Fascinating music

Tufts Student Bands Talk Music, Perform

From the rumbling practice halls of the Granoff Music Center at various basements and stages throughout clumps’ campus, groups of students are brought together by a common love for live music. These bands are independently formed groups as opposed to registered student organizations. Some of them – Honeymoon, Fease, Salt Hog, Emperor Jones, Fossil and Chowder — are featured here, sharing their stories with the Daily.

Although these groups vary in their musical style, they all have a certain rock influence. Zelda Mayer, a sophomore in the School of the Museum of Fine Arts’ dual degree program, is the guitarist and one of the vocalists of Salt Hog. She explained how each member adds a distinctive touch to the band’s musical composition.

I think any band would be uncomfortable with genre names, but genre, [Salt Hog] has its own different sound, you know. I can tell you my influences, but I think we all have our own personal influences, so when we come together it’s just something completely different. I mean, I hope so“, mayer mentioned.

It can be difficult to reconcile the range of musical tastes and backgrounds that can exist within a band. Mofe Akinyanmi, a freshman in the Tufts and New England Conservatory dual degree program who plays guitar and sings for Chowderdeveloped on this.

I think one of the challenges was definitely trying to find a groove and settle on a sound. And I think we’re still exploring different kinds of genres and stuff – like Owen, who plays guitar, he was trained in the blues for a long time, which I wasn’t very familiar with. So we experienced a lot of different things“, Akinyanmi mentioned.

Groups also have the daunting task of agreeing on a name. Henri Scherb juniorwho is the creative director and guitarist for Emperor Jonesreveals that the group’s name is derived from the eponym 1920 play by Eugene O’Neill.

My dad had a band in college, and they were called Emperor Jones,” Scherbe mentioned. “[Emperor Jones is] a super challenging game, pretty much a central theme of going against the grain, defying all the odds.”

Emperor Jones, Chowder, Salt Hog, Honeymoon and Fease were all founded in the current academic year, while Fossil began repeating in 2020..

Even though we started making music together over a year ago, almost two years now, we didn’t really get a chance to play until…this year, now that you can; it’s more social and open…so it was dedication to prepare us for that point where we’re able to get on stage and do the other half of the music-making process,Fossil drummer, junior Joe Sinkovitsmentioned.

For Drew Cohen, drummer for Chowder, a freshman band – the pandemic has impacted his journey as a growing artist.

I…sort of started acting in high school and really picked up when [COVID-19] hit, and for [an] obvious reason, it’s good for practicing alone, but it’s hard to play in front of an audience and with other people… so the major challenge for me was basically learning how to play drums live with others people” Cohen mentioned.

As the barriers to live concerts continue to decrease, student bands have more and more opportunities to perform.

“We draw so much energy from the crowd into our performances,” junior Max Chow-Gillette, Fossil lead vocalistmentioned.

mayer expressed a similar sentiment.

It was exciting to play in different places for us, just because everything has a different feel. And whatever the crowd, even if you have… a crowd that’s not very responsive, I think that builds your confidence as a performer,Mayer mentioned.

Cohen provides a positive assessment of the atmosphere with which the groups are confronted Tufts.

The music scene at Tufts is extremely welcoming… after every show all the other bands that have played… are the first to come and greet you and say what a great job you did, although maybe you didn’t even does a good job, Cohen mentioned.

clumps’ musical groups also bring together students from different campus communities, guitarist and Honeymoon lead singer Rayn Schnell explained.

All of us [in Honeymoon] are musicians but in different ways, from different campus clubs and organizations… we have people from orchestra, jazz orchestra, pit band, Public Harmony, so all these different campus music groups who came together to create our own kind of music,“Schnell mentioned.

Jack Wish, the bass player of band of nine musicians Feasewas pleasantly surprised by the talent of his peers when he arrived at Tufts freshman this year.

When asked what surprised him about being in a Tufts band, he replied, “definitely just the caliber of musicianship, … I didn’t come to Tufts because of the music scene. It’s not something I knew. So I was really expecting to jam with people, but I wasn’t expecting, you know, a ton of great musicians. Everyone here can really play, so it’s been a real privilege to get to know everyone here.

Although there seems to be a favorable climate for groups of students to Tufts, Sinkovits pointed out a drawback related to the size of the population of Tufts.

I wouldn’t say the music scene at Tufts is amazing. It’s a small school, so it’s a small scene — there just aren’t a lot of bands. …if you wanted every band of Tufts to play an event, you could probably figure it out, and it wouldn’t be a terribly long event,” Sinkovits mentioned. “That being said, though, I think the audience response can be really, really strong. You can get a lot of people on campus to attend events if advertised properly.”

The camaraderie and convenience of forming a group between Tufts students can also be a limiting factor in outreach efforts, Freshman Spencer Vernier – Chowder’s manager – said.

A problem I think bands have at Tufts [is] getting out of the Tufts sphere… it’s a bit of a challenge to book gigs outside of Tufts because people don’t really know you,” Vernier mentioned. “It’s not an insurmountable thing, but it’s something we have to think about, how much we want to have our footing in the world of Tufts and how much we want to be outside of it as well.

A successful group can take many forms, and so opinions differ on what the crucial elements of a group are. Despite this, many Tufts musicians agree on the importance of supporting each other.

[An] The important thing is that you have to believe in everyone in the group. You have to be a big fan of your bandmates… This works in your favor because you trust your band, but also, you know they admire and appreciate the work you do“, mayer mentioned.

Salt Hog bassist and vocalist Lily Piette, second-year SMFA studentadded a different perspective.

I think roles matter in a band. I don’t think hierarchies should ever exist, but I think that in a group, knowing… who is the person who does what is important,“Piette mentioned.

For a a band like Feasemembers’ relationships as friends underpin their relationships as bandmates, according to To wish and freshman Jack Goldberg, who the band described with a long list of roles, ranging from “founder/guitar/epic dude” to “king/princess” and merch designer.

“One of the most special things about being in a band is also that you get to know people’s musical personalities in addition to those in real life.,” To wish mentioned.

Goldberg added,I think we’re all friends at the heart of it all, that’s why we really get along.”

Scherbe emphasizes how the group, while demanding dedication, should serve as a respite from the chaos of everyday life.

We’re all very busy people outside of the band – everyone here at Tufts is extremely busy, so the added commitment of being in a band is definitely not something that’s necessarily easy to navigate. Scherbe mentioned. “I don’t want Emperor Jones to be something that stresses people out. It should be a place where you can calm down [down] and just relax and play music together.”

Cohen talks about college as a special place to get involved in a band for the first time.

You can somehow redefine yourself. I don’t think that’s necessarily unique to my college experience, but it’s certainly what made it easier for me to just say, “What is this? Why not get in a band and just start playing gigs? said Cohen. “In my high school, I wouldn’t feel like I was ready or it would be ‘me’, but there’s no ‘me’ in college yet so you can do whatever you want. And it’s pretty awesome.”

The independent music scene, especially in rock and alternative styles, very often presents an imbalance of demographic representation.

This music scene is extremely white, but I think having three women, one of whom is a trans woman… I just feel like we don’t have the standard male energy… and I really am proud“, mayer mentioned.

Chowder’s bassist, Freshman Halla Clausi, hopes for greater awareness of performers of existing bands from minority groups.

“The big names in indie music or indie rock are usually white people complaining about their lives, which they’re also entitled to, but I really think I see this as kind of a move towards more women and no more POC in this kind of field because again, a lot of indie rock or alternative music is it’s really about talking about the pains of life, and who else should be talking about it but people who are generally marginalized?“, clause mentioned.

His band mate Akinyanmi sees Chowder as a way to encourage people from all walks of life to get involved in music.

I hope other people feel as inspired to get out there and take risks and also make music and see that…it’s something that should be for everyone, Akinyanmi mentioned.