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  • Writer's pictureConny Chavez

Alumnus rocks his career as a geologist and musician

Cal Poly Pomona alumnus Matthew Rosenblum (’16, geology) is a staff geologist by day and a rock star by night in an alternative rock trio, Poe the Passenger, that recently took over one of Los Angeles’ most famed radio station, KROQ.

Throughout December, the band remained in the top three of KROQ’s Locals Only, a radio segment airing Sunday nights where host Kat Corbett ranks some of the best local music from Los Angeles. This January, the band finally conquered No. 1 twice with their single, “Follow Me.”


“When we first hit No. 1, it didn’t hit me right away,” Rosenblum recalled. “I didn’t know what to feel, but the second time we hit No. 1, I was like ‘Oh my god, this is amazing.’ We built this community, and this fan base is family to us.”


Though Poe the Passenger is no longer No. 1 on KROQ’s Locals Only chart, Rosenblum is still honored to have their music on the radio and experience firsthand support from their fans.


Before enrolling at CPP in 2013, Rosenblum was a music student at Pasadena City College where he met Trent Marderosian, the drummer for Poe the Passenger. Rosenblum was later invited to join Poe the Passenger as a bassist in 2017 by Marderosian after bonding over music and jamming sessions at the city college. After joining, he met Jeff Pridgen, the vocalist of the group.


“What’s really funny about this is that nobody but my close family really knew that I could really play bass,” said Rosenblum. “I started my college career as a musician. I wanted to be a musician. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew it was something with music.”


Rosenblum shared that it could get challenging to balance his two professions but enjoys being able to express his love for environmentalism and the outdoors in both. He is grateful for his understanding bandmates as they often work together to coordinate their schedules around their jobs.


The trio meets at least three days a week to write music together and discuss new possibilities for the band. During their meetings, each member adds their personal touch and ideas. Rosenblum described their process as initially starting off with a vibe that they wish to convey then move onto a chorus before focusing on the production of the song.


During the pandemic, the trio took advantage of the lockdown and wrote 35 songs, drawing inspiration from trending songs and other music artists. Though the band currently leans toward alternative rock, they wish to expand to different genres.


Poe the Passenger returned with its latest single, “Heart Strings,” on Feb. 19. (Courtesy of Serena Rubin)

For nearly three years, Rosenblum has balanced his two gigs as a staff geologist for Fulcrum Resources, an environmental consulting firm, and as the bassist for the Poe the Passenger.


A year after graduating from CPP, Rosenblum became a geologist where he investigates subsurface characteristics of industrial and commercial properties. Rosenblum considers himself lucky to have understanding colleagues who support him and the band.


Despite the band’s success and his accomplishments as a geologist, Rosenblum remains humble and thankful for all the support he has received. He hopes to continue to grow within his career and expand to even greater things with the band, including impacting a bigger audience with their music.


The latest single from Poe the Passenger, “Heart Strings,” was released on Feb. 19. To stream or learn more, visit poethepassenger.com.


(Originally published in The Poly Post.)


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