Musicians encourage startup bands

Patricia Drey

While a dusty clarinet or trumpet might seem to be the only remnant of high school band, members of one local punk band told University students a musical background in childhood could aid in learning new instruments and starting their own bands.

“If you just know three chords, you can write a song,” said Jenny Hanson, a member of the punk band Eufio.

Hanson, who graduated from the University with a flute performance degree, said she learned to play guitar at about age 20 and still cannot read guitar music.

Hanson’s encouragement accompanied advice on how to deal with some of the hurdles new bands face during a workshop Wednesday, which the Women’s Student Activist Collective sponsored.

New bands face problems such as clashes with other band members, working to set themselves apart among a sea of other groups and juggling a busy schedule.

When University sophomores Matt Schufman and Ted Weidenbach started the band Harbor their senior year of high school, they were in for a few surprises.

“I envisioned (starting a band) to be a lot easier,” Schufman said. “I thought it would be a lot less work.”

Harbor played its first show at Wally’s Roast Beef in Bloomington, Minn. The members were high school seniors at the time and the first band to ever play at the venue, Weidenbach said.

In college, they got shows at a Falcon Heights, Minn., cafe through a friend who knew the owner, he said. After the cafe closed, though, they were left with few venue options.

“This year, we need to impress people to take us into their loop,” Weidenbach said. “It’s like we’re starting over.”

The group’s members are all friends, Weidenbach said.

It takes the right mix of personalities for a band to work together musically, said English sophomore Jacob Hanson, who is in the bands Caleb the Jerk, 12 Rods and Cowboy Curtis.

Jacob Hanson said he was in a high school reggae band in which one member created conflict because he saw himself as the group’s star.

“The band didn’t last long, because he was a little overpowering,” he said. “Anytime you’re in a band and someone wants to call it his name and the somethings, it’s a warning sign.”

Jacob Hanson said playing in three bands and taking a full credit load leaves him with little free time. He plays shows at least every other weekend and has one practice per week for each band. Although there have been times he wanted to quit school, he said, he has never wanted to quit playing.

“School is kind of like secondary to me,” he said.

Work sometimes took second place to shows for Kim Kopischke, a cinema and media culture senior and member of Eufio.

She said she used to call in sick to work a lot when she had shows.

Female musicians face additional struggles when trying to start out, said Jenny Hanson, whose group is playing today in Coffman Union.

Playing in bands is not a part of “girl culture,” she said.

“It’s so hard to go into a guitar store,” Jenny Hanson said. “Men just sort of treat you like you don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.”

Eufio put together a list of female-friendly guitar stores to give to students who attended the workshop.

To begin getting shows, knowing people in the local music scene is essential, Kopischke said.

“Getting shows is a matter of connections,” she said.

Through a personal contact, a member of the band Coach Said Not To secured its first show at the 400 Bar, band member Lee Violet said. They are playing today in Coffman Union.

Violet said the band was lucky to have the chance to play there, but it has taken a lot of practicing and meeting people to continue to get shows and recognition.

“I think that sometimes there’s an attitude when you first start out in a band of ‘Why don’t people just like us?’ ” she said. “Go into it thinking that nobody owes you anything.”