By Claire Klodell, Contributor
Of anyone, professors have one of the most preconceived notions of who they should be.
When I was in elementary school, my gym teacher told us he was an ex-member of The Backstreet Boys and I believed him. That being said, I was also the kid who thought Aéropostale was the Spanish brand of Abercrombie, so I was prone to believing anything. Little did I know that a few years later, I would meet professors who were actually in bands, and not establishing an elaborate lie.
“I had one teacher as a kid who claimed they were friends with the tooth fairy when I was in second grade. My tooth fell out in school, and they were going to tell the tooth fairy to come to my house that night and give me the financial windfall that comes from losing teeth,” confessed Justin Holub, a biochemistry professor and member of folk-punk band, Minor Profits.
At least I was not alone in falling for false truths.
Professor Holub discovered his love for music with a transcendental moment at an incredibly young age.
“It was probably when I was about six-years-old,” he recollected. “I had a little record player, and there were these songs that would play on there, it wasn’t really Raffi, but still little kid songs. My mom would tell me I loved doing that rather than watching TV, or playing with other toys. I was very much interested in listening to music, or dancing around, rather than playing with other things. When I was listening to records as a kid, I realized I really wanted to play an instrument. I didn’t just want to be a listener, I wanted to create and be a part of a collective environment of playing music.”
Minor Profits drew the inspiration for their name from opposing the consumerist society we live in, and referencing the minor key itself.
“None of us are really, at all, interested in monetary gain from this. We’re very interested in music as a social tool. We believe in making the world a better place through music. It’s just a play on the fact that we’re not really interested in major profits coming from this entire project.”
“No, it was not my idea to self-title my band,” he claimed. “We started playing, and people started asking us ‘What’s the name of the band?’ so we just said ‘Bob Stewart and Friends.’ I was the one who wrote the songs and did a lot of setting up. Finally, one night, we got up to play, and the first guy I play guitar with goes, ‘Bob, let’s just call it the Bob Stewart Band.’”
When I asked him if the other members of his band wish it were named after them, Professor Stewart shook his head.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “In a way it sounds pretentious, but at least I won’t forget the name of the band. If one of them dropped out, I’d replace them. But if I dropped out, the band would be done.”
Professor Stewart can be found either listening to his original songs or his muse, Bob Dylan. Back in the day, Stewart knew he wanted to become a musician when he was eight or nine years old.
“There were a lot of teenage guys who were missionary kids, and I was friends with their younger brothers. The older boys were always playing guitar, and singing. They always looked like they were pretty put together. They had girls, basically,” Stewart claimed. “Even though I don’t think I ever consciously thought, ‘play guitar, and meet girls,’ it was a factor, and I’m sure a lot of guys will tell you that story. It resonates with a lot of guys. You’re always looking for some way to not be a dork.”
Well, at least he was honest. It was comical to imagine my professor as a try-hard in the midst of his childhood.
Even now, Professor Stewart continues to maintain a close relationship with the people he plays music with. He proceeded to show me an exchange of text messages between him and his bandmate, Zeke. Unfortunately, he was not able to draw his bandmate out of his existential abyss after the election.
Professor Holub expressed the importance of his relationship with his bandmates when he created his six-word story, drawing inspiration from Ernest Hemingway.
“This might be a little cliché, but I would say: Josh, Stephanie, Justin, Paul, Dylan, Ian. The thing about it is, we’re very eclectic in the context that we come from. We’re from all different backgrounds. We have people coming from metal bands. We have people coming from funk bands, and from folk bands. At the end of the day, we have an eclectic sound, which I hope people are interested in hearing,” he claimed.
Multitasking between teaching and playing music doesn’t seem like a problem for either of the two.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s troubling, but I would say it is somewhat tiring. I make time to do things with music. I almost don’t see an exclusivity between science and music. On some level with my science, I’m also creating. I’m in a position right now where I’m able to design experiments and be involved in the mentorship and guidance in the next generation of scientists. In that sense, I feel like it’s also rather influential, and rather important for my responsibility. I feel the same way about music,” said Professor Holub.
“You’ll never see me with headphones on. I’ll always have music in my head,” claims Professor Stewart. “It comes in waves. It comes as needed. When I need it, it’s there. When I don’t, it’s waiting for me.”