Drum Corps International
The DCI.org interview: Cadets' drum majors Matt Haines and Will Plenk

The DCI.org interview: Cadets' drum majors Matt Haines and Will Plenk

by Drum Corps International

DCI.org: Give us your name, hometown, and the corps you're marching with. Plenk:My name is William Joseph Plenk. I am from Lindenhurst, Long Island, N.Y., and I am a member of the Cadets from Garfield, I mean Bergenfield, I mean Bergen County, I mean Hackensack, I mean YEA!, I mean Allentown ... ? This is my third year with the corps, my first being 2001 (I took 2002 off). Haines: *nods* My name is Matthew Kurt Haines and I am from Holbrook, Long Island, N.Y. I am also a member of the Cadets and this is my fourth season in the corps. My first season was 2001, as well. I, unlike Will, had the drive and commitment to stick with the Cadets after my rookie season rather than admitting to the world that I'm a quitter and later realizing my mistake before I crawled back to the corps in 2003 with my tail between my legs.

Matt Haines (left) and Will Plenk
Plenk: I hate you Matt. I don't have a tail. DCI.org: Where do you go to school, and what extracurricular activities are you involved with there? Haines: We both go to school at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y. No, this is not the same school you saw in the movie "Road Trip." There is no such thing as Ithaca University and the campus show in the movie is not ours. Here at Ithaca, I am involved in Pinnacle Brass, a quintet that formed my freshman year with four other students. We have been together for two and a half years and have toured the great state of Maine as well as performed at a conference in Germany. I am also in the Ithaca College Trombone Troupe, a 28-member trombone ensemble. Plenk: Matt, my trusted comrade, you seem to have forgotten "Fusion," the brass theater group we started last semester. It's a lot of work arranging music, writing drill, and teaching people who have never marched to move and play at the same time. Aside from that, I myself am also in a brass quintet. We call ourselves Cynical Brass, as a mockery of the name Pinnacle Brass. I also play in a tuba quartet. Haines: We're nerds, aren't we? Plenk: Indeed. DCI.org: Give us your full drum corps/marching music background, and how each position prepared you for the leadership role you're in this summer.
Plenk: My first experience marching was a parade in 5th grade, where I played "Armed Forces Salute" on a fiberglass Sousaphone with a big green "L" painted on the bell. This continued until the 9th grade when I joined my high school marching band, the Lindenhurst Bulldogs. We were a competitive band, often meeting up with the band in which Matt was a member. The summer following my junior year I marched in the Cadets, and my return to high school band came with my first leadership position, "wind captain." Here I learned basic ideas on how to effectively motivate my peers toward a common goal. Now I am drum major of the Cadets ... a natural progression. Haines: So if you want to be drum major of the Cadets you should move to Lindenhurst and become "wind captain?" Plenk: Apparently. Haines: My story is much more interesting. I started marching in my 7th-grade parade band. We waddled down the street playing "Anchors Aweigh." I couldn't remember the whole song so I taped the music to the bell of my trombone. Now I'm drum major of rhe Cadets. Plenk: Is that all? Haines: Well ... no, but it would make a great story. In 9th grade I joined the Sachem Flaming Arrows (laugh it up) from Lake Ronkonkoma (keep laughing), N.Y. Will finds this pretty funny, however in the three years that Will and I were in direct competition -- Will, why don't you tell the readers how many times you beat me? Plenk: ... Haines: How many? Plenk: ... Haines: That's what I thought. Moving on ... During my third and fourth years in the Flaming Arrows I was drum major. While being drum major of a high school marching band and the Cadets have their differences, the responsibility of acting as a liaison between the administration, staff and members remains. In this one instance I will agree with Will; I learned many valuable lessons in leadership.

DCI.org: The last good book I read: Haines: "The Fellowship of the Ring" by Tolkien. I'm a big "Lord of the Rings" fan. Plenk: "Cuban Music" by the brilliant Maya Roy. Yes. DCI.org: The last great film I saw: Plenk: "Braveheart" Haines: Are you kidding me? While "Braveheart" is a fantastic movie, you're forgetting about "The Return of the King!" You didn't like it? Plenk: Oh I enjoyed it immensely. However, they asked us what the LAST great film we saw was. I viewed "The Return of the King" on approximately December 20. I saw "Braveheart" only two days ago. Haines: I stand corrected. Plenk: Boo Ya! DCI.org: Three CDs I'd want on a deserted island: Haines: Jethro Tull, "Living in the Past." That's it -- it's the only one I'd bring on the island. Plenk: You're lying. Haines: Right. Actually, I'd take "0Styx Greatest Hits," Billy Joel's "Cold Spring Harbor" and the "Braveheart" soundtrack. Plenk: You always made me put that CD in on the way to camps last year. Haines: Yeah! Remember I would try to time the "FREEEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDDDOOOOMMMMMMmmmmmm" yell perfectly with the music? It was all practice for tour. When we watched the movie on the horn bus, I nailed the yell perfectly. Plenk: That you did. And everyone hated you for waking them up, but I ... I was proud. My three CDs for my island are "The Best of Parliament Funk," Ben Folds Five's "Forever and Ever Amen," and "John Williams Greatest Hits" disc two. DCI.org: My favorite TV show: Plenk: "Diff'rent Strokes" Haines: "Iron Chef." Who will it be? The seasoned veteran, Iron Chef Italy or the lowly push cart chef? Who will be the King of Cuisine? The pumpkin prince? Plenk: What are you talking about? Haines: "WHICH IRON CHEF WILL REIGN SUPREME???" *ehem* OK I'm done.
DCI.org: Favorite performers: Plenk: Gary Coleman rocks my world. California made the biggest mistake in its existence. I would follow Gary to my death. Haines: That little guy that always wins the hot dog eating contests. That's incredible! One time he lost and he thought he disgraced his family. That's dedication. DCI.org: How do you "blow off steam?" Plenk: My tuba -- hitting it. Haines: Will does tend to hit things when he gets really mad. Actually, when we were driving back to Ithaca from the 2003 Cadets banquet, we hit this really intense blizzard. We were driving 20 mph almost the entire way from Philly in a 1989 rear-wheel drive Volvo. We were frustrated, but our time with the Cadets taught us how to choose our attitudes. There was nothing we could do about the snowstorm, so we just took it in stride. However, 30 miles from Ithaca we attempted to get off at our exit. Much to our chagrin there was a coach bus stopped on the entrance of the ramp. At this point, Will either a) did not choose his attitude or b) chose to freak out. He slammed the steering wheel pretty hard, and we drove in silence for the next hour and a half (when we reached the next exit to turn around). DCI.org: What is your role in the corps this summer? Plenk: I run the Dr. Beat. I can program it now. Yay. Haines: We also wake up the corps in the morning. Wait until we decide to wake the corps up WITH the Dr. Beat. DCI.org: Why I march with the corps I am in: Haines: I was watching the 1997 DCI on PBS special. The Cadets moved really fast! It also helped that Long Island was close to New Jersey. I had a friend that marched here in 1999, so that kind of sealed the deal for me. Now that I'm here, I have better reasons for staying. I love the work ethic. Through this corps I have learned to work harder than I ever imagined, and I'm sure there is still more potential to discover. Plenk: Well, my friends were auditioning, and I jumped on the bandwagon. At the time I didn't really know much about the Cadets other than they played loud and moved fast. However, with the corps, I've learned countless life lessons (work ethic, setting goals, that things will never work out unless you go at it full throttle, and I'm still figuring out the attitude-choosing thing) while playing loud and moving fast. DCI.org: Was it always your goal to be in a leadership role? Plenk: There is no audition process for becoming a leader at the Cadets. George Hopkins believes that leaders step into their roles long before they are appointed. Haines: There are many people in the Cadets organization that make incredible leaders. We're honored to represent a group of people we think so highly of. DCI.org: How will you go about balancing the roles of leader and corpsmate? Haines: The members of this corps are some of our best friends. We think it would be ridiculous for us to act as anything other than this. Plenk: We have found that simply maintaining the relationship we've had with these people has been the most natural and, so far, effective way of taking on this role. We stay friendly and accessible, but when the time comes that we need to ask our friends to do something for us they return that respect. Haines: Honestly, this hasn't seemed like much of an issue. Our friends are great; maybe they're just making it really easy on us. DCI.org: What has been your formative drum corps moment? Plenk: At DCI Championships in 2001, a boy named Justin stopped by our warmup. He was there by the grace of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It was his wish that he could come to a Cadets' warmup, and sit front row for our final three performances. This experience brought the activity to a whole new level for me. The fact that something I was a part of meant so much to even one person was incredibly impactful. Haines: 2002 DCI East in Philadelphia. We were playing a victory concert that was getting crowd response like I hadn't heard before. In 2002 we would end our encores with the last half of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." It always got a big reaction, but the one that night was incredible. Well over 10,000 people were on their feet going nuts for us and it felt great. Then the cheers became a chant of "One more time ... one more time ... " We were just about to leave the field when George Hopkins told us to turn back around and play "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" again. The place erupted. When we got to the final jam out section with the "Barry Manilow" modulation we charged the stands. There were Cadets spread throughout the entire lower deck of the crowd. he connection we had to the crowd at the moment was something I will never forget. DCI.org: Best drum corps show ever: Haines: They weren't the cleanest corps ever, but the 1989 Cadets (Les Miserables) seemed like an extremely emotionally charged performance. I also love '96 Blue Devils and '89 Phantom Regiment. Plenk: '99 Cadets -- so good. Moving at over 220 beats per minute for over two minutes has to be good for something. Cavaliers '95 Dustin Winson; Cavaliers drum major turned Cadets brass staff. DCI.org: What are you most looking forward to about the summer? Plenk: I am looking forward to experiencing drum corps from an entirely new perspective, and taking on a role that will challenge me to perform at levels I've never even imagined. Already this year has been unlike anything I've done before. Haines: I am in love with the concepts of management; I look forward to engaging these tasks on a daily basis. I also can't wait to say the phrase "Get on the bus" upwards of 10,000 times. DCI.org: Best thing about being a drum corps leader: Haines: Being the person that people in the organization come to for advice. Being allowed to represent one of the greatest drum corps of all time is not too shabby, either. Plenk: The best thing about being a leader is being pushed to do things beyond your normal boundaries. Constantly being tested, although sometimes aggravating, is a good character-builder. A good example of this is taking part in a DCI.org interview at 2 in the morning. DCI.org: Worst thing about being a drum corps leader: Plenk: Tom Aungst; A fearful legend. Tough love at its best. It was my first ensemble rehearsal and he was ruthless to the both of us. Nice guy ... but ruthless. Haines: Standing on the podium. I haven't done it yet, but I can only imagine. I'm pretty terrified of heights. When the weather gets warmer, Will and I are going to go outside and set up the podium to do a test run. Plenk: I'm going to shake the podium until you cry. Haines: I'm thinking about going to a hypnotist to figure that out. DCI.org: During tour, the best part of the day is: Haines: Waking the corps up to Vanilla Ice, Star Wars Disco, and other great hits of the '70s, '80s and today. Being in front of thousands of cheering fans is pretty cool as well -- just not when you're on the podium and are afraid of heights. Plenk: Waking Matt up. DCI.org: During tour, the worst part of the day is: Plenk: Marching basics ... oh wait, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Haines: HAHAHAHA! DCI.org: Favorite drum corps personality and why: Plenk: Tom Aungst -- just in case he reads this interview. Haines: There was this guy in Jacksonville, Ala., that stood up throughout our entire show and yelled things like "Now that's drum corps" during the middle of Will's tuba solo. He was awesome, but not really famous I guess. I like Michael Cesario too. He comes out with some pretty memorable quotes. DCI.org: What do you want to be when your drum corps career is over? Haines: It's never really going to end. We plan on staying involved in the activity and possibly managing a drum corps of our own someday. DCI.org: Final Thoughts? Plenk: I am tired. Haines: Will is the worst typist -- EVER. It took him at least four tries to spell "George" correctly. Wow -- it's really late. But it's OK because we don't have to march basics anymore -- HAHAHAHAHAHA. Plenk: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA Haines: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Plenk: HAHAH chuckle chuckle *ahem*   ---silence-- *grin*

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