“When do you ever see the people who made the music you're playing play that music live?”
With spring training coming to a close, members and staff of the Bluecoats were treated with a “thanks” in the form of a private concert from Thank You Scientist, a progressive rock ensemble comprised of seven musically-diverse individuals. The band members were more than happy to entertain the corps which will perform arrangements of two of their pieces this summer.
It was Bluecoats executive director David Glasgow who originally reached out to the band on Facebook to gauge their interest in coming out to perform for corps members at their rehearsal site at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. He knew the group played a lot of smaller venues in the past.
“They really did everything they could to suit our needs,” he said. “I thought it was going to be difficult to nail them down. But they asked what day we wanted them and everything ended up falling into place.”
Salvatore Marrino, the lead singer of the New Jersey-based group, listened to the Bluecoats rehearse earlier in the afternoon before the concert. As part of a collective which is relatively unfamiliar to the drum corps activity, it was an eye-opening experience, he said.
“Tom (Monda) and myself, we kind of shed a couple tears—It was overwhelming,” he said.
Since first finding out that the Bluecoats will feature Thank You Scientist's music as part of their competitive production this summer, Marrino said the excitement of seeing his band's music played by the corps has continuously swelled.
“About a month ago when (the Bluecoats) put out their teaser video … That's when I was like ‘Oh wow, this is the real deal—this is really happening.”
Marrino said he initially struggled to grasp just how impactful seeing an all-out run-through of the Bluecoats' performance would be to him and the band.
“I said I don't know how I'm going to react seeing it because I know the scale and also the quality of the musicians,” he said. “Trying to imagine how it was going to sound, I'm getting overwhelmed just thinking about it … Then seeing it. It's tugging on the heartstrings a little bit.”
During the band's performance, Marrino took a moment between songs to express to the corps members how highly he thinks of them and their musical skills.
“We play for some pretty big crowds, but this is the most nervous we've ever been,”' he said.
As the performance progressed in Denison University's field house, the corps members jammed along as if in a real concert venue. Moving to the music, they offering an especially huge round of applause when Thank You Scientist played “Psychopomp,” one of the band's pieces featured in the corps' repertoire.
Jeremy Hunter, a second-year baritone player for the Bluecoats found his way to the front row for the duration of the concert.
While Thank You Scientist's songs feature many odd-metered phrases, Hunter said it was easy to rock along, regardless.
“I'm kind of used to it—I listen to a lot of math rock,” he said. “I'm used to listening to stuff like in 11/4 or 19/8 time signatures … I think that's my favorite part.”
The general reaction of the corps to the day's event, Hunter said, was one of gratefulness and awe.
“I think everyone's minds are blown because, first off, when do you ever go to any type of concert during drum corps season?” he said. “And secondly, when do you ever see the people who made the music you're playing play that music live?”
As the band's assistants began packing up equipment, everyone had gathered closer for a Q-and-A session where Thank You Scientist's members introduced themselves and shared musical wisdom and experiences with the corps members.
Following, the corps began to prepare for yet another block of rehearsal dedicated to putting the final touches on their yet-to-be-revealed production before the DCI Tour Premiere on Thursday.
“We just finished putting everything together,” Hunter said. “All the pieces are finally in their places and we just had our first full run with everything working the way it's supposed to and everything was awesome.”
Reflecting at the end of the concert, executive director David Glasgow said an important moment had happened between the band and his corps members.
“We really want the band to be a part of our performance and come along for the ride with us,” he said. “I think the band members had no idea what to expect, but I think they were pretty blown away that we took their music and kind of took it in a totally different direction. And then the performers got to meet the artists whose music they'll be performing all summer. It was an incredibly unique experience.”