Spring 2003 Contents OAM Home Oberlin Online Home
Feature Stories
Money Matters
Family Tree, Oberlin roots
Operation Internship
[cover story] Fury and the Sound
David Rees Gets His (Bleep) On
Around Tappan Square
Alumni Profiles
The Last Word
One More Thing
Inside Oberlin
Staff Box

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 met

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 the ante."

The Tallboys 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 hurt either.

"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 and Stumpf.

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 on MTV."

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 interjects.

"You need to have a creative outlet in the meantime," concludes Donovan, who works in retail. "Otherwise your soul decays."

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 too.'"


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