Following the Scramble Band dream is a journey loaded with landmines and deathtraps — claymores and pungi sticks designed to maim rather than kill. Most bands don’t end up successful. They usually top out playing a reunions party or two a year while the band members tough it out working at places like Google during the day. (Band members are good at math.) For most bands who do brave the pressure of stadiums and formations, the result is usually a list of a few recognizable songs that the world will never care about. The Princeton University Band, by grace of the band god’s, is yet to have been blown up by any landmines. (Well, the majority of them have not. Drum Major Emeritus Charlie Bergen ’07 lost his left leg below the knee last year after straying into a minefield near U Penn.)
On the contrary, after having recorded thier first EP during 2006, the Band has recently began recording their first full length album with the Princeton Music Dept.’s own Alex Kass, who is pretty much on the level of Rick Ruben, Phil Spectre, or Alan Parsons, because you can pay all those guys $20 to record your songs. Led by lead trumpet player Dave Zaslavsky and that kid who plays the guitar with the long hair, the Band is bringing back the fine art of stadium-grown college band.
For these boys and girls, making music is the end all. From California-born drummer Mary S. Fan, best known for blowing out eardrums during live performances, to Flagstaff resident trumpeter Alex “Farnard,” to Jeff Bagdis, the dumbest, this Band draws from different music scenes from all over the world. Trumpeter David Zaslavsky hails from Endwell, New York while guitarist long-haired guy grew up in the scatter-band fog of U Michigan. “Dave Z. brings the UMass Percussion Ensemble and the Orange Men Band of Syracuse while long-haried kid is always preaching the scatter,” explained Barnard. “We just all ended up in a room together banging on instruments…three hours later we had our first song, ‘Knock on Wood'” said long-haired guy of the Band’s creation. “Nothing worth listening to is ever forced or manufactured…the best things just happen,” according to Dave Z. After listening to the Band there is an immediate recognition of more of the same. There is a distinct quality and sound that is shared by every band in the country. Something with brass and pointless clarinets, but it’s still pretty much the same. You don’t know why, but you’ll find yourself singing the lyrics, but you probably do know why; it’s because the Band doesn’t have any lyrics and you are schizophrenic.
The Band has already performed at some of the Princeton sports venues, namely the stadium, the gymnasium, and most recently Frist. They also performed at the annual ‘Bonfire’ event on Cannon Green hosted by the USG. The Band is the first band ever to be asked to perform inside the stadium. When asked about the live acoustic performance, Fan said that “it was an awesome experience because we were playing for the exact same audience that we always do.” The Band is scheduled to play the stadium another 6,000 times this year.
What lies in the future for these Princetonians? They are taking major steps towards establishing themselves as a Band worthy of college band attention. “This album is our Sistine chapel, we have one shot to make something really worthwhile and let it out to the world,” said Zaslavsky. I asked the Band what it was that drove them to put out an industry-level production while handling the rigors of the number one University in the country; the answer was simple. Zaslavsky explained, “Every one of us has made sacrifices but when we got together we agreed to take a chance and make the music we always wanted to hear. In the meantime we are taking a shot at our dream. We’re just hoping we don’t hit a f@$#%$# @#$%!@$*@!# landmine in the process…like Charlie, poor guy.” Go to the Band’s website www.princeton.edu/~puband/ or even better try to catch these guys live, they do not dissapoint. Check them out on February 24th at Jadwin Gym and Reunions. Look for the Band album which will be out never.