Created in 2017, The Oddity is a SoCal rock band composed of talented members, one being a UCR student. Melanie Reynolds, an upcoming senior majoring in music and culture, is also in charge of the band’s vocals and bass guitar. Playing with her is drummer Justin Strickland and guitarist Anthony Juarez. Together, they have recently released their debut album, “Odd Man Out,” which includes plenty of rock, pop, indie, folk and funk tones that anyone can enjoy. 


Reynolds recalls the struggle in trying to think of a name when she first created the band. “We wanted something edgy but not cringe. We were tossing ideas around and ultimately chose The Oddity,” said Reynolds. The Oddity covers an array of music from the 1960s-2000s and hopes to create and play music that will bring all ages together. The band has been aiming to create a unique reputation within the musical community through its combination of genres and lively, acoustic music as described on their website


Between the band’s final touches on their debut album and schoolwork in the last year, both Reynolds and Strickland described it as a stressful yet fulfilling experience. “The band is definitely my number one priority,” Reynolds said, “the only point where it became stressful was during finals week of fall 2021. I was mixing and mastering our album while doing all of my final projects for school. That got a little crazy, but I eventually finished everything and it all worked out.” Strickland added, “Yeah, it can basically be difficult to work between music and 3 jobs with sleep being the thing that gets left behind, but it’s worth it to get to play and make music with such great people.” 


The group’s dynamic can be summed up as a unique trio who all “stem from different backgrounds and influences, but we all come together so well because of our friendships outside of music,” said Strickland. Juarez also agreed that friendship helps with uniting the group, but also states that everyone “likes to take their parts seriously. We keep a serious tone when trying to produce new content.” 


When it comes to each member’s musical influences, each offered various bands and personal artists that inspired them. “For me personally, I’d say Heart, No Doubt, Måneskin and my dad,” said Reynolds. For Juarez, Jimi Hendrix is where he gets all his “blues licks” while Eddie Van Halen is for when the guitarist wants to get a bit more eccentric with his solos. Juarez also mentioned Bad Company, ZZ Top and sometimes The Beatles as sources of inspiration. Drummer Justin Strickland gave personal accounts about his grandfather and uncle. “My grandfather was a drummer who released an 8-track when he lived in Syria and my uncle was a small gigging drummer when I was growing up,” said Strickland. 


For Juarez, he believes that their music doesn’t strictly fall into one genre. He says, “Our music sort of sounds like all of our music interests combined into one song.” Their new album displays a distinctive take on various genres while utilizing different instruments. Strickland said, “On the album, we have everything from accordion to synth to flute, all done by Melanie, on top of your traditional rock instruments.” The band’s fruitful work will lead them to promote their album this summer and also develop new music. 


As for those who wish to follow in The Oddity’s footsteps, Reynolds encourages incoming students to go for it. “It’s really not that hard to maintain good grades and pursue a music career at the same time. Start making connections now; networking is a huge deal.” E.A.R.S Student Group at UCR is a great place “to meet potential bandmates, producers, artists and friends,” recommends Reynolds. For more advice, Strickland simply said, “Send it” for those who wish to climb towards their musical dreams. 


Not only offering music, but the band has also launched their own podcast, “Odd Man Out Cast” via their Youtube channel. The Oddity will be performing at Harry’s Sports Bar & Grill in Fallbrook on July 2, The Bobber in Lake Elsinore on July 30, and at Vail Lake KOA in Temecula on Sept. 29 and Oct. 28. These shows are open to the public, so be sure to check them out!