There was a time when Jacob Foy and Anthony Bagnara were a couple Lincoln-Way Central High School students rocking out under the name “Makeshift Prodigy.”
Today, they’re signed to Atlantic Records and are currently in the midst of a national tour.
“We’re all really excited,” said Bagnara, who is a resident of Tinley Park. “It’s kind of terrifying at the same time.”
From High School to the Top 100
Although Makeshift Prodigy began back in Bagnara’s Lincoln-Way days, it wasn’t until college that the alt rock band determined their current lineup.
That lineup includes Bagnara on lead vocals, Foy on guitar, Christian Kwitkowski on bass, Joe Bauer on drums and Brandon Fox on keyboards. Four of the five band members hail from the Lincoln-Way area, with the exception of Fox, who is from Elk Grove.
During their collegiate and post-grad years, the band released two albums, “Welcome to the World” (2008) and “Mathematica” (2010).
Atlantic signed Makeshift Prodigy 18 months ago. Since then, things have only gotten bigger and better.
The band has played with 30 Seconds to Mars, Walk the Moon and Neon Trees.
In September, they embarked on their first national tour, playing 19 shows in 25 days.
A few months later, they released “Illuminate,” a six track EP, and their first with Atlantic.
The week that “Illuminate” was released, Makeshift Prodigy found themselves on the iTunes Top 100 Songs list.
Bagnara describes the band’s sound as avant garde. It’s pop with a twist, he says. There’s also an electronic element.
“We’re a lot more ambient than most alternative bands,” said Bagnara.
So, what do the members of an ambient alt pop electronic band listen to?
Everything, as it turns out. Tastes range from Michael Jackson to Skrillex. Band favorites also include Bjork, Linkin Park and Boyz II Men.
Big Success in a Small Town
While Makeshift Prodigy was cracking the charts and playing shows, they never forgot their hometown.
In fact, they never really left.
Foy, Kwitkowski and Bauer are from Frankfort. The band recorded all 88 of the songs they considered for “Illuminate” at Frankfort’s own Great Machine Studios.
The band members say that Frankfort provides the space they need to think and work, without the chaos that often accompanies success.
Operating out of Frankfort allows the band the ability to stay close to their family and friends, who they say have been very supportive throughout their rise to success.
On the Road Again
More and more, the musicians of Makeshift Prodigy find themselves on the road. They recently embarked on their third national tour in less than six months, an experience that requires swapping out the comforts of home for weeks on a bus with their band mates.
Unavoidably, practical jokes ensue.
The band gleefully recalls one incident in Nashville, where Bauer and Fox fell asleep in the van, which was parked outside their friend’s house. When the two awoke, they found it had been moved in the night and was now parked in front of a stranger’s house, several blocks away.
After traveling the East Coast, the band says they’ve developed an interest in amateur ghost hunting, especially at historic Civil War sites. Touring some of America’s most storied cities has awakened their inner historians.
But at the end of the day, Makeshift Prodigy always comes home to Frankfort, where they’re free to write, record and enjoy their lives among the people who mean the most to them.
“We’re doing what we love,” said Foy.
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