Makeshift Prodigy creates diverse musical styles

By Colin Shively

The Chicago band scene is eclectic, yet within the local music scene, some bands have adopted their own musical style to represent multiple genres—Makeshift Prodigy is one of those bands.

Made up of five members, Joe Bauer (drums), Jake Foy (lead guitar), Anthony Bagnara (vocals), Brandon Fox (ambient keyboards) and Dave Fister (bass), who have created their own musical environment and culture that is put on stage for the world to see.

Their writing, playing and visual shows have made them a band that can really make the crowd move.

The Chronicle talked with lead songwriter, singer and guitarist Anthony Bagnara to discuss the history of Makeshift Prodigy and how the band has evolved from a two-man show into a full-fledged band.

The Chronicle: When was the beginning of Makeshift Prodigy and how did it become what it is today?

Anthony Bagnara: It actually started as an experimental project between our lead guitarist Jake Floy and I. It was kind of more acoustic and that was probably seven years ago. Then two years ago we became a full band and started doing it more professionally, like the way we are doing it now. So officially, we started two years ago, but we have been working under the name Makeshift Prodigy for about five years now.

The Chronicle: After the forming of the current band, how did the music change in terms of style and genre?

AB: I would say it is a lot bigger now. I feel like my interpretation on a lot of our songs is that they have grown with us and are a lot more epic and meaningful. Before we were all just writers, just trying to get our music out there. Now we just have so many different elements going on, like with Joe Bauer, our drummer, he turns our music into something more explosive. Dave, our bassist, is doing a lot of sampling that adds a lot of interesting elements that keeps it different than everyone else. It seems we are doing a lot of things that other bands can’t figure out. Our influences are different between each band member, like some of us are into classic rock, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, but some of the members are into Lil Wayne. [The music’s] just a lot of combination. So our genre could be placed into alternative-indie rock, but I don’t know what the specific label would be. All of our different influences come out in different songs and the way we play our instruments.

The Chronicle: Makeshift Prodigy has performed at numerous venues. You must have pretty good concerts, what are they like?

AB: The concerts are really fun and we work really hard at making our live shows unmatched in the local scene. We do a lot of things. We bought and put together our entire light show that we have been working on for a while, so there is a complete visual experience in our live shows along with the audio experience that we provide with our music. It is different in its own right. [There are] always a lot of people, a lot of dancing and a lot of energy. We thrive on bigger shows. We recently were lucky enough to play at the Metro twice over this last summer and the last time we headlined, it was like a movement. It felt really good. It was a huge show, we debuted new songs and people were really feeling our music.

The Chronicle: Does Makeshift Prodigy record its own albums and where do you rehearse?

AB: Joel went to school and got a degree as a sound engineer and has been developing our sound studio for about five years and invested about $100,000 in the recoding studio to make it as close as possible to professional. So we record everything, we do the mixing and mastering, [and] we do our website. We want to keep everything in the family. Our studio is at Joel’s house. The entire thing is soundproof, we have a hardwood floor for rehearsal and we have a lounge with a pool table to relax, hang out and throw ideas around. People [who arn’t] in the band come there to just hang out and next thing you know, we are all playing music. That environment turns you into something, it makes you feel more free.

Makeshift Prodigy will be performing at The Rave in Milwaukee, Wis. on Oct. 1 and at Enclave, 213 W. Institute Pl., on Nov. 6. Tickets and specific show times can be found on the bands website at