The Ultra
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The Ultra

Boston, MA | Established. Jan 01, 2018

Boston, MA
Established on Jan, 2018
Band Rock Country




"Boston-based The Ultra Mix Country and Rock"

Not that long ago, a former college baseball player and a former college football player became friends over their mutual love of competition, and also the musical careers they both decided to pursue after graduation.

Music isn’t always the ideal arena for competition, but Needham guitarist Sam August, and singer/guitarist Alex MacGillvray kept running into each other as they played with various cover bands, usually in the rock or country style, in the Boston area. MacGillvray eventually spent a year in Nashville, honing his songwriting skills and trying to break into the Music City scene, but after he returned to Boston, he and August put a band together for some local shows, still doing mostly country and rock covers.

Flash forward to today, and MacGillvray and August are part of The Ultra, the kind of fresh and scintillating guitar rock band we don’t hear much these days. Fans and music business people seem to agree, because The Ultra is suddenly a hot ticket, with a nice alternating Saturdays gig at Foxwoods Casino, a new four-song EP released in February, and a headlining show at Brighton Music Hall tonight. In a few weeks they’ll depart for Los Angeles and another recording session, with Courtney Ballard (Good Charlotte, Five Seconds of Summer) producing.

Some fans have noted that they still hear the band’s country roots in their music, which might be a symptom of so much of country’s chartbusters lately being in the arena rock category. We would say The Ultra’s music falls more into the classic slot of boisterous guitar rock, and music devotees who like Aerosmith, Tom Petty, or this weekend’s visitors to Fenway Park, the Foo Fighters, would love their sound.

The Ultra also includes bassist Pat Lyons and drummer Shaquid Droyan.

“Individually we had all probably spent four or five years playing in the Boston music scene,” said August this week, as he juggled pre-show preparations. “Alex had spent a year in Nashville writing songs, and had worked mostly as a country or country-rock singer. I was a session player mostly, doing covers in all styles. Our drummer was also a freelancer, playing in many different groups. Alex had a decent country music career, and still has great numbers on Spotify for his tunes. Our bassist Pat has a music degree--he’s the only one--and he’s a childhood buddy of Alex’s.”

“So the four of us have worn many different hats, and we have a lot of experience in the field,” noted August. “For myself, I’ve found that there are always a lot of singers around Boston looking for backing. Bars and venues want singers with bands, usually, so you can always find work that way. There is a lot of country music being performed around Boston, so that is a lucrative market, and we had all worked in it to some extent. After college, for example, I played in a country band that had a residency for two-and-a-half years at West End Johnnies, by TD Garden. So we all connected on many different levels, and knew each other reasonably well.”

“I had played baseball for Penn State, and Alex played football at Bentley,” August added. “We really bonded initially over that athletic history we shared--and we are both very competitive. About a year ago Alex put a band together, and we played probably 80 shows last year. That’s when we realized that we really gelled as a four-piece, and we weren’t really doing country music any more. Alex began writing songs for this band in the late fall, and we planned on going in a more rock direction.”

Music preview

The Ultra

9 p.m. July 20 at Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave., Boston, with Natalie Joly, and the Self Portraits opening. $15. 6 p.m July 21 at Foxwoods casino, Fox Tower lawn. Free.

Of course, plans can get delayed if not derailed, and MacGillvray had to have jaw surgery in December, in Boston. The Ultra went on the down-low for a while, but also prepared their debut EP, as vibrant a shot of joyous rock as Beantown has ever birthed. Simply called “The Ultra--EP,” the disc kicks off with the impossibly energetic “Lights Go Down,” with its surging guitar lines framing MacGillvray’s vocals as the rhythm section crafts a potent foundation. “Heart on the Run” is not exactly a ballad, but it does give the singer more room to show off his considerable chops. And the concluding “Sea Full of Faces” sounds like the kind of exhilarating anthem a band could use as the fiery finale to its show.

“The EP came out in mid-February, while Alex was still recovering,” August pointed out. “But in the past few months we’ve been as active as possible. We’ve played all over New England, and had a show in New York City that was very well received.”

The Foxwoods connection was another boon to the band’s ascent, coming about through Lipton’s I (Heart) Music campaign. Every other Saturday, The Ultra has been entertaining fans outside the main tower at the casino, at the ’Party on the Patio” site.

“The first one we did also had fireworks for the Fourth of July, so that was fun,” said August. “We realize that is a great opportunity, and through Pepsi we found that Foxwoods was starting this new ‘Summer of Fun’ entertainment idea, ‘Party on the Patio,’ and it is a great outdoor stage, with first class lighting and sound. There are seats, like a typical bar, and also room to dance, and it is just a superb environment for us--an energetic setting made for our kind of rock.”

“The reactions to the EP have been interesting,” August added. “Lots of people compare us to Jason Aldean or Kenny Chesney, while a lot of others hear a U2 influence, or Aerosmith. There have been some pretty wild comparisons, and widely different reactions, but we try to make it all a positive. If someone only saw us play live, they might come away thinking we’re a punk rock band, because we’re very vibrant onstage, slamming the heck out of our instruments. The four of us wear lots of different hats, but it all works when we play together.”

The Ultra members are still in their mid-twenties, and they’ve only officially been a band for about a year, and focused on their rock side less than that. But their sound is so intoxicating it has drawn plenty of interest, which is one reason why they’re headed to L.A. to record three more songs, starting July 25.

“Courtney Ballard is an L.A. producer, and he is also basically the lead engineer for Madden Brothers, and the MDDN label, of the brothers from Good Charlotte,” August explained. “We had a great experience with him in April and we’re looking forward to getting three more songs done.”

Obviously, with their four-song EP the talk of the town, and three more tunes being done this month, fans are going to be looking for an album from The Ultra pretty soon.

“We have been talking a lot about an album, yes,” August confirmed. “There have been a lot of conversations, and we have plenty of new songs ready to go. But the next step is to record those three songs and see what we do from there.”

In the meantime, The Ultra is focused on making tonight’s showcase a night to remember.

“We are working hard on spreading the word, through grassroots means, social media, and our own personal outreach,” said August. “A headlining show in one of the city’s best rock venues, this is something we’ve wanted for a long time and it means everything to us, in our hometown. Our openers are friends of ours, Natalie Joly, a singer very new to Boston, and The Self Portraits, with Jackie Foster, who finished in the top six on The Voice.”

“But after their short opening sets, we’re planning on playing around two hours ourselves, with a lot of new, original songs nobody has heard yet,” August added. “People might say ‘Save those for the record,’ but we’re excited to see the reaction fans will have to these songs. Our songs are designed to have everybody singing along by the second chorus, and we think Friday night is going to be tons of fun--our first big, hometown show.” - The Patriot Ledger

"Album Review - The Ultra "The Ultra - EP""

It is not often that new bands have such a developed sound so early on in their careers, but The Ultra defies the odds with The Ultra EP. The Boston based rock band makes a bigger impact with the four songs on their EP than some artists do over the course of several years. The first track, “Lights Go Down,” starts off with really powerful drums and good guitar that continue throughout the track. The music never overpowers the vocals. “Heart On The Run” starts off slowly and builds. The guitar solo in this track is really impressive. All four tracks really are amazing on this album. That being said, “Sea Full Of Faces” has a little something extra special in it that the other tracks do not have. It is the most underrated track on this EP and definitely not one to be ignored.

The Ultra have really well developed original music, which is pretty out of the ordinary for such a new band. The lyrics are not overbearing or too complicated; they get the message across without shoving it down your throat, while letting you come to your own conclusions. Besides the lyrics, there is amazing guitar in every single song. Few EPs or even albums can claim drums as powerful or bass as even as the ones in this album. The vocals never try to drown out the music; there is a perfect marriage between the vocals and the music on this EP.

The Ultra have created an EP that is jaw-droppingly good. Now is the time to start listening to The Ultra because they are surely on their way to big things. - Concert Crap

"Rock In A Hard Place"

Boston is long past the point where it’s at all surprising for a country-leaning rock band to break out. The scenes building up at places like Loretta’s Last Call on Lansdowne and State Park in Cambridge have built up a groundswell of a unified sound and vibe, and artists like Dalton & The Sheriffs, Chris Moreno, and Jenna Lotti are adding their own Boston-based style to a genre normally associated with Nashville.

The latest entry to all this is Boston quartet The Ultra, who today unleash a electric and whipsmart self-titled EP that’s all sorts of impressive and inviting. Led by 24-year-old frontman Alec MacGillivray, The Ultra may be known by those who toil and make trouble in country circles, but the breakout potential here among more pop- and hard rock-leaning tastes is intriguing.

“The Ultra started as a fun idea that we never thought would happen,” MacGillivray tells Vanyaland. “We were playing shows as a country band and having some success, and we would always joke about what would happen if we wrote rock songs together. We all grew up with huge rock influences and it’s still our favorite kind of music.”

As life was pulling the band in different directions, both musically and as people, MacGillivray says an impromptu writing session that birthed “Lights Go Down” in a single take helped crystallize a vision. It’s a confident, swagger-fueled song that has mega-hit written all over it. “When we finished, we felt this tangible electric energy in the room that none of us had ever felt before,” he adds. “It was the kind of feeling, I think, you chase your whole life — and it was addicting. I think that night we knew that the band was very soon going to become everybody’s number one priority.”

Part of the charm of The Ultra’s new EP is that while it dabbles in county vibes, there’s enough polish here to cross over to mainstream appeal, made all the more impressive when considering the four-song EP was self-produced by the band in drummer Shaq Druyan’s basement space. From “Lights Go Down” kicking it off to the arena-rock ambition of closer “Sea Full Of Faces,” there’s a tangible force brewing here.

“Honestly, our goal and vision for the EP was just to make something that we loved and create the music that we wanted to hear,” MacGillivray says. “We wanted to make music that, even if we weren’t in the band, we would want to listen to. We took the process very seriously, but we never took ourselves too seriously. There were no rules for what we could or couldn’t do sonically or in songwriting. The more ‘out there’ the idea, the more excited we were to try it. We just really had a fun time making music we are really proud of.”

And the Boston roots really shine through on a track like “The Level,” a towering pop-rock anthem that could easily fill the air of any outdoor festival this summer. It’s almost what we’d expect from a bunch of dudes raised on Aerosmith and making music in 2018, especially now that Steven Tyler has chased his country dream. But even these genre labels we’re throwing around in this article hardly tell the full story, as the core of The Ultra really boils down to the songwriting and the intensity and emotion in each track. It’s musical craftsmanship at its finest.

“Genre is a very loose idea these days,” MacGillivray notes, “it’s ‘whatever sounds good is cool.’ It’s an exciting time to be a band… First and foremost, we consider ourselves a live band, we are at our best on a stage in front of a crowd. So as long as there are people attending concerts and looking to rock out, we’ll be ready for them.”

Hopefully the world is ready for The Ultra. - Vanyaland

"New Music: The Ultra "Look Like Kylie""

This song and video from The Ultra has everything you need if you’re looking for rock music. This is written on their Facebook page: The energy, sights, and sounds of The Ultra are impossible to overlook as they bring their vibrant energy into every room and turn every show into a party.

Today, Look Like Kylie was released.

Facebook again:

Throughout 2017, the group played over 80 shows throughout New England under the Alec MacGillivray name playing landmark shows at Boston City Hall Plaza, The Paradise Rock Club, House of Blues, Royale Boston and numerous other venues throughout the East Coast.

Their energy is stronger than any venue. That’s probably why they used an outdoor location for Getaway, the video released in June.

Imagine your self experiencing The Ultra. What would you do? I would be jumping up and down in front of the stage singing like there was no tomorrow. Why? Because I have no other choice after discovering this amazing band. - Coverstory


Still working on that hot first release.



The Ultra was formed in early 2018 when singer Alec MacGillivray learned he would need to relocate from Nashville to Boston following news of an impending series of jaw surgeries. MacGillivray decided to put together a backing band for his country career and called Sam August (guitar) and Shaq Druyan (drums) upon his return to Boston. Alec and Sam met for the first time at a Kenny Chesney tailgate (where they were hired to play together) and Druyan and MacGillivray had met when they were both college students in Boston and playing the same nightclub scene. Pat Lyons (bass,) was MacGillivray’s neighbor  in middle school where they had played together and got the call to become the 4th member of The Ultra.


Throughout 2017, the group played over 80 shows throughout New England under the Alec MacGillivray name playing landmark shows at Boston City Hall Plaza, The Paradise Rock Club, House of Blues, Royale Boston and numerous other venues throughout the East Coast.  


Right away, these four young men attacked the stage and songs with a level of fun and energy that’s rarely seen. Word quickly spread through the Boston and New England area that The Ultra provided an electric experience and an amazing party atmosphere. As they developed their sound covering enormous arena-rock and stadium country songs, they began to write some of their own material. In October, the group wrote their first song “Lights Go Down” and realized they were onto something big.


In late 2017, Alec, Sam, Shaq and Pat decided to record the new material they had been writing before Alec’s vocal hiatus due to his December jaw surgery and rebranded themselves as The Ultra.  The band released their self-written and self-produced debut The Ultra - EP on iTunes and Spotify in February (where it debuted in the Top 50 on iTunes charts) and received worldwide pre-orders and a jump to #9 on Billboard’s Northeast Heatseeker chart. These four original songs were recorded with the sole purpose of bringing The Ultra’s high-energy rock/country sound to the masses with massive hooks, ripping guitars, and pumping grooves that get a crowd moving.  


Despite the obstacles of  Alec’s surgery recovery and a liquid-only diet, Sam’s grinding through Grad school at Harvard, Shaq taking on full course load at Berklee College of Music and Pat working full time at Tufts Medical Center, the band played their first show as The Ultra  to a sold out crowd at Bill’s Bar in Boston, MA in April of 2018.  Following the success of the debut EP, The Ultra teamed up with LA-based producer Courtney Ballard (Good Charlotte, Five Seconds of Summer, All-Time Low, Tori Kelly) and released their new single “Getaway,” in June. They wrapped up more new material with Ballard in July and are now gearing up to release the music this Fall.


This summer The Ultra have headlined Live Nation venue Brighton Music Hall and have partnered with iHeart Media, PepsiCo, and Foxwoods Resort Casino for a four-night concert series throughout the summer. The energy, sights, and sounds of The Ultra are are impossible to overlook as they bring their vibrant energy into every room and turn every show into a party.  Come join the excitement and be sure to catch them on tour in a city near you.

Band Members