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By Jessica Ford

At a downtown car dealership, Curtis Mangione and Jesse Weeks are sitting in a navy blue 2007 Mazda 4 GT talking about rock and roll.

“A good driving song definitely has to be upbeat and get your adrenaline pumping,” Mangione says. “A good drum track too. Lyrics that talk about raising your fists to fight help as well,” Weeks adds.

Mangione, a second-year information technology management student and employee of BMW, and Weeks, a Toronto police officer, are the guitarist and vocalist of Ceejay. The two have been playing together for the past three years.

They submitted their song, “Victory,” to an interactive music contest, Mazda Rockin’ Roll Call. The top 25 songs will be chosen by listeners and will be narrowed down to five by judges from the music industry.

The winning five tracks will be put in rotation on an online video game, Campus Joyride, produced by Canadian game developer Fuel Industries. The driving game pits university against university, and the leader board ranks the top Canadian schools.

The creators of the top track will win $2,000 worth of professional studio time. Mangione has received support from his classmates at Ryerson. “I’m in ITM so everybody has computers. I was just on it putting a vote in one day and somebody was just like ‘What site is that?’ and I told them about it and got a bunch of friends to vote,” he says.

Inhaling the new car smell with Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer” echoing through the huge cabin, they recall how they heard about the opportunity.

“I got an e-mail from a co-worker telling me to vote for her friend’s band. I checked out the site and I was like, ‘screw that’,” Weeks says. Their song has also been submitted to the ad agency marketing the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. “Its all about victory, teamwork, beating the enemy and not wanting to lose. It shows the competitive nature in us which also works in a racing game,” Weeks says.

Ceejay isn’t the only Ryerson band in the Mazda contest. Strange Liberation, named after a John Lennon quote, submitted “Dusty Roads.” Guitarist Ross Hayes-Citrullo is a first-year radio and television arts (RTA) student, and vocalist Scott Munro has applied to the same program for next year.

Not surprisingly, their new album, released Jan. 12, features a number of songs about driving, traveling and hitting the road. Mazda claims to be the most youthful of all car companies in Canada, boasting an average buyer age of early ‘40s, not exactly the average university student.

However, Peter Whaley, senior director of sales and marketing of Mazda Canada, says that they have had a presence on university campuses for years. “Because our cars are youthful we like to spend a fair chunk of our marketing dollars towards that group.”

Whaley describes the contest as a poor man’s American Idol. “There’s a lot of music in there that is like the kind of music I used to listen to growing up,” says Whaley, who made a point to mention that he’s near retirement.

Back at the dealership, the car salesmen are getting ready to close the doors and no customers have come in since Ceejay has been there.

As Mangione and Weeks leave the dealership to go home, Weeks’ fiancée is waiting outside to pick them up in her car — a Mazda. To listen to the songs and vote visit http://www.mazdarockinrollcall.ca.

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