Payoff eventually arrived. The band signed
to StarTime, a heavy-hitting indie label based in Brooklyn. Vanity
Fair and Interview magazines took notice. The Kicks were
featured on an MTV ad, and in February, landed a gig playing two
songs on the Carson Daly show.
As to the question of why there are so many great
Oberlin bands, Stinchcomb credits the Conservatory, which he says
has an enormous effect on nonmusic majors. "You get a chance
to play with all kinds of people," he says. "There were
amazing cello players, for example, whom you probably wouldn't have
Stumpf concurs. "At any college, you're going
to find people who can turn you on to new kinds of music. But to
find people who can play it and play it well--that's rare. It ups
are still at the beginning
of their journey, but they're not impatient. For them, the starting
line is a pretty comfortable place; the built-in fan base doesn't
"There's so much support for bands that are just
starting out," says Sheila Donovan '01, the Tallboys' vivacious
lead singer and occasional guitarist.
"Everybody gets a little push at the beginning."
That push began last summer when they opened for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
and it continues to this day.
The Tallboys are one of the few New York bands that
are 100 percent Oberlin. Aviva Wishnow and Vanessa Roworth, both
'00, began playing together as freshmen and by their junior year
had been joined by newcomer Donovan. The three friends reunited
in New York after Donovan graduated. Eager to resume playing, they
found a willing bassist in Ashley Dinan '98, whose collegiate musical
resume includes a one-shot deal involving the French Kicks' Stinchcomb
Unlike their more experienced peers, the Tallboys still exist mostly
within the social scene of Oberlin graduates. The front rows at
their shows are heavily populated with former classmates.
"It's impossible to avoid," Dinan says of
the College connection. "It seems like everyone who graduated
from Oberlin in the past five years has moved here and started a
band. It's so weird to see my friends in Rolling Stone and
Donovan has her theories about this phenomenon. "Oberlin
people are restless. They move here and get jobs that aren't good
outlets for creative expression."
"Even if you do find that perfect job, you are
probably not going to find it straight out of college," Wishnow
"You need to have a creative outlet in the meantime,"
concludes Donovan, who works in retail. "Otherwise your soul
The Seconds are another all-Oberlin band
that had its start as a campus ensemble. The drummer, as for so
many bands of that era, was Chase. The guitarist was Lehrhoff. The
bassist--well, at the beginning, the bassist was Rob Lehmann '99.
Then there was Todd Bailey '00, but that was sporadic. Meanwhile,
Jeannie Kwon '00 was waiting for an opening.
"There was a final show at Ministry House right
before we graduated," Kwon says. "Brian was sitting on
the sidewalk outside, and I asked him what he was doing after graduation.
He said, 'I'm going to be in Brooklyn, playing rock.' I said, 'Me
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of Fury and the Sound