14 | WINTER 2020in the Jazz bands and extracurricular musicalactivities so that’s kind of how we met—the reasonwe became a band was—Mount Nittany has thisthing every March where students can make groupsto perform at the lobby when students are comingin for the school day, so we decided to do that, andwe decided to become a band after that.Joshua Carlson(JC): We also got theopportunity to play at the beginning of the 7thand 8th grade band concerts as well, so that justhelped to kickstart it.Where did the name come from?If you were walking downtown at Arts Festivallast summer, you might’ve had the chance to hearthe Brass Rats playing at the square by BeaverAvenue. A brass band made up of one 8th graderand five State High students, the young musiciansdrew quite the crowd. Several weeks ago, I hadthe chance to meet them over a Google Meet anddiscuss their origins, rehearsals, performances, andmuch more.How did you guys meet and ultimately getstarted?Adam Hallacher (AH): We were all in MountNittany Middle school, and we all participatedJC: When we were doing Music in our SchoolsMonth at Mount Nittany, we said “oh shoot, weneed a name,” so I came up with “band rats” andthen I think it was Adam or Daniel who said “waitno, we should be the Brass Rats.”So outside of the school performances, where/when else have you guys played?BY ETHAN JONESAH: Yeah, so one of our greatest influencesare the Lucky Chops, which is a brass band basedin New York City, and they go around busking,which is playing outside and leaving out a hator case for people to drop money into, and
15 | WINTER 2020we decided to do that, and it was surprisinglysuccessful the first time so we did it a few moretimes and that’s basically our main source ofincome.JC: The first time we went busking was duringArts Fest, and it was honestly a perfect spot, wewere right across from the Target in that littlesquare, and everyone was walking by. It went great.Elijah Snyder(ES): I had busked there bymyself before and that worked out really wellfor me, and it wasn’t even during Arts Fest so Ithought it would go well, and it was pretty crazy.Arlo Nicholas(AN): When we busk we don’tjust play music but also try to implement somechoreography as well, and because it’s a prettyopen space we have a lot of leeway to do whateverwe want.AH: A plus to that is that it can get tiringdoing the same set over and over again, so thatfreedom to move around can definitely makethings more interesting.How many times have you guys performed intotal?JC: We’ve busked three times, plus we playedat the drama club cook off, the 7th and 8th gradeconcerts, and at the High School, plus MarchMusic in our Schools Months, so that’s eightperformances in total.How much has the pandemic impactedperforming?Luca Snyder(LS): We’ve kind of pausedpractices and performances for now. We ended updoing a few socially distanced rehearsals beforeschool starting, but now that schools started andcases are rising, we decided it would probably besafer and easier if we took a pause on rehearsalsfor now, but we’ll probably try to get back togetherwhen COVID is on a pause.If you guys were doing gigs right now wouldyou be playing covers, or do you have your ownstuff that you’re working on?LS: We have some stuff that some membershave written that we work on occasionally, but themost fun things to do are covers because they’resongs we know, and we can jam to them while weplay them and it’s very fun. So we’ve mainly donecovers.AH: Another thing that comes with playingcovers is that if you hear a cover of a song playedby a brass band it’s not exactly the same as itwould be if you were just listening to the originalrecording, so I think covers definitely work for usmore than they would for a more standard layoutof instrumentation.ES: So far we’ve only really performed coversinone case, we performed a cover of another song,so basically a cover of a cover.JC: Like we said earlier, Lucky Chops is oneof our biggest influences and they perform alot of covers, so sometimes we pick a song thatworked well for them because we have very similarinstrumentation to them.What are some more influences you guys have,individually or as a whole?AH: I think we’re all fans of Vulfpeck, a funkgroup based in Michigan, so we like to bring a lotof that rhythm stuff into our performances.JC: Moon Hooch as well.AH: That’s a trio who invented their owngenre called Cave Music which is basically blastinginto a saxophone as loud as you can.JC: They once taped a traffic cone onto theend of a bass saxophone to make it lower.