Band instructor Paul Vesilind practices his musical talent in more ways than just teaching. For 10 years he jammed in Los Angeles in his band Service.
Vesilind’s childhood influenced his interest in and appreciation for music.
“I grew up in a musical household,” Vesilind said.
In junior high, Vesilind saw the 4-member band Van Halen at the capitol center.
“It changed my life,” Vesilind said. “From eighth grade on I was hell-bent on becoming a rockstar.”
Vesilind played trumpet and was “singing in bands all the way through high school,” eventually earning his college music degree.
In addition to Van Halen, singer-songwriter Paul Rogers and 1970’s rock band Rush served as constant inspiration for Vesilind.
“It’s just good stuff,” Vesilind said, adding that they were “big influences on me as a kid.”
His students also play a central role in his love for music, as they express their interests in bands and songs of today and of the past.
Being in a band positively affects his relationship with students. “Sometimes they are surprised,” said Vesilind. But “it gives me a little street cred.”
Students look him up on YouTube, especially his official song Diamond Rings, which his band Service recorded in Los Angeles.
“It felt like the real thing,” Vesilind said of filming a music video for the song.
The band members decided on Service as their name because it was the one thing they could agree on. According to Vesilind, “the sound of the band is what becomes the name.”
Music is an instrumental part of his life.
“Pick up an instrument, get your buddies together and play,” Vesilind said.
Around school, English teacher Walter Miller is known for his in-depth band and music experiences, involving his past involvement in the WD Miller Band.
Currently, Miller works solo; the WD Miller Band was formed with musicians he met after playing a show at Jammin’ Java.
The WD Miller Band won a local contest for Favorite Band in the Washington, D.C. Area. Featured on the local Fox station to play in honor of their win were drummer Reid Saunders, singer Patty Williams, and guitarists Peter Locke, Blayne Beeler, and Miller himself.
“We told all our fans to vote, and I got all my students to vote, and we won,” Miller said.
Inspiration for his songs and music comes from a variety of places.
Miller grew up listening to the Beatles and the Beach Boys; his all-time favorite songs are “I Feel Fine” by the Beatles and “Kiss Me Baby” by the Beach Boys.
“Those are my two strongest influences,” Miller said of the bands.
Once in High School, Miller came to love California pop: the Eagles; America; Bread; and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
According to Miller, his students “love the song ‘Supergirl,’ a homage to 60’s AM pop radio.”
Miller does not think his students focus intensely on his musical background and band. He knows there is information on the Internet about his band, and does not think it is weird if students look him up on the web.
“For one day they’re kind of surprised,” Miller said. “After that there is more homework.”
Miller is “very excited” to be in the process of adding to his current catalogue of 250 songs: his third CD comes out this spring on iTunes and CDBaby. The working title is Daytona Blue.
“I’m not a great singer or guitar player, but I like my writing,” Miller said.
English teacher Matthew Horne isn’t in a band in the strictest sense.
“I make music in my basement with people who might be around,” Horne said. “Generally this includes myself and anyone other than that is extra. Oftentimes a song will just be me playing everything .”
Horne started the band No Sunlite for the Media in high school with two of his friends.
As he grew older, his band became a “revolving door” of members.
Currently, the core members besides himself are his wife Jana, his old roommate Monica and his friend Tripp.
Two years ago Horne’s brother died, and he renamed the band Maintain the Light in order to have a more positive outlook on life.
“[No Sunlite For the Media] is a terrible name and it’s very negative and it’s very punk rock and it’s very angry and it’s very high school,” Horne said, “so now that I’m a 30-year-old man it’s time to maintain the light instead of just being no sunlight, angry all the time.”
Horne even has a YouTube channel, Sellmeagod, where he posts instructional videos for his classes, music videos and home movies.
Curious students frequently visit his YouTube page once they find out he is in a band.
“Eventually everybody finds out; it happens faster and faster each year. I guess because social media gets better,” Horne said. “They think it’s really funny to raise their hand and be like, ‘Who’s in charge of the charging rhino?’”
Sophomore Quiana Dang is one of Horne’s students, and admits she has been through his videos.
“I see these videos and I think to myself, ‘Why wasn’t I that cool when I was a freshman?’” Dang said. “Now I feel that I should join a band and make really weird videos and post them on YouTube 10 years later.”
“Rhino” is one of the many songs Horne has written, and the most widely recognized. Horne said that he did not start writing actual songs until the end of high school; the band started as a way of making fun of real, serious bands.
“It started in high school as kind of a joke because we were frustrated with all the bands, other high school bands that were really serious,” Horne said. “They were like, ‘Oh, I’m in a band, I play the guitar and stuff,’ and we were like, ‘You guys are so wack.’”
Until they started playing real songs, the band would just go out on stage and make a lot of noise.
“We’d go up there and just act like total fools and not have songs, and that was kind of like our artistic statement,” Horne said.
Horne says his musical inspirations are punk rock, hip-hop, and 1920s folk music.
He also likes plunderphonics, or sample music, which is when people take clips from existing music and use them to create their own work.
Now, Maintain the Light emphasizes its folk roots.
“It ends up sounding like low-fi indie rock,” Horne said.