Album Release: Word On The Street

Word on the Street is an experimental band made up of eight Macalester students: Charlie Stanton ’15, Geoff Willis ’15, Perry Campbell ’15, Sherif Tawfik ’14, Isaac Mathison-Bowie ’15, Sam Faulkner ’15, Rob Granfelt ’15, and Maya Vilaplana ’14. The band formed in February 2012 and, shortly after, won Battle of the Bands for the chance to play at SpringFest. Since then, the band has booked more gigs, written more songs, and now they have come out with their first full-length album, “84 North, 16 West.” The Mac Weekly sat down with Stanton, Tawfik and Mathison-Bowie to talk about their music, each other, and how it feels to release an eight-track album.

Tell me about your album.

IMB: The album represents probably about a year of work together as a band. It’s eight tracks. We’re hoping that it really captures the spirit of Word on the Street.

CS: We all come from very different musical backgrounds and there’s just a whole bunch of different stuff. It’s kind of weird, I’ve heard that from some people.

ST: But that’s kind of a good thing, I think.

Have you given friends and family a preview?

CS: Yeah, my dad’s listened to it, my brother, and I think they like it. What’s cool is I think that there are so many different genres of music involved that people can kind of pick and choose, at least, if the whole thing’s not for them, then the parts that they like.

IMB: The whole thing is pretty eclectic, it’s kind of a party record. It’s a record for playing loudly while you’re drunk with your friends, for the most part. We have some more sensitive stuff too, but at the end of the day it all kind of ends up picking up into a big cacophony.

Which members of the band were involved? Did you include Maya [who was not part of the band when it was formed in 2012]?

CS: Oh totally!

IMB: We wouldn’t be anything without Maya.

CS: Honestly Maya really kind of made us into a band. We all loved playing music together, we had songs, but she makes us sound like a band.

ST: I feel like having a singer kind of grounds the band to make it more, less weird, more listenable… although I think our stuff is pretty listenable.

IMB: Maya is the light of my life. You can put that on record.

CS: She’s only done a couple shows with us but the ones that we’re doing this semester, our band really showcases her during live shows. Maya’s been key.

IMB: To quote Maya, “She brings some color to WOTS.” Literally and figuratively.

Can you guys explain what everyone’s role is in the band?

CS: Perry plays trombone, and he’s definitely the band clown. The shit that comes out of his mouth is astounding, but he’s a damn good trombone player.

ST: Geoff comes up with the coolest baselines.

IMB: Geoff’s probably the most important part of the band.

CS: Geoff’s incredibly important, but also one of the spaciest people I’ve ever met. He provides this element of the musical genius but also his head is 100 percent in the clouds. Rob Granfelt ’15 just makes noise on the drums.

What happened to having two drum sets?

CS: Our good friend Nick Mirza transferred after sophomore year, and we love him, but it’s a really good thing we don’t have two people that play drums anymore. Isaac, how would you characterize Rob?

IMB: Most of the people in the band are pretty laid-back, but also pretty self-absorbed. With the exception of Sherif, and maybe Geoff. Rob definitely can be happy to groove along with shit, but he definitely has some real serious opinions about it, and he wants to make sure that his instrumentation and talent get highlighted, for sure.

CS: Sam probably would win “Most Improved,” and I hate doing that but… now he’s a stud! When you listen to the track you’ll see.

IMB: Sam’s just on another level, creatively, as far as writing verses. He comes up with some real literary shit.

ST: He came up with… something like “I’m Skitttles? Kibbles…?” Oh! “Kittens nibblin’ on Skittles, Kibbles, Bits and riddles.”

CS: Oh yeah, he’s really creative.

IMB: He also really does go with the flow.

CS: And then Maya’s a goddess.

IMB: She’s so upbeat about what we do. It’s really helpful. And Sherif’s holding it down, dude. He plays in the pocket a lot, and when he has a chance to be in the spotlight he rips it [on the guitar], which I really enjoy. Sherif, you wanna define Isaac?

ST: Isaac, I think you really get the audience going.

CS: You have some of the best stage presence of anyone in the band.

IMB: I’m also chief shit-talker. And Charlie, I think you really hold it down with the sax. We’ve got a lot of strong opinions coming out of our horn section a lot of the time. It’s cool that you and Perry work so well together to come up with creative licks. The longer the song is gestating I think both of you really figure it out. I also like it because you’re like Perry’s older brother when he’s being a fuckin clown.

When you formed the group a year and a half ago, where did you envision it going? And was that different from where it ended up?

CS: Well, it sort of started out with me and Geoff and Perry, we all lived on the same floor and we just played. I just got into some really new music and I wanted to transfer it over to something real. And then we got Sherif in with us, and then Nick, who was replaced by Rob, and then we talked to Isaac, who talked to Sam, and then they got in, and then Maya came, and then that’s when things seemed more real in terms of us being a real band. But I’d say this is kind of best-case scenario. We’ve done so many cool things with this.

ST: I feel like it really snowballed. And how it started small and ended up with eight people.

CS: What’s interesting too is that I feel like a lot of bands are—they’re a band, but they’re really just best friends. And I’d be lying if I said this band were just comprised of best friends. We all love playing music together, and we’re all very good friends. But it’s not traditional, in that we all come together to play music, but we won’t always see each other in between practices, even.

IMB: Sam’s my best friend. I’ll say that on record.

CS: We all love each other, but….

IMB: But it’s a cool way to—like, I probably wouldn’t have ever hung out with Sherif if this band hadn’t happened, and same thing with Maya, I had no idea who she was.

CS: Yeah I didn’t know she went to this school!

IMB: It’s cool too because Perry, Charlie, Geoff and I lived on the same floor freshman year, and so it’s kind of a fun continuation of the legacy of Turck 3. Originally I think you guys [Geoff, Charlie and Perry] just asked Sam and I to rap with you because you wanted to do Springfest, and I thought you guys just wanted people to be like, shoutin’, while you guys were playing your instruments. I didn’t really have any long-term ideas about it.

CS: Yeah, we weren’t really sure where Sam and Isaac really fit in when they started in the band, but they were awesome, so we were like, “OK.”

IMB: Ladies loved it.

CS: They did. And what’s fun about our shows is that we all know different people, so we get a pretty diverse crowd at our shows, from just friends and people we know on campus, which is fun.

If you wanted to tell readers one thing that would encourage them to go listen to your album what would it be? CS: I’d say our music is meant to make people dance, so it will make people dance, make people feel good. ST: It definitely puts me…it’ll put you in a good mood. IMB: If you put our record on at a party this weekend, I guarantee you won’t go home alone. CS: Especially if Maya’s singing.

To listen to WOTS’s album, “84 North, 16 West,” visit