Scene interviews the winners of NAZZ
By MIKE SCHMUHL
Assistant Scene Editor
Tired of the same four CDs in your winter rotation as the snow pummels South Bend in early April? Don't worry. A fresh change has arrived to our arctic tundra with a fiery concoction of blues, soul, reggae, rock, hip-hop and funk. Originally playing at small parties around town, Notre Dame's own Station One just won the 2002 NAZZ (battle of the bands) and have started performing a few times each week.
Station One includes drummer Pete Miller (PM) from South Bend, his brother and guitarist David Miller (DM), keyboardist Mike Maimone (MM) from Cleveland, bassist Lee Elsey (LE) from Detroit and lead singer Lawrence Santiago (LS) from Guam via Louisiana. The Observer recently sat down with members of the group and talked about the band's past, future, imploding ceilings and their Taco Bell tradition.
Observer: How did Station One form?
LS: Well, I came here for a campus visit and my host family was the Millers. I knew that they played guitar and drums, so we went down to the basement and jammed a little bit. I was singing R&B over their punk, but we wanted to start a band when we got here our freshman year. We started the band as soon as we got here. It was just me, Pete and Dave. We started playing Acousticafé, but wanted a bass player and a keyboardist. Mike was in my dorm and I learned that he played keyboard, so I introduced him to these guys. Mike joined and we played some more at Acousticafé and we met our bassist Jeff McDonnell, who now is the lead singer for a new band.
MM: Our first song was "BB Mac." We started playing some at College Park. We played a lot of parties there and jam out for two hours, three hours, just on bongos and like five songs.
PM: We were called "The Island Boys" and then changed to "House Bound," then Station One. Jeff left the band and Lee joined this year.
Observer: Where do you get the name Station One?
LS: Station One's the name of a ghetto-booty club back in Louisiana. I never went, but it's a cool name.
Observer: What are your musical influences and style of music?
LE: I grew up listening to a lot of reggae, lots of blues; I'm really into BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, I like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, basically everything.
LS: A lot of people compare us to Sublime or 311. We pull from Ben Folds a lot, a lot of the guys like Ben Folds. There are a lot of punk rhythms. Back in the day we were pretty much pop.
DM: My influences back in high school were pretty much punk and ska. My brother and I played in a punk band. My main influences were like the Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Radiohead, but then I got more into reggae like Sublime and Marley.
MM: I kind of listen to everything. I liked rap when I was a little kid, but when I got to high school I started listening to Zeppelin, Dave Matthews, stuff like the Counting Crows. I'll pretty much listen to everything though.
PM: My influences are mainly Sublime, Marley, Led Zeppelin. In high school I only listened to Pennywise, Less Than Jake, Mustard Plug, Nirvana or any other ska or punk bands.
Observer: How did it feel to win battle of the bands (NAZZ)?
LS: (sighing) We didn't believe it at first. Last year it was such a big deal. This year there weren't any prizes, but it meant a lot. It really didn't sink in until we left the place and went to Taco Bell. That's like our tradition.
MM: I thought the Skammunists were really good, I mean they won it last year. My first reaction was there could have been no way we placed. When they said we won it, we were just amazed.
Observer: What is the key to a good live performance?
LE: The audience. If the crowd's not into it, it is really hard to play.
MM: From our perspective, we have to have energy. If we're not into what we're playing, the crowd will notice.
LE: It's hard at Acousticafé because everyone is studying and talking. We play best at small parties on the same floor, where it's dark, everybody's drinking and everybody's standing less than 10 feet away from us.
LS: And girls dancing on us.
Observer: Where can Notre Dame students find you guys performing?
PM: OK. We'll be playing … (pause)
LS: We keep getting shows that we don't know about!
PM: April 5 from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., we'll be playing downtown at Benchwarmer's with NIHM, who got second at battle of the bands. Admission there will be $3. We'll be playing Saturday, April 6 sometime between 1-5 at Knott on the Knoll. We'll also be playing that night at the Sophomore Class battle of the bands. We haven't found out what time we're playing, but it goes from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Next, we're playing Friday, April 12 with the Skammunists from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Higher Grounds on Washington Street. The cover there will be $5. That same night we'll be playing 11:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. at Stonehenge for the Junior Class event. Then, Saturday, April 13, we're playing the Hawaii Club Luau around 6:30 p.m.
Observer: Describe the band's greatest moment.
PM: It would have to be last year. We were playing at a big party for like 200 or 300 people. We were in the basement and the ceiling collapsed.
LS: So I dropped my mic and I ran.
MM: We were covering up the equipment. That was all we were worried about.
LS: That was the first night we got Taco Bell together (laughing). Our best performance was probably NAZZ. It was our most energetic. It was short and we played fast, but it was good. That was the first time we went to Taco Bell.
Observer: Do you have any advice for students who want to start a band?
LS and LE: Transfer to Business.
MM: I'm a business major and I always want to practice, but they can't.
LE: Between us, there are two architects, one pre-med major and one bio-chem major.
MM: Definitely get people who share the same type of schedule that you do. You'll be able to talk to each other all the time.
PM: Make sure you're friends with the other people. It's not going to work.
LS: Make sure you know what kind of sound you want to have. Otherwise, the music will go off into different directions.
Observer: What does the future hold for Station One?
MM: Lawrence is going to Rome next year for architecture. I'm going to London in the fall.
PM: The year that they're gone, at least until the spring, we're going to try and record some songs. As live performances go, we'll probably just screw around, maybe do some instrumental stuff. Maybe one of us will have to start singing.
LS: We're going to try, with the stuff we're recording now, maybe compile a demo CD, possibly sign to something small. Do something with that.
LE: We'll be able to develop our originals over a year too.
PM: We're planning on meeting over the summer to practice. Maybe play some bars or something.
Observer: Is there anything else Notre Dame should know about Station One?
LS: We have a Web site up now: www.station-one.net. We have T-Shirts on sale for $10 and CDs for $5.
Some of the band's music can be found online, like the catchy song "Rebel Children." The laid-back reggae vibe intertwines with Santiago's lyrical ease and leads to a crunchy-rock chorus: "Listen up can you give me your attention?/ Administration it needs correction/ I'm Everybody stand up for your right/ Everybody get up and fight."
Station One is not an act to miss. Many people may think the on campus music scene is dry and there's not much to see. Someone who's looking for a new, energetic and lively performance in a band should take the opportunity to see Station One at one of their upcoming shows. For booking information contact Peter Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Mike Schmuhl at email@example.com.
All Scene Stories for Wednesday, April 3, 2002