you’re young, the clock isn’t ticking in your ear, and that’s when great art gets made: when the art is more important than anything else,” Hernandez said. “Use Austin as a launchpad. Once you conquer this city, you’re ready to conquer others.” 

Soon, the band says it will release two new singles, which Madsen and Acevedo said feel more mature. The songwriting pair, who one day hope to play Austin City Limits, said they feel gratitude for the environment fans helped create around their melodies. 

“For people to convince their friends to come out and come up to us afterward and say they’ve never heard of us but are so glad they came means the world,” Acevedo said. “We’re glad people love the songs, but we’re even more glad that people can create a community around it.” 


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About the Contributor
Logan Dubel, Senior Life & Arts Reporter
Logan is a journalism freshman serving as a senior life and arts reporter. He joined the Texan in Fall 2022 as a general life and arts reporter and comes to UT from Reisterstown, Maryland. While not writing his latest feature, he loves collecting vinyl, going to concerts and being Stevie Nicks' biggest fan.