Rat Queen members Eleanor Linafelt ’20 (left), Robyn Newcomb ’20 (right) and Kate Bertrand ’20 (on drums) perform at Party on the Green this year (Photo by Keira Wright ’21).

 Waverly Hart

Editor in Chief

Among every class of Wooster students, there are talented student musicians. You might see them perform at Covers, hear them singing in the shower, or, for the bigger on-campus groups, listen to them open for a big-name artist. 

Rat Queen, comprised of Wooster students Eleanor Linafelt ’20 and Robyn Newcomb ’20 (as well as Kate Bertrand ’20, who plays drums for the band), has quickly become one of Wooster’s most beloved student groups. 

Releasing their five-song EP “Clear Ghost Party Host” in May 2019, the group has since performed paid gigs at venues in Washington, D.C. and as an opener for Soccer Mommy and PUBLIC at Party on the Green. 

The indie rock group was formed in 2016, Newcomb and Linafelt’s first year on campus.

Linafelt, the guitarist and vocalist of Rat Queen, said, “I came to college knowing that I wanted to play guitar and write songs in a band. I was looking for people to play bass and drums, and when I became friends with Robyn I convinced her to learn bass. She was enthusiastic about it and very willing to start a band with me! We started playing shows on campus with just bass and guitar our first year.” Linafelt went on to say that she believes the name Rat Queen is part of the reason she convinced Newcomb to join the band with her. 

The friends had very different music experiences pre-Rat Queen. Linafelt played the bass in a band in high school, performed at different venues and even released an album before she left for college. However, Newcomb described her music background as “honestly nothing.”

“Which is why I feel like people shouldn’t see that as a barrier to creating music or art in general,” Newcomb, the bassist in Rat Queen, stated. “You just start learning, and then you just start doing it.”

The group made their debut at Covers during their first semester of their first year — one of Newcomb’s favorite Rat Queen memories. “We played ‘Lola’ by The Kinks — I was brand new to bass, and since we couldn’t find drums I got my friend Sharah Hutson [’20] to play a shaker using — I kid you not — a Velveeta mac and cheese cup from the C-store,” Newcomb said. “The audience was so supportive, cheering and singing along even though we were nervous and didn’t know what we were doing, and it was so indicative of what the next three years would be like.”

Since that initial performance, Rat Queen has performed on various platforms throughout campus, including house shows, Common Grounds, Springfest 2018 and the WOO91 going-off-the-air party. The student group also had the opportunity to perform at one of Linafelt’s favorite Washington, D.C. venues over the summer with Sheila and Sneaks.

“I love playing at Wooster,” Linafelt stated. “We have such incredible support from our friends, but also from people we don’t even really know. One of my very favorite things about Wooster is how everyone can dance to anything and it’s so fun to have people dancing and even singing along (which I can tell you is very rare at D.C. shows).”

In May, the group released “Clear Ghost Party Host.” “That was a crazy time!,” Newcomb stated. “We only had three days in somebody’s basement to record, and we hadn’t played together once in the last eight months because Eleanor had been abroad — and the drummer we found to play on it had never played with us before walking in to record. Me and Clew (the drummer on the EP) probably wrote at least half of our parts in the studio.”

Although Rat Queen has established themselves as a talented indie rock group locally, Linafelt encourages all students to be a part of the music scene.

“We really would love to see more people writing music and performing on campus and are more than willing to share our equipment (drums, amps, and guitar and bass) with other people,” said Linafelt. “We would also love to play shows and collaborate with other artists in any genre. The Wooster music scene is always in flux with people graduating and we’d love to connect with other people who play music or are interested in getting involved before we ourselves graduate this year.”

In the future, Newcomb and Linafelt both echoed they would like to continue making music as Rat Queen. In the short-term, Linafelt would like to build Rat Queen’s presence across Ohio. 

“This year, I think we’d like to try to play shows in Cleveland and/or Columbus if possible to get to know the local Ohio scenes outside of Wooster,” Linafelt stated. She went on to say that music will always play a huge role in her life. “I anticipate playing music, writing songs and being involved in music scenes for the rest of my life, but I’m not sure yet how exactly that will manifest,” she said. She also said Rat Queen would be interested in writing a full-length album in the near future. 

“I think we’d all love to keep creating music and especially to get more recorded because I think every song Eleanor writes is better than the last,” Newcomb stated. “It’ll all depends on where we end up geographically, but we definitely have more left in us.