Interview with Charlie Gordner, The Learning Curve

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00:00:08 - Formation of the Band

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Partial Transcript: So I guess let’s start at the beginning: how did the band get formed, and how did y’all get started making music together?
CG: Um, well, actually Anthony was the very first person that I met on campus. We ran into each other walking into Dennis Hall before either of us had even seen our rooms. And I saw him, and he had two guitars with him which was just so nice for me because I was, like, freaking out that I had like two guitars and I didn’t want people to be like, “Oh, who’s that weirdo that needs two guitars here”. So, that was the first time I met Anthony. And, I mean, we were both trying to get our sh*t in, so we just said, “hi”, and “we should jam sometime”. Nothing ever really came of it; then a couple weeks later, I joined the jazz combo with Dr. Esleck, and Anthony was also involved with that. And there was one day where we had all kind of acknowledged – I mean, Anthony, Spooner and myself had all kind of acknowledged that we were into Green Day and, like, that kind of music. We all had some time after rehearsal so we were like, “hey, you guys know ‘Holiday’? Let’s play ‘Holiday’!” And, uh, so, it all started with that jam on ‘Holiday’ after combo rehearsal one day. And then from there we just decided to start jamming, and I guess it just went from there. Originally, there wasn’t any intention for a band, probably for most of freshman year there wasn’t any intention for a band. It was just us getting together and playing music, and then it escalated from there.

Keywords: Anthony; Dr. Esleck; Green Day; Spooner

00:01:54 - Musical Influences

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Partial Transcript: ZC: Who, or which artists would you say are your main influences as far as the music you make?
CG: There’s a few that definitely come to mind right off the bat. I think the first one, and probably the most obvious if you’re listening to our music, would be the Foo Fighters, Nirvana. And that, I have – that influence is totally, like, Anthony; he’s a huge Foo Fighters/Nirvana fan. Um, so that’s pretty much all him. Like, anything that sounds like Nirvana, you can tell Anthony wrote it. I think one of my biggest influences coming into the band, and I guess, like, mostly the style we were going for is Green Day. That just seemed like the natural fit when we got into it. It was kind of like the musical common ground that we started it with. And we’ve played a Green Day song – at least one Green Day song – at all of our shows so far. So I’d say that’s a big influence. Personally, as far as my bass playing goes, um, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers has always been a huge influence on me, just by nature of wanting to learn Red Hot Chili Peppers songs when I was first learning how to play the bass. So I feel like I find myself doing a lot of things that I learned, or similar to something I learned in a Red Hot Chili Peppers song. When I’m playing the bass, or trying to write a new bass line, um, beyond that – like I said, Foo Fighters, Nirvana, um, I listen to Rise Against a whole lot; I’d be lying to myself if I said there wasn’t a little bit of influence from that in my songwriting. But then again, I don’t do a huge amount of the core songwriting, so I don’t know how much influence you can really hear from Rise Against in that regard. But yeah, I would say the big ones are, as far as things you can actually hear in our music, Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Green Day, and then, like I said, personally, I’ve always looked up to Flea. Yeah, I think those would be our major influences that you can really notice in our music.

Keywords: Flea; Foo Fighters; Green Day; Nirvana; Rise Against

00:04:06 - Cellar Concert Cancelled / Challenges of Being a Rock Band on Campus

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Partial Transcript: ZC: So, our concert at the Cellar got cancelled. How do you feel about that, and how do you feel – what’s it like to be a rock band on this campus?
CG: Oh, man, um, I’m very salty about the Cellar concert. I have some things I could say. Um, so I guess, biggest thing about the Cellar concert is that they weren’t knowledgeable about the events going on that weekend ahead of time. I mean, it would’ve been a totally different scenario if, when we were trying to plan the concert originally, they were like, “oh, this weekend’s not gonna work, we’re doing something”. Or, even if, a month later, they realized it’s not gonna work and they let us know. But, to go back and tell us that they can’t do the concert, like, less than a week before the actual date really sucks in my opinion. And, I mean, like I said, for one, they should’ve known March Madness was coming – it’s been coming for a long time. Uh, number two, they had, what, 7, 8 musicians practicing for months ahead of time, to perform for them for free at their restaurant. And, so they just disappointed all these people who, by the way, are students; it’s not like we’re random musicians from elsewhere. We just kind of wanted an opportunity to share our music with friends and other people on campus who might appreciate it. Um, so I think it just really sucked that they did it so last minute, and I dunno, I guess the reason was probably monetary. The reason’s always monetary. And I don’t – I don’t think the marginal increase in profit they would’ve gained from showing the March Madness tournament over the concert was worth losing all of that time spent and the opportunity to share music for all these musicians, especially from an on-campus restaurant that doesn’t necessarily need to be concerned with making the maximum amount of money every single night, especially when there’s students trying to share their art. So I think their priorities were a little skewed there. And I guess that leads right into your other question of what it’s like to be a musician on this campus; and not even so much a musician, I guess, but as a rock musician, the opportunity is just not there. And I don’t necessarily hold that against the school, ‘cause, I mean, it’s not something that I came here thinking I was going to get a ton of publicity for my band that didn’t even exist at the time. But it is kind of unfortunate that rock music and rock musicians aren’t more heavily supported by the music department – they’re so, so all about the classical and the jazz. And that can be a little frustrating, especially when you’re going through the music program. But, beyond that, I think a big part of it is the people on campus, in general, not really appreciating rock n’ roll as much as other people. I dunno, I’m sure a big part of it is a generational thing. People are age just seem to really like pop music, and electronic music and rap. And that kinda pushes them away from the rock n’ roll side of things. And, I think, beyond that, there’s no doubting that there’s a significant party culture here; and, I mean, you go to these parties and you don’t wanna hear, like, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles on the loudspeaker if you’re trying to dance and stuff. So I think people get exposed to a certain type of music there, and they think, “oh, that’s the music at this school, like, that’s what I’m going to listen to, I wanna be cool and fit in”, and that’s what it ends up being. And there’s not a lot of room to explore new types of music that way. And, furthermore, as far as the party culture on campus – which I have no problems with whatsoever – but I think a lot of people are set on going out and going to the lodge or going to whatever party on their Friday and Saturday nights and so they’re less inclined to go to a concert, especially if it’s not someone performing that they know. I don’t think there’s a lot of people on this campus who would consider going to some random, like, underground band for fun on their Friday night. So I think for that reason it’s kind of tough to get a hold as a band, specifically a rock band on campus and just kind of the lack of opportunity. I mean for one, it’s a problem with any campus that you’re not going to have a lot of room to store your equipment; I mean, nobody’s got a drum set in their dorm room. Nobody’s got any large amps or a ton of instruments in their dorm rooms. So practice space is limited, and I think for anybody who doesn’t know about the band room and the facilities that are available to us in the music program, then they’re not really gonna have any way to get started even if they desire to do that.
ZC: And also, not to mention, we’re not supposed to be using the band room, like I’ve been yelled at, and Kevin (my bandmate) has been yelled at, and, like, where else are we supposed to go?
CG: Yeah that’s totally a privilege kind of thing. And if you’re not in an ensemble or some kind of music [school] thing, then that’s totally off-limits to you, even though it’s already kind of limited for people who can use it. I do have to say, I mean, the fact that they let us use it at all when they don’t have to, despite a lot of things not being in the best shape down there, is really great. And it’s awesome that Dr. Davison is willing to let us use that stuff, especially when it comes to, if we do have a show at the Cellar or anywhere else on campus; as long as the equipment’s not being used, they’re more than happy to let us use it. So that is a positive. And I don’t want to completely take away from the music department because they do help us out in some ways like that.

Keywords: Beatles; Cellar; March Madness; Rolling Stones

00:10:35 - Rock Bands as a Community at UR

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Partial Transcript: ZC: So, I feel like rock bands on this campus – I mean, we know each other as bands, and, like, we’re – we play shows together. But I feel like overall, there’s something lacking as far as, like, a group of people who are in rock bands and who work with each other as far as music and stuff. Do you think the answer to maybe building more of a community would be to maybe start a club, or something within the music department?
CG: Yeah, I definitely think – I mean, the more we can get people talking and knowing each other and trading numbers back and forth, playing shows together – anything like that – anything we can do to make that happen more is a good thing. And I think a club is a great way to do that because you’re gonna have those people who maybe aren’t in the music department, or just don’t know anyone else who wants to be in a band – they’re gonna see those posters or whatever you have up for advertising for the club and they’re like, “I’m interested in that, that sounds awesome”. And then, I mean, once you get people there just talking, you’re gonna have people who wanna be in bands, but need a guitarist, or need a singer, and they’re gonna be there at the club. And I really think any platform that allows musicians on campus to get together and talk and kind of build the community like you’re saying – is gonna be a positive, even if it doesn’t have a more tangible impact like more shows on campus or a more hospitable environment for rock musicians on campus. I think just having those connections is gonna make it stronger than not. Yeah, I dunno, I really do think that’s a great idea just because there’s – you’re right, there’s no connectivity between all of us. We just find each other from running into each other at the band room at the same time basically. And the radio station does seem to be, like, the leading player as far as bringing the bands together from what I’ve seen, this semester and last semester, at least. But it does seem like a great place to start because I think a lot of the people who do have this interest in rock music tend to gravitate towards the radio station. Um, so, yeah, I think that would be a great idea.

Keywords: Club; Connectivity; Hospitable