ORANGE Asks: Student Bands

Editor's Note: This story was originally published in Digital Issue V

The University of Texas at Austin: where the person sitting next to you in astronomy by day can be found performing onstage at Cheer Up Charlies by night. In celebration of these collegiate musicians, ORANGE talked to some of our favorite local student bands to see how they manage working in both spheres. From playing weekly shows to recording their own albums, these Longhorns are finding ways to express themselves musically as they trek toward graduation.

Story by ORANGE Music Staff

 

dryspell

The boys of dryspell try to keep the classic rock ‘n’ roll sound alive in Austin. The group is made up of UT accounting junior Hunter Thompson on guitar and vocals, UT Plan II senior Sam Jacobson on bass, Texas State student Chad Doriocourt on guitar and UT graduate Hugh Vu on drums. dryspell is currently recording their first full-length album, which they’ll release this fall. You can listen to their tape from a recent winter tour on Bandcamp.

Photo by Will Taylor

Photo by Will Taylor

What is your most memorable tour experience?

Thompson: My friend BJ ate a dollar bill, and it got lodged in his colon. We had to take him to the hospital in some small town in Kentucky. It was a very painful experience for him, but still memorable.

What album can you not stop listening to right now?

Thompson: “Thirds” by James Gang. My favorite track is “Midnight Man.”

Doriocourt: “But Seriously, Folks...” by Joe Walsh. We really like Joe Walsh.

What’s your favorite city?

Thompson: New Orleans is probably the most fun city to hang in. Lots of beautiful buildings and houses to walk around and see. Food’s kinda expensive there, which is a bummer. Like $9 for a po' boy. You gotta be kiddin' me!

What food best describes your band?

Thompson: Some Italian, Latin, Asian and vegetable fusion dish. That hits all the different palates in of our band. Can you guess who’s who?

 

TØMA

Local indie rockers TØMA formed in 2014. The four-piece has since been serving up its signature mix of soul and psychedelic rock to local crowds at events like the West Campus Block Party. The band includes bassist UT Plan II senior Neil Byers, bassist; UT Plan II senior Jake Hiebert on drums; UT graduate Waldo Wittenmeyer on piano and vocals; and Austin Community College student Willy Jay on guitar and vocals. You can find their their self-titled EP online. Answers by Hiebert.

Photo by Nick Bendicks

Photo by Nick Bendicks

What’s your most treasured article of clothing?

My most treasured article of clothing is no doubt my No Doubt shirt. Gwen 2016. Waldo (keyboard player) loves floral patterns. He has a continuous bulk order of floral curtains from China that he hems into shirts before every show.

What plant is your band most similar to?

I'd say we're like a venus fly trap. Seemingly harmless at first, so you are lured into a false sense of security. "Oh, these TØMA guys seem alright. I guess I'll go see them play." Then, all of a sudden, we're eating you.  

What album can you not stop listening to right now?

“Astro Lounge” by Smash Mouth. We have a new album coming out, and I am proud to say it is heavily influenced by this piece of work.

What series/book have your read/seen multiple times?

Well, Harry Potter, duh. I'm pretty sure Waldo reads a lot of Dr. Seuss. I’m not 100 percent sure that Neil can read. Willy enjoys encyclopedia entries. As a band, we're pretty deep in the “Lord of the Rings” game. We warm up with the LOTR theme song most practices and shows. We're actually going to start incorporating that into our set, right before we eat you.

 

The Smile Bunch

Self-described party punk band the Smile Bunch, made up of four current UT students, have been playing together for a little under a year. Guitarist and vocalist Logan Burroughs studies music business, guitarist and vocalist Kyle Anderson studies finance, bassist Axel Alarcon studies radio-television-film and drummer Matt McDermott studies mechanical engineering. The group recently released their debut EP “The Politics of Lowered Expectations.”

Photo by Mason Endres

Photo by Mason Endres

What album can you not stop listening to right now?

Burroughs: “Blistered” by Woozy. I saw them at the Merdurhaus Records show at Pearl Street Co-op during SXSW, and they blew me away. They ended up being one of my favorite performances of the whole week.

Alarcon: “Little Neon Limelight” by Houndmouth.

Anderson: Chon’s “Grow.” I have always been a fan of really awesome instrumental music, but this album has really changed the way that I think about instrumentation and what it means to be an incredible musician.

McDermott: “Wasting Light” by Foo Fighters.

What’s your most treasured article of clothing?

Burroughs:  My all-black classic Vans. They're all I've worn for several years now, but I have to get new ones every six months or so.

Anderson: I think my Bernie Sanders hoodie is pretty dope. Feel the Bern!

McDermott: It would definitely be the Muse shirt I got while they were on tour for “The Resistance.” That was the first time I went to see a band that I like without my parents.

What was your favorite toy when you were little?

Burroughs: Buzz Lightyear action figure, for sure.

Alarcon:  It’s funny that Logan says his favorite is a Buzz action figure, because my favorite is definitely my old Woody. I wrote my name on the bottom of his boot and everything. I stopped playing with it after overusing the string on his back, making the voice box get slow, deep and just creepy.

McDermott: When I was very little I had a toy cassette player that came with a microphone for recording your own tapes. I used to listen to music on there and record over other tapes.

 

Risky Motion

Dynamic duo Risky Motion met while living at Pearl Street Co-op. UT international relations junior Hasanthi Seth plays drums and UT graduate David Roseboom provides vocals, bass, guitar and synth. The group cites diverse influences for their upbeat tracks, including metal, blues and electronic music. You can listen to their most recent song, “My Foaming Mouth,” on Soundcloud.

Photo by Kristin Evans

Photo by Kristin Evans

What was your favorite toy when you were little?

Seth: Do you remember those Hit Clips? I used to wear it around all the time feeling super freakin’ cool, listening to 30-second clips of Shaggy over and over again.

Roseboom: Definitely Legos. I built mostly spaceships with big lasers on them. My mom thought they were super cool. I trust her judgment.

What was your worst vacation?

Seth: My worst vacation was the road trip I took with my grandparents. We drove through the Dakotas all the way from Colorado with the same ABBA CD playing on repeat and an awful smell in the car because rodents had gotten under the hood and decided to die there. Logistically it was the worst vacation, but I'm glad I got to experience something hilarious and special like that with my grandfather before he passed.

Roseboom: That time I drank ayahuasca.

What food best describes your band?

Seth: Habanero peppers, because we spice up the sweet stuff and bring a different flavor. That reminds me of the time David ate a whole one right before our photoshoot so he could make himself cry and look more intense for the pictures.

 

R.C. CAT

Short for “remote control cat,” this dance-pop group started as a collaboration between UT Plan II junior Connor McCampbell and computer science junior Julio Correa. Last year, radio-television-film sophomore Aaron Chavez and music technology junior Mitch Webb joined the cat-centric project, leading to the release of their self-titled debut album. Their funky tunes are clearly accompanied by eccentric personalities.

Photo by Alejandro Diaz

Photo by Alejandro Diaz

What's the most memorable thing to ever happen on tour?

McCampbell: One time we toured through Houston and stopped at the Museum of Fine Arts while we were there. Julio put a museum sticker on guitar so he didn’t look like the Philistine he really is.

Chavez: One of the most memorable shows for me was the show we played with the Mardy Bums at Spiderhouse. During the first song I jumped off stage to dance with the cutest girl I could find. I remember thinking, “Hey, well this is nice.” Then I jumped back on stage afterward and avoided eye contact.

When and where was your first kiss?

McCampbell:  My first kiss was on a pier in Corpus Christi. I caught a big fish, and my grandfather made me kiss it. I was 5.

Chavez: In a little movie theater while the animated feature film “Monsters vs. Aliens” played on the big screen.

What was your favorite song in middle school?

McCampbell: In middle school I loved to listen to “The Chicken Dance.” I would dance and dance, hoping to one day turn into a chicken myself. Time went on, and I never did turn into a chicken. Last year, I finally let that dream die and started to take R.C. CAT more seriously.

Chavez: My favorite song in middle school was definitely the song that played when the ice cream man would drive by my neighborhood. Hearing that song meant I was about to eat some ice cream yummies. On several occasions, I chased the ice cream truck several blocks to order myself a sweet summer snack from a stranger’s yard.