December was a somber time for many in the Wesleyan community in the light of news of Claire Randall ’12‘s untimely passing due to a horrific act of gun violence. Around a week ago, Nate Mondschein ’12 posted a public status on Facebook announcing the release of Trot Fox’s cover of The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize?” The rendition is led by Claire as lead vocalist, and is truly a poignant reminder of the talents that she shared with so many.
Back in the spring of 2016, Claire, Nate, and other members of Trot Fox Gabe Gordon ’11 and Declan O’Connell recorded the first version of the cover during a one-day session at Converse Rubber Tracks Studio in Brooklyn. The initial recording was recorded in a single take and, according to Nate, “Claire delivered what remains one of the most honest, astonishingly powerful performances I have ever heard her give.”
The final version of the “Do You Realize” was produced after Claire’s passing, with the help of 30 of her friends and family.
Dear Wesleyan, I have a confession. I haven’t been as involved with the music scene as I would have liked. It’s not that I didn’t know about when concerts were happening – I lived across the street from Eclectic for two years – I just never got in the habit of incorporating “go to [insert band name here] concert” into my Friday and Saturday night schedules. But if there was ever an exception, and there is always an exception, it was for the soul-grabbing, dance-inducing, heart-pumping rhythms of The Rooks.
Seeing as my concert track record is so poor, it’s a miracle I went to a Rooks concert in the first place, but after I did, I never missed a performance. So imagine my sadness when, eventually, all the band members graduated, and The Rooks migrated elsewhere, performing their music in a place with far too long a commute for me to attend.
But then, a miracle! I was up at Middlebury, visiting my sister with my dad for her parent’s weekend. We were looking over the schedule of events for families, and I saw a concert listing for “The Rooks”. At first, I was incredulous. Could this be the Wesleyan Rooks? Was I just so desperate for their music that I was hallucinating phantom shows? Either way, I had to see for myself. My sister gave me directions to the Middlebury version of Usdan as she prepared for a party, and I made my way across campus, guided the final few meters by a musical sound that couldn’t be anything except what I wanted it to be.
“I don’t think we would have the same chance in this city if we went to any other school or formed in any other way. It had to be Wesleyan.”
Forget MGMT. Amanda Who? Das What? Wesleyan’s biggest hype band is The Rooks, a six-piece R&B/indie-soul band made up of a group of friends and members of the Classes of 2011 and 2012. The majority of them have settled in New York City after graduating, and since then, the band has released a handful of singles and now – finally – their debut studio EP, Something You Can Take. The album, now on Bandcamp for your free download enjoyment, is a must-hear for anyone who has a taste for classic rhythm and blues, hip-hop, indie rock, or really has ears at all. And, if you’re in the NYC area this Friday, June 21, The Rooks will be playing Fat Baby at 10 PM, so you can experience them live.
I had the opportunity to sit down for a Google Hangout with The Rooks frontman/lead singer Garth Taylor ’12 and drummer Nate Mondschein ’12 to talk about their new album, the forming of the band, the support of the Wesleyan community, and the difficulties of labeling a music style.
Now I know you might still be trying to wake up from your 13-hour weekend slumber/13-hour rage-a-thon-with-a-fuzzy-purple-pogo-stick, but I highly encourage you to pop an aspirin, grab a cup of coffee and huddle over here because I’ve got something shiny and new for you today.
Sexy beast extraordinaire Garth Taylor ’12 (which, as you may or may not know, is a housemate of AJ “Big Bird” Hinds ’12 and whose smooth, smooth shows with Mad Wow tickles my knees), writes in to tell us about this new band he’s been jamming with: The Rooks. The band is composed of Mr. Taylor, Gabe Gordon ’11, Graham Richman ’11, Louis Russo ’11, Nate Mondschein ’12, & Spencer Hattendorf ’12.
Want more info? Click here, or check after the jump.
The weSLAM team is currently in Ann Arbor, Michigan at CUPSI (the national collegiate slam). This is a short film following the team from its inception and growth to its victory at the Wade Lewis Poetry Slam Invitational (WLPSI) and preparations for CUPSI in April 2011. Big ups to everybody who helped out, the weSLAM family, and all the students at Wes who have supported the team and come out to the slams here. Good luck!
Our immediate slamily, along with their coach, Morgan Hill ’14 (second from left).
(Not pictured: Randyl Wilkerson ’12, desperately missed at this moment.)
Wesleyan has taken 1st place at the Wade-Lewis Poetry Slam Invitational at SUNY New Paltz. An account follows.
The first night of WLPSI (Friday, March 5th) saw Wesleyan competing against NYU and UMinn-Macalester, and the finals (Saturday, March 6th) saw Wes competing against Brown, SUNY Oneonta, and UMinn-Macalester.
But on Saturday night, there was a tie between the final two teams. Just as shocking? One of the teams, University of Minnesota, is a veteran, well established in the slam world since its inception, while the other, Wesleyan, is a bouncing baby ze, having only started this year.