This time last year, Cal Shapiro and Rob Resnick were roaming the campus of Tufts University and laying down tracks in Rob’s bedroom studio in between studying for finals and preparing for graduation. A No. 8 album on iTunes, more than 18 million views on YouTube, and countless sold-out shows later, the duo, known as Timeflies, is now enjoying a slightly bigger spotlight than their college campus.
By actively engaging their fan base through social media and releasing weekly “Timeflies Tuesday” videos, the pop/hip-hop/electro pair has amassed an avid following. The videos, which vocalist Cal and DJ/producer Rez largely credit for their growing popularity, range from freestyles about topics randomly picked from a hat to rap updates on childhood classics, such as their “Little Mermaid” inspired steel drum track, “Under the Sea.”
Still, even with a hectic touring schedule and countless hours devoted to working on their second album, they find time to sustain their sports appetites. One needs to look no further than their weekly videos to find the evidence of passionate sports fans. In the past year, Rob has laid the beat and Cal has treated fans with freestyles covering NFL line predictions, an entire song about filling out a March Madness bracket, and Super Bowl XLVI, an especially sensitive topic for the duo, with Rob supporting the Giants and Cal being a die-hard Patriots fan. In addition to their sports-themed Timeflies Tuesdays, their album tracks have been featured in numerous sports broadcasts.
Soulful anthem “Switchblade” can be heard during the closing credits of the Big Ten championship game, while the Cotton Bowl sampled high-energy track “Turn It Up” for its highlight package. Perhaps their biggest coup was landing Under Armour’s “Are You From HERE?” campaign. The spots, featuring NBA up-and-comers Kemba Walker, Derrick Williams and Brandon Jennings, are set against the backdrop of “Switchblade," creating a stirring juxtaposition between the players’ personal stories and Rez’s assertive bass mixed with Cal’s poignant vocals.
Yet despite their mounting success, Cal and Rez remain the same guys glued to the TV on NFL Sundays, ever-ready to throw down in a game of "NHL ’12," or “Sticks,” as they affectionately call it.
If there is a musical dichotomy between Cal’s off-the-cuff lyricism and Rez’s methodical beat creation, so too is there a contrast in their sports appetites. Cal, admittedly the more sports-obsessed of the two, splits his allegiances between New England (Boston) and New York.
His explanation: “My parents are from Boston, so they raised me the right way, as a Pats/Red Sox fan; they wouldn’t tolerate a Yankees fan running around the house. But growing up in New York with partial season tickets to the Knicks and Rangers, as a 7-year-old in the best stadium on the planet, it was impossible not to root for the home team.”
Rez, on the other hand, roots for the Yankees, Giants and Celtics, though he is strongly considering aligning himself with Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z when the Nets move to Brooklyn. Having moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn himself, Rez dreams of following in Jay-Z’s footsteps and purchasing a team of his very own, although he envisions it a bit more like Will Ferrell’s Flint Tropics experiment from “Semi-Pro.” Regardless of the Nets’ performance on the court, Rez and Cal predict vintage Nets gear will become the new hipster swag du jour in New York’s “coolest” borough (their words, not mine).
They'd like to start, however, by realizing their biggest sports dream: Performing the national anthem or in the halftime show at a major sporting event.
When asked about their goals for the upcoming year, Cal and Rez can’t help but reflect on how good this past year has been to them. They’d love nothing more than to keep doing what they’re doing now, making music and entertaining their fans. Their upcoming album aims to do just that by capitalizing on their hit Timeflies Tuesdays and fleshing out fuller versions to create a mixtape of sampled tracks.
The yet-to-be named album will be available in early summer for free download and will feature samples from a variety of artists, ranging from Ben E. King, to Adele, to Portugal the Man. The early fall will bring a new, original EP, which the duo largely produced while on the road. Fans can expect Timeflies’ follow-up to their first album (which reached No. 8 on the overall iTunes chart, and No. 2 on the pop album chart when it was released in September), “Scotch Tape” to contain some exciting collaborations amid a more developed sound. Needless to say, the boys have been keeping busy.
Like all other ambitious young men, Cal and Rez hope to grow and are looking forward to seeing their music reach a wider audience, whether through radio, TV or movies. Rez wouldn’t mind seeing one of his epic beats as the backdrop for the climax in a Michael Bay movie, or better yet, have Hans Zimmer use an instrumental of one of their pieces for his next score. Cal saves his fantasies for his dream collaborations, with Ellie Goulding and Skrillex at the top of his list. After their meteoric post-college rise, nothing seems too outlandish. A lot can happen in a year; after all, Timeflies.