Campus bands prove that Wooster has original talent

Experience the musical stylings of some of these acts (and more) at Circle K’s “Battle of the Bands” Sat. Nov. 19 at 9 p.m.

Compliments

Ben Turner ’14, Kevin McClister and Chris Willimen

Interview with Ben Turner

 

Can you tell me a little about your members?

We all come from Elyria, just west of Cleveland.

How did you get together?

Kevin and I got together in our early teens to jam a Black Keys cover. Soon after, we began writing and recording, and began to perform in small venues in Cleveland with rotating bassists. Chris joined this past summer, after hearing an album Kevin and I recorded in the summer and winter months of 2010, entitled “Burn Down Music.” Chris approached us with several ideas for a concept album that he wanted us involved in, entitled “Audio Murphy.” The three of us spent all summer writing together, and hope to record more sometime this winter.

Can you describe your sound?

Many of our songs encompass simple melodies and harmonies in combination with the use of samples, rhythmic drums and bass and contrasting guitar tones.

Who are your influences?

The Beach Boys, Franz Schubert and Vince Gilligan.

Any original songs that you’re particularly proud of?

We’re currently excited about a new song we recorded during fall break entitled “Glimpse of Life.” “Candles” and “Avant Grande,” are also performance favorites.

How much do you practice?

We practice most often in the summer and around winter holidays.

Where do you usually play?

We occasionally gig in the Cleveland area.

 

The National Razors

Adam Levin ’14, Josh Stover ’14 and Gareth McNamara ’14

Interview with Gareth McNamara

dam has played trombone for the last ten years and is Principal Trombone in Wooster Symphony Orchestra. Josh is a past-life drummer, played guitar for the last four years, and dabbles in piano. I have played guitar for the last six years and can get by on a couple other instruments.

How did you get together?

A jam session born out of sleep deprivation and a bad case of the “baby-done-left-mes.” We were originally going to call ourselves Karl and the Marx Brothers, but we couldn’t get any gigs with that name.

Can you describe your sound?

Imagine Tom Waits and Elvis drunkenly stumbled onto the mainstage at a punk festival headlined by The Pogues. Extrapolate.

Who are your influences?

Apart from those mentioned above, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, The Clash, Arctic Monkeys, Imelda May, Bruce Springsteen, Coheed and Cambria, Ludacris, Simon and Garfunkel. We believe in diversity.

How much do you practice?

Once a week. More if you feed us.

Any original songs that you’re particularly proud of?

Well, “That Damn Typewriter” is about insanity, demons and alcoholism, “Guts for Garters” concerns a rather amorous woman and “Whiskey”speaks for itself. We are proud, our parents are less so.

Where do you usually play?

Dingy basements and random porches.

Empire Heights

Matt Stouffer ’14, Abbey Clough and Leo Sideras

Interview with Matt Stouffer

 

Can you tell me a little about your members?

We are currently playing as a three piece. I play drums and percussion, Abbey sings and plays guitar and Leo plays guitar.

How did you get together?

Abbey and I met around five or six years ago and started making music. She has been writing and playing acoustically for a few years and when I came in we turned it into a real rock sound. We wrote and recorded our first full length “Dress up, Shake Down” last summer/winter.

Can you describe your sound?

I feel like we’re pretty hard to describe. Punk/Rock/Singer-songwriter might be the best three genera.

Who are your influences?

They range from Blink-182 to Taking Back Sunday. Mostly punk or rock bands.

Any original songs that you’re particularly proud of?

We wrote a song the night before BOTB last year. It is now the intro to our album and we start every show with it. It’s real fast and heavy, definitely a crowd favorite.

How much do you practice?

When we’re home on break usually every day. Abbey and Leo both attend Ohio University so we really haven’t practiced since summer.

Where do you usually play?

We play acoustically for our friends at home. Recently we’ve played the OU BOTB (Ohio University Battle of the Bands), which was tons of fun. We love any chance we get to play.

 

 

Huey Newton and the Juice

Dan Hanson ’12, Fran Francis ’13, Maxim Elrod ’15, Dan   Axmacher ’12, Matt Porter ’12

Interview with Dan Hanson

 

Can you tell me a little about your members?

Dan Hanson plays guitar and vocals and taught Herman Cain everything he knows. Alexandra “Fran” Francis plays guitar and is a nationally recognized cup stacker. Maxim Elrod drums and was a model for the Dolce & Gabbana children’s clothing line in his youth. Dan Axmacher plays keyboard and bass and has a rare medical condition that makes his body intolerant to any fabric except corduroy. Matt Porter plays bass and vocals and enjoys writing Twilight fan fiction.


How did you get together?

Me, Dan Axmacher, and Matt have jammed intermittently since we were first-years, often going between different drummers. Then we got Max, and Fran joined in after that, so the core of the band has been the same for the past three years only now with Fran and Max, who we met this semester. We’re named after the founder of the Black Panther party and a delicious drink.


Can you describe your sound?

Matt and I are the main songwriters. Matt writes stuff that tends to be influenced by shoegaze and noise music, with lots of static riffs and long jams. I tend to write music that is more influenced by blues, punk and types of rock with more conventional song structures. We’re always loud and spacey given our five-instrument lineup.


Who are your influences?

Max: Swans, Modest mouse, Dismemberment Plan

Dan H.: the Fall, dinosaur Jr., The Who

Matt: Whiskey, Cobra Starship, Zwan

Dan Ax.: Blood, Sweat & Tears, Tears for Fears, Madness

Fran: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Kid Koala

Any original songs that you’re particularly proud of?

My favorite song that I’ve written is called “Been Through the Suburbs.” It just has a really simple blues shuffle kind of feel and the lyrics kinda wrote themselves. I also wrote the music to “My Old Lady” and “Black History Month,” which are both kinda punky. Matt wrote the lyrics to both of them.

How much do you practice?

Every Saturday or so.


Where do you usually play?

Avery house basement, where Matt and Dan Axmacher live.

 

 

No 5th Grade

Kyle Smucker ’13, Charlie Davis ’12

Interview with Kyle Smucker

 

Can you tell me a little about your members?

I play drums and sing mostly. Charlie plays hot riffs, occasional spicy lick on the guitar and bass and sometimes drums.

How did you get together?

We met a party last year…

Charlie: “Hey you play drums right?”

Kyle: “Yeah I guess you could say that.”

Charlie: “OK we are a band now practice is at three tomorrow.”

Kyle: “Oh word. My name’s Kyle.”

Can you describe your sound?

Do you remember the first time you tasted a peach?  It’s sort of like that but with more feedback.

Who are your influences?

We have disagreements about our influences.  I would say Jeff the Brotherhood and Natural Child are probably ones we could agree on.  We used to name our songs after what they were rip-offs of — we had a “Yeah Yeah Yeahs” song, a “Death From Above 1979” song and now there’s a “Deerhunter” song on the new demo, which is coming out soon!

Any original songs that you’re particularly proud of?

We have a new song called “I Could Go;” it’s our breakout hit. I picture myself in a two-door with Kanye and Bill Gates listening to that song, talking about what charities we’re currently donating to.  It’s going to pay for my kids’ college tuitions and their ponies too.

How much do you practice?

Only when my housemates are trying to take naps.

Where do you usually play?

We do a lot of shows at Kate house, where I live.  There aren’t too many places around the town of Wooster looking for two punk-ass kids to play songs with titles like “Blood Wizard.”  We have played at the UG, big shout out to the electric fans taped to walls at the UG.  I feel like Wooster’s student music scene doesn’t live up to its potential — there are so many talented musicians that go here but hardly any student organized bands.  We don’t have places to play or even practice because everyone has to live in dorms — we’ve got all these great musicians diddling their drum machines, locked up in their tiny dorm rooms with no basements to jam and get loud in.  Wait sorry what was the question?  Oh yeah well … Charlie keeps talking about doing a show in Cleveland but we’ll see what happens.

 

 

Matthew Germaine

Interview with Matthew Germaine ’15

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Matthew Germaine and I’m from Berkley, Mich., a small city about 20 minutes away from Detroit. I’m a first-year student and am currently thinking about minoring in Music (I have no idea what to major in!) I play the trombone and a bit of drums and piano in addition to the guitar. I play the former instrument in the Scot Band, the Wooster Jazz Ensemble, a Jazz Combo and the Brass Ensemble.

How did you start making music?

Not sure what to answer here … I just picked up a guitar about four years ago and have been enjoying it ever since!

Can you describe your sound?

Since it’s just me and my acoustic guitar, I suppose I have an acoustic sound. As far as genre goes, it’s pretty much pop/rock and covers. I try to convey my love of music through the songs that I perform.

Who are your influences?

My biggest influences (music-wise) are Dave Matthews, Ben Folds, Trace Bundy and Andy McKee (not in any particular order).

Any original songs you’re particularly proud of?

I have only written one original song so far, but I am extremely proud of it. It’s called “Prolonged Aggravation (It’s PA),” and it’s a rap that I wrote about my English class last year (senior year of high school). It was pretty much the hardest class I have ever taken, so I thought it deserved a rap of its very own. I will be performing it at Battle of the Bands!

How much do you practice?

I try to practice a bit every day. To be honest, I think playing guitar (or any instrument) is an awesome stress reliever and/or study break, so I will sometimes whip it out in the middle of a bunch of homework, play for about a half-hour, and then get back to studying.

Where do you usually play?

Before coming to Wooster, I played a few songs at a coffee shop close to where I live called The Coffee Beanery. Besides that, I usually just practice in my room, but I’m excited to perform at Battle of the Bands.

 

 

Tom Waits

Tom Waits pleases waiting fans with new album

 

Ben Fuqua

Staff Writer

 

If you’re anything like me, you were starting to worry that Tom Waits had pulled a Marky Mark and forsaken the music industry for the bright lights of Hollywood. True, Waits isn’t exactly a prolific actor (his last role was a bit part in The Book of Eli), but it’s been seven years since his last album, Real Gone. Seven years can be a long time in the music world. In 2004, everyone was singing “Hey Ya,” Usher had the biggest album in the country, and people knew what a Hoobastank was. In those seven years, Waits kept his fans occupied with a rarities collection (Orphans) and a live album (Glitter and Doom), but anticipation was building for a new studio album. So now we have “Bad As Me.” Waits pulled out all the stops on this record, getting guest appearances from David Hidalgo (of Los Lobos), Les Claypool, Flea and Keith Richards. His fans have responded by making this Waits’ highest charting album ever.

So is “Bad As Me” worth waiting seven years for? That depends on what you’re looking to get out of it. If you’re interested in the individual songs, there are plenty of great ones on this album, and a few would be good contenders for a greatest hits compilation. If you want a fully realized album, “Bad As Me” doesn’t quite deliver. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good album, but it doesn’t come together as a cohesive whole in the way that Waits’ classic albums do. On this album, Waits seems to be cherry-picking songs from various periods of his career, at times playing the grizzled bluesman, the cowboy balladeer, and the lounge singer doing his best Billie Holliday impression. For the most part, he shifts effortlessly between styles. Songs like “Raised Right Men,” “Satisfied,” and the title track are spooky blues bangers that put Waits in his element, wailing at the top of his lungs. “Kiss Me” and “New Years Eve” show that Waits can write a piano ballad to rival the best of them, with the latter track featuring one of the most heartbreaking renditions of “Auld Lang Syne” put on record.

Only a few songs fall flat, but when they do, it’s pretty cringe-worthy. “Last Leaf,” an acoustic ballad with Richards on backing vocals, would sound ridiculous if anyone else sang it, and is only made bearable by the gravel in Waits’ voice. On “Hell Broke Luce,” Waits tries to spice up what would have been an unhinged monster of a track with a healthy dose of f-bombs. I’m no Puritan, but Waits is one of the few musicians whose songs are astounding enough without the unnecessary profanity. “Bad As Me” has its shortcomings, but these are vastly outnumbered by its high points. It may not become a modern classic, but it is more than enough to keep Waits’ fans happy for another seven years.

The Scene: Retelling a story

THE SCENE:  Retelling a story

Whitney Siders

 

Last weekend while watching the movie “Walk the Line,” I found myself thinking about how stories are retold versus how they actually unfold. “Walk the Line” focuses on the course of events in Johnny Cash’s life story. Being familiar with the background story, I already knew how the movie would end, but it soon became very evident that the sequence of events were inevitably leading to Johnny marrying June. Even though I already knew this is what would eventually happen, I began to wonder about the gaps that viewers weren’t seeing. I almost felt cheated because of the extent to which the events were shaped around the eventual relationship. I found myself wondering what the situation was actually like.

When watching a movie, we are confined to the narrow focus created by a carefully selected lens. I am not arguing that there is something wrong with this method of storytelling. In fact, I would argue that it is incredibly effective. It is, however, beneficial for everyone to be aware of the tactics behind a retold story.

Chances are, you are not an aspiring movie director, author or playwright, but you are a storyteller. Each of us likely tells some sort of story everyday, and when retelling a story, it is helpful to ask ourselves certain questions. For instance, where is our story going? What gaps should be left out? Who is your audience? When stories are retold, they are directed toward a certain audience while progressing towards a conclusion. This is perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of a retold story. A story that is being told has a foreseen ending that every event is shaped around, whereas when an event is actually occurring for the first time, the conclusion is unknown. While it may be difficult to recreate the intensity of the events that led to its conclusion, a storyteller holds the key to tapering the focus of the story to the ultimate goal.

Have you ever told what seemed to be a really interesting story, just to suddenly hit a roadblock right before reaching the conclusion? The simple part of storytelling is the beginning, be it some sort of attention-grabbing comment or simply the traditional, “Once upon a time…” After you have the attention of the listener, the events of the story will typically flow along smoothly for a while, at least until you round the final turn on the way to the finish line. It is always unsettling to realize that you are approaching an unsatisfying ending.

In order to avoid this occurrence, the story needs to taper directly toward the desired conclusion, which is accomplished much easier through the medium of film versus verbal storytelling. After reaching the end of “Walk the Line,” as the final credits were rolling, I still felt somewhat cheated because I knew undoubtedly how the story would end. However, I was able to appreciate the angle of the story’s plot and be satisfied by the happy ending.

 

Orchestra deserves a standing ovation

Orchestra deserves a standing ovation

Cara Haxo

Staff Writer

If Sunday’s Wooster Symphony Orchestra (WSO) concert was any indicator of the rest of the group’s season, Wooster is in for a treat. The first full WSO concert of the year featured three senior soloists and the Paragon Brass Quintet under the direction of conductor Jeffrey Lindberg. The opening piece, Hector Berlioz’ Roman Carnival Overture (1843), highlighted the entire orchestra. The work took themes from Berlioz’ opera Benvenuto Cellini, including the “love theme” played by the English horn. Full of the emotionality and passion characteristic of the Romantic Era, the overture provided an energetic start to the concert.

The next piece on the program, the first movement of Nino Rota’s Concerto No. 2 for Violoncello and Orchestra (1987), moved from romanticism to neo-classicism. As with classical compositions, Rota’s work followed a specific form, yet it incorporated 20th century techniques to create a modern feel. The performance featured Kenneth Peterson ’12, who played rapid passages with ease and exemplified the beautiful warmth and resonance of the cello.

The second movement of William Walton’s Concerto for Viola and Orchestra (1962 Version) gave the audience a taste of the rhythmic innovations typical of 20th century music. The scherzo (Italian for “joke”) incorporated accented off-beats, syncopation and changing meters. Noah Dresser ’12 entered immediately with the viola’s two-measure motif that returned throughout the movement. Having memorized the entire movement, he displayed the rich timbre and agility of the viola, skillfully playing swift, ascending passages.

The next piece took the audience back to the Classical Era. The first movement of Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Concerto in E-Flat Major for Trumpet and Orchestra (1803) was in the three-part sonata-allegro form, perhaps the most typical form of the Classical Era. Fewer members of the orchestra played this movement to better represent the classical orchestra, and the trumpet solo of Etienne Massicotte ’12 stood out brightly against such a background. Massicotte showed off the dynamic range of the trumpet and flawlessly delivered technically challenging passages.

The final piece of the concert was a gorgeous four-movement programmatic work by Ohio-born composer Eric Ewazen. His piece Shadowcatcher: A Concerto for Brass Quintet and Orchestra (1996) was inspired by four photographs of American Indians taken by Edward Curtis in the early 20th century. Ewazen’s work called for an expanded percussion section and a brass quintet (two trumpets, horn, trombone and tuba) to suggest melodic and rhythmic motifs of Indian music. His orchestration successfully evoked the landscape of the American West, from shimmering rivers to giant bonfires. The rich and resonant sonority of the Paragon Brass Quintet, whose members were featured in this work, captured a vast spectrum of emotions and leads the piece to a powerful conclusion.

The concert attracted a large, appreciative audience of students, faculty, staff and community members. They greeted the ending of the final piece with the standing ovation that the seniors, the Paragon Brass Quintet, and the entire orchestra fully deserved.

Can I feast?

Can I feast?

Every turkey question, answered

Anya Cohen

Features Editor

Thanksgiving is a dream come true for the obese at heart, like myself. Food, food, food, food, food. Turkey is not only delicious, but also makes you tired, and let’s be real, there is nothing better than passing out after a gargantuan meal.

We eat A LOT of turkey:

But just how humongous is this meal really? According to the National Turkey Foundation, in 2007 Americans consumed 690 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving. If you do the math, 690 million pounds is the equivalent to 4.48 million people at the average weight of 154 pounds. 4.48 million was the population of Singapore in 2005. So, we eat Singapore for Thanksgiving. Nom nom nom.

American face-off, Turkey v. Eagle:

Just how much does the U.S. love turkey? Clearly, not as much as Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was dead-set on the turkey being dubbed America’s official bird and was livid when the country opted for the ill-tempered eagle. He was so mad he even wrote a letter to his daughter stating the U.S. had made a mistake because the turkey is a “much more respectable bird.”

How to catch a turkey:

Do you ever get sick of the simplicity of buying a turkey at the grocery store? Are you looking for a little more adventure in your life? Why not catch your own Thanksgiving turkey? Turkeys may have 270 degree vision and may be able to run upwards of 20 miles per hour, but let that stop you not! The best turkey catching tactic (unless, of course, you a

ctually know how to hunt a turkey) is to trick them into looking up when it’s raining. Weird, right? Turkeys can actually drown if they look up when it’s raining. When they fall over, speed through the rain like the hungry American you are and claim your Thanksgiving turkey! Stupid turkeys.

Turkey day boosts U.S economy:

Did you know that in 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving to be a week earlier than usual? All in the name of consumerism, my friend, all in the name of consumerism. Roosevelt, loving the holidays (and probably enjoying a booming economy), wanted to make the holiday season start a week early. There was such an angry outburst by tho

se gung-ho traditionalist Americans that Roosevelt had no choice but to declare Thanksgiving a National Holiday, only to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

Keep these facts in mind, namely the fact that you are consuming Singapore, when you dive into your turkey feast this Thanksgiving. Turkey. Food. Nom.

 

Czech Lee out: Story of off-campus study

­­Czech Lee out: Story of off-campus study 

Lee McKinstry ’13 shares stories from her study abroad experience in Prague

Lee McKinstry

Staff Writer

When you read this, I might be eating guláš. This seems to be what I spend most of my time doing in Central Europe, as the bread dumpling and meat sauce dish is one of the most popular cuisine options in the region, and is really, seriously delicious. I might also be listening to someone play the accordion –   I’ve been to two traditional Czech music concerts since I arrived in Prague this September, and pass a number of street musicians on my way to class. Or, I could be milking a goat. This is probably the least likely option, but I have clenched my fingers around some lady livestock’s udders lately, so I wouldn’t entirely rule it out.

Since I’ve arrived in the Czech Republic, the list of things I never thought you’d find me doing has grown incredibly, even beyond the most extreme “study abroad” examples I’m citing. After “moving” to Prague, Czech Republic I have learned to stop trying to have these kind of expectations. The nation, which was under communist control from 1948-1989, is now known in the West for its peaceful, arts-driven “Velvet Revolution,” and as a thriving creative center and socially progressive nation. It has been this place and more for me, and I’ve spent a lot of my stay emailing everyone back home telling them that they have to come here. I have loved my time here (which thankfully isn’t quite over yet) more than I could have imagined, for a number of very lengthy reasons. I’ll try to pinpoint just a few.

I wanted to come to Prague because of the admittedly romantic image I had of the city. A place where a student- and artist-driven rebellion had overrun the Soviet regime, where Kafka lived on the banks of the Vltava River, where a new generation of artists are thriving today — I wanted in. In most ways, the city has not disappointed. I get off the metro, the advertisements on the walls of the subway station are all arts-related; a Dvorak concert, a Jachym Topol play, or an arts-festival run by a local theater in Prague. While the usual ads for sneakers or beer are in the mix too, the city’s focus is a decidedly artistic one.

There’s a saying here that “everyone in Prague is an artist,” and this has proven true for me again and again. My sociology professor is in a Czech folk band on the weekends. My host mother is not only a college professor, but a writer, translator and literary critic and our academic director is also a poet and painter. All of our lectures and trips (thanks to our incredible academic director) have been somehow tied to an art form, whether we are meeting with the founders of a non-profit arts center, seeing a Czech punk band perform, or talking to a physical theater troupe about their inspiration for a production. I’ve attended lectures by some of the best writers in the nation. Though the city has the same tourist attractions as any major historical hotspot (the Charles Bridge, for example, the oldest bridge in the city, is now completely overrun by fanny-pack slinging, milkshake suckers from all areas of the globe, including me), the promise of a creative metropolis is as true as those romantic visions would have you believe.

I also came to Prague because the history which shaped modern politics here is so recent, that the ramifications of the communist regime can still be felt palpably, from my interactions with professors to etiquette on public transportation. The Czech Republic officially became an independent state in 1989, and elected its first president, Vaclav Havel (a playwright) in 1990. The country celebrated Havel’s 75 birthday this October, and with its coverage came a wave of reflective articles about his and the other revolutionaries’ accomplishments during that revolution 20 years ago. I’ve only been here about three months, so I won’t pretend that I understand all the ways this country is still trying to rebuild itself, but certain habits from that former time prevail; you don’t smile at others on the tram or in the streets, and you never question authority figures. Police can still be especially brutal here, when they want to be. Many families keep to themselves, not out of rudeness, I’ve been told, but out of habit. A groundswell of political activity has cropped up around the “Roma question” an economically-deficient ethnic group that many believe are becoming the new “scapegoat” for the nation’s problems as rioting broke out around many of their homes in the North this fall. The nation, while certainly better-off than it was under communism (though, even that statement is disputed by some Czechs) is definitely still in a period of political flux. Witnessing it firsthand has added new dimension to my experience, and shown me how little I really knew about Communist history.

I could go on forever, and so could anyone who’s ever studied abroad (which everyone should do if possible!). Above all, Prague living has taught me that everyone should find a way to do what they love and fight to keep that outlet, regardless of their other jobs, their home life, or even, in this most extreme historical example, the political state above them. The Czechs do, and have, for thousands of years. Coming from a country of relative privilege, I’m trying to learn from their example.