Student bands form connections, fulfill love for music

Strumming the guitar and singing into the microphone, sophomores Clare Dunne Murphy and Taylor Rudolph-Woitesek perform at Jamnesty on April 13. Several student bands at South perform at Jamnesty for peace and human rights.

Sam Parsons

Strumming the guitar and singing into the microphone, sophomores Clare Dunne Murphy and Taylor Rudolph-Woitesek perform at Jamnesty on April 13. Several student bands at South perform at Jamnesty for peace and human rights.

Esther Lim and Sarah Jones

They attend their day-to-day classes, eat lunch, laugh with their friends, and like any common GBS student, face the daily hardships of high school. However, these students know that they will always have something to turn to for relief: their bands. According to several South students involved in bands of their own, they find fulfillment in their love for music as well as a feeling of community in their bands.   

Senior Ariana Krbanjevic is one of these students and is the guitarist in the bands Ari and Mary, and Fuller Moon. Krbanjevic believes that bands allow people to bring their individual talents to the group and create a sense of unspoken harmony throughout the members. 

“During our [Variety] Show audition, we were struggling to find a way to end the song and then for some reason, we all had a moment of brilliance and wound up playing the same beat,” Krbanjevic said. “I strummed three times, my friend on drums hit the drum three times, the vocalist faded away on three beats, and we didn’t even [have to] look at each other.”

Another student involved in a band is senior Aidan Celner, guitarist of the band Odyssey. Celner finds that being in a band has created positive outcomes, including meeting new people and working collaboratively with them on a product everyone can enjoy.

“For someone who’s incredibly passionate about music and performing, it’s so fun to work in a dynamic that makes music so collaborative and allows you to create a product that everyone’s happy with,” Celner said. “It also led me to [meet] some of my best friends now, which is just the icing on the cake.”

According to Celner, while encouragement comes widely from bandmates, he finds influence and inspiration for music from various rock guitarists like Tommy Iommi of Black Sabbath, and Adam Jones of Tool.

“I remember grabbing a Black Sabbath greatest hits CD and putting it into my crappy CD player, and [I was] just was taken aback by the heaviness and darkness of the riffs and the songwriting,” Celner said. “Everything about the band had me hooked instantly. I remember listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan [for the first time] and just being in awe of how he made the guitar sing, scream and cry like no one else ever could.”

According to freshman Danny McNeela, who is in the band Independence Avenue, he finds inspiration in singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. One of the first concerts that McNeela attended was a Bob Dylan concert at Ravinia that McNeela says fed his love for Dylan’s music.

“It was really unbelievable to be at the Dylan concert,” McNeela said. “I try to make lyrics in my music very prominent and I consider him the greatest poet of the last couple of centuries. It’s really spectacular to see an idol perform live.”

Junior Jack Sundstrom is the bassist for the band Entropy, as well as an occasional bassist for other bands and ensembles. Sundstrom remembers certain performances, such as the one at The Jazz Showcase in Chicago with the GBS jazz combo. He believes events such as these assist in his attempts to achieve his personal goals of becoming like his musical influences.

“The Jazz Showcase is one of the last real jazz clubs downtown and a lot of really famous artists have played there,” Sundstrom said. “To get to play my music with my best friends on the same stage as so many musicians I dream of being like one day was really special.”

School activities have influenced Sundstrom’s band activity, which he says is a way to be involved with music even in school. Co-band Director Aaron Wojcik believes that student bands are a reflection of the amount of devotion students in bands have for music, despite certain challenges.

“Generally the fact that they’re [in a band] reflects their passion for music because playing an instrument requires a lot of hard work, practice, and skill,” Wojcik said. “I’m sure as any of these kids can tell you, it takes a lot to go and stand up on the stage and then perform those pieces.”

Despite the amount of devotion and courage it may take, students in bands persist in their music with their fellow bandmates, who, for some, are like family, according to senior Spencer Peterson, drummer of the band Entropy.

“It’s just another way to have better relationships with people that you might not usually hang out with a lot … [and] it really is a family,” Peterson said. “We all care for each other, [and] it gives us a reason to spend time with each other and just have fun doing what we love.”