Editor in Chief
Through Springfest, Covers and other on-campus opportunities, The College of Wooster is no stranger to popular student-formed bands that are loved for years after they graduate. One of these beloved bands is Rat Queen — including alumni Eleanor Linafelt ’20, Robyn Newcomb ’20 and Kate Bertrand ’20. Although most bands disintegrate after they leave campus, Rat Queen worked hard to keep blessing the ears of their fans for as long as they could.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced 2020 graduates to head home prematurely, the bandmates moved away from each other, crushing any hope for them to create more music together. Rat Queen’s dreams almost felt out of reach until a surprising stroke of luck hit the band’s email inbox. “[Newcomb] accidentally checked our Rat Queen email, which we had stopped checking since we thought we were over, to find an email from an engineer/producer Jackie Milestone, who works at Headroom Studios,” Linafelt explained. “They had seen my name pop up on Instagram, listened to our EP and were interested in recording music with us if we had anything in the works. They had no idea that I was about to move to Philly (and literally a block away from them) or that we had just started talking about wanting to record an album together.”
The band didn’t want to record with just any studio, but with people they appreciated and were comfortable around. “If we were to record professionally, I would want to find a producer who wasn’t a cis man, which is extremely hard to find,” Linafelt added. “I knew from working with men in music situations in the past that working with a producer who wasn’t a cis man would likely make us feel more comfortable, understood and able to ask questions and share ideas.”
Headroom Studios was perfect for Rat Queen’s recording, as some of their favorite albums had been recorded there. “The way the universe lined up for us, it really seemed like fate,” Newcomb said.
To pay for recording costs, the band launched a Kickstarter campaign selling limited-edition merchandise. Kickstarter also allowed the band to accept donations. Over a few weeks, many Wooster students found the Kickstarter link, and with the help of friends, family and hardcore Rat Queen fans, the band raised over $4000 for a five-day recording session at Headroom Studios. “We were shocked by how quickly we raised the money. We feel so lucky to have such supportive communities from Wooster to our hometowns, families and friends,” said Linafelt. “We just hope everyone will be happy with the final product!”
The band recorded nine songs for their official debut album, and the release date is unknown. Linafelt said, “We are planning to send the album around to labels to see if anyone would be interested in putting it out. If we can’t find a good match, we will probably self-release it.”
Rat Queen knows nothing would be possible without their college roots in small-town Wooster, Ohio. “In my opinion, no band or artist is truly self-made — every artist is shaped by, and owes something to, the community that supported them from the start,” Newcomb said. “We owe so much to everyone who’s supported us even way further back: everyone who came to our Common Grounds performances when we first learned our instruments and sounded terrible, every program house whose basement we practiced in, every older musician who told us good job after our songs at Covers, every D.J. who played us on their radio shows, every band who let us open for them; it really did take all of that, too, to bring us to Headroom in April.”
Though Rat Queen is unsure of their band’s future, they are excited for the road ahead. “Man, this album is just so much stronger than our EP — I can see so clearly how much we’ve progressed, and I want to see that trajectory continue,” said Newcomb. “After we were able to pull off this album against what felt like impossible odds, it feels like we can do anything.”
You can listen to Rat Queen on Bandcamp at rat-queen.bandcamp.com, and their music is currently available on Spotify and Apple Music.