Payola wins NKU’s Battle of the Bands

Local band Payola hit it big at Northern Kentucky University’s first annual Battle of the Bands on Thursday. The alternative rock band was voted into first place with 74 of 300 votes after their crowd-rousing performance. Payola walked away with $500 and an invitation to open for Nappy Roots at Regents Hall on April 15, which the band accepted.

“When we auditioned, I didn’t even think we’d make it, ” said guitarist Alex Tarvin, “but then we ended up winning!”

The band thanked their family and fans for their continued support. They also thanked the seven other bands in the competition and all of the voters. They sent a special thank-you to local band Backroads, who they called “our inspiration.”

Tarvin added, “This is the first time we ever played something like this. It was a great opportunity.”

Bassist Joe Seiter added, “We had so much anticipation all day, then we had all that energy built up [when we finally played].”

Drummer Adam Record said the prize money will go into an existing band fund to “eventually upgrade our equipment.”

Payola is composed of guitarist and lead singer Randy Steffen, 20; drummer Adam Record, 21; bassist Joe Seiter, 20; and guitarist Alex Tarvin, 19. All four band members are current students at NKU.

The Alexandria, Kentucky natives have been playing together for three years. They are alumni of Bishop Brossart and Campbell County High Schools in Alexandria. They frequently play venues around their hometown.

Payola has built a solid fan base of friends, family, current students and alumni of their former high schools, and new fans picked up along the way. They had the largest and most enthusiastic fan base at the Battle of the Bands.

Fans Jordan Schultz and Bryan Futscher were at the Battle to cheer their favorite band on.

Schultz said he likes Payola because “their sound is original and their songs stick in your head all day.

Futscher added, “They’re all-around good musicians.”

In order to be part of the competition, Payola and the seven other competing bands were required to play their own songs. Payola played five original songs, all written and produced collectively by the band.

Steffen said, “We started off writing songs.” He added that he writes the guitar riff and then matches the lyrics to it.

All band members produce the songs together, according to Tarvin.

“We all come up with certain things and change it until we’re happy with it,” he said.

Payola has recorded a demo of their song ‘Lines’ and plans to record an album “within the next year,” according to Steffen. Until then, he said the band plans to “keep playing out and writing better songs.”

You can check Payola out online at, where you can e-mail the band and listen to their music. You can also see Payola at Regents Hall on April 15 at the Nappy Roots concert.