Everyone has a goal when they go to college, a dream some might say. Our goals grow and change as we gain our education and some are just pipe dreams that might not even relate to our majors. One University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumnus in particular is working to make his dream of playing in a band a reality, and now the UNL community has the chance to support him.

Efren Cortez graduated with a degree in journalism from UNL in 2018. Since then, Cortez has been pursuing his dream of playing in a band. He started his act, No Functional Purpose, as a solo bassist, but within the past year, he has grown it into the band it is today with an EP releasing on February 4.

According to Cortez, the EP releasing on Friday is entitled “Black Ring” and has a 90’s punk, emo, post-hardcore type of vibe. He said the themes of the EP deal with letting go, childhood nostalgia, idols and sexuality.

Cortez said that he does identify as asexual and that the title track, “Black Ring”, is in reference to the ring an asexual person would wear on their right middle finger to identify their sexuality. He said the song reflects on his own experience as an asexual individual, more specifically, his experience attending his first pride festival.

“I didn’t have any pride merchandise or any physical things to show my sexuality,” Cortez said. “I ended up going later than I had planned so the vendors were all packing up and leaving. I was just crushed from not being able to grab something that would help me to feel like I fit in, which was ironic since pride is usually a place for people to go and fit in.”

Cortez declared his intention to start a band on the day he graduated from UNL. He spent two years afterward playing shows and building a name for himself in the local music scene. Within the last year, he met Warren Bable and Jimmy Hobbs, who helped transform No Functional Purpose from a solo act into the band they are today. Cortez said that this change has made his music more fulfilling.

“I’m able to have my songs realize their full potential now,” Cortez said. “They have a more full sound, and everything just sounds more like a complete package.”

Cortez wrote the lyrics to all of the songs on the EP by himself and received help from Bable and Hobbs to write the instrumental parts. Bable said that he enjoys getting to work with Cortez and that it offers him a different musical experience than what he gets with his other band, Second String. He shared that the EP, a first release for Cortez, is well worth the listen.

“It is definitely super raw,” Bable said. “It’s definitely a first venture, but I don’t think that should shy anyone away from enjoying it because there is really good, really cool stuff going on. Even in what I would call four fairly simple songs, Efren has so much passion, so much emotion.”

“Black Ring” will be available on February 4 on all major streaming platforms. No Functional Purpose also has some shows in the works for the spring, which they advertise on their Instagram.

Bable said that the EP has something for everyone who is into the punk and emo genres. He encourages people to give it a listen and support No Functional Purpose.

“There are so many vibes on it, it’s awesome,” Bable said. “There’s a really chill like shoegaze, almost stoner vibe…but also really chill indie stuff and really fun, hard-hitting more emotional stuff that you would expect. It hits both ends of the spectrum.”