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Video Transcript – Get a (Student) Life Podcast: Episode 11

Molly Balison, host: All right. Hello and welcome to the Get a (Student) Life podcast. I’m your host, Molly Balison. And today I’m here with Amy Johnson and Randy McCurdy. And I’m excited to talk to you guys about your love for music in light of Treefort, and as members of the Blue Thunder Marching Band.
And, this is the Get a (Student) Life’s first live podcast away from the Albertsons Library Sound studio. So we’re excited to have a live audience today. Woo!

So our question of the day for you two is: what is something on your bucket list that you’ve been dying to do? And second part, why haven’t you done it yet?

Amy Johnson: I can answer this, I think. I’m about to graduate and so I have a lot of things stewing on my bucket list that I’m ready to do now that I won’t be a college student anymore. I think my number one is probably learn how to surf. We’re from Idaho, so we don’t have a lot of opportunities to do that. but my dad was from California and grew up surfing, and it’s just always been something- I snowboard and I skateboard and I’m like.

Molly: You could do it.

Amy: I can, I could probably surf.

Molly: So you’d want to go on the California coast to learn how to surf, or anywhere?

Amy: Spain. Like, Why not? Why not keep it to America? We can go anywhere when I’m graduated.

Molly: That’s awesome. I believe you can do it. I’ve only surfed once in Hawaii, and it was actually a little bit easier than I thought it was going to be. Well, I lied because I couldn’t even go out onto the waves. I fumbled onto the sand many times before getting there. But you could probably do it. What about you, Randy?

Randy McCurdy: Okay. Artificial answer, like the stereotypical answer: I’ve never skied or snowboarded, and I’m from here. But let me be honest. I don’t like the snow that much. I don’t like the cold. The real answer is acting. I want to get into acting. I wanted to be an actor when I was a little kid so bad. The reason why, I don’t know, because I’m busy. It’s kind of cringey, I think. Maybe. But if I could be in a Skittles commercial, that would be perfect. So if you ever hear this Skittles, put me on. Randy McCurdy.

Molly: Okay. Life goal to be on the Skittles commercial. Well, you have a background in performing, so I feel like that would be…

Randy: I mean, it’d just be fun. It’s goofy, you know, you get to pretend to be someone else. I mean, I get paid for it. I’m just kidding.

Molly: Might as well. So with your performing background, tell us a little bit about performing with your band. And you performed last night at Treefort. So tell me about that experience.

Randy: Yeah, that was fun. That was probably my favorite set I’ve ever been a part of, probably, last night. It was a very special show. I’ve gotten to do lots of, like, different performing things from talent shows to now, like Treefort and some stuff like that. Last night was interesting in particular because our lead singer got sick, the last couple days, lost his voice.
He could speak, but he was super hoarse the whole time, and he wouldn’t sing. And it was the night before. We’re practicing, and he just can’t sing. And he says, I think we’re gonna have to cancel.
Dude, we’re not canceling. It’s 6:50 p.m. at Boise Brewing. Like, that’s going to be crazy. It’s awesome. You know? Anyways, so we come to a compromise. If I learn the lyrics in time, then I’ll sing and drum. I didn’t learn all the lyrics. I messed up a few times, and I had my phone on a little stand, and I scrolled through the lyrics as I played it. But we did it and it was super awesome and it was super cool.
And my favorite weather is like, post-rain cloudy, which is exactly what it was at that time last night. It was just perfect.

Molly: How is that drumming and singing the same time? Had you done that before?

Randy: I have done that before. Actually a fun fact. I wasn’t supposed to, though. I was on a little mini tour. It wasn’t a real tour. It’s like, get in the car and call a venue and say, “we’re coming to play Saturday night, is that okay?” You know, and we go to Portland. And then the drummer dude at the time was totally not cool and, like, wanted me to pay him for the time.

We didn’t really discuss that until we got there and then said he wouldn’t play the set unless I did. And I’m like, I don’t have money. So then he was like, okay. And I was like, okay, well, you’re good. I’ll just drum and sing it. And I play guitar and sing in that band, and he was a drummer. So then I did it and it was really bad. But that was a few years ago, I think. I don’t know, I guess it’s different now, but.

Molly: Got you. So it went smoothly otherwise? The change of plans?

Randy: Yeah, yeah. Oh, you were talking about a couple years ago?

Molly: Oh, I meant last night.

Randy: Last night. Yes. That one was so smooth. It was so smooth. And the rest of the band were totally into it. And everybody was. It was just the most together we all felt, like we had to come together. It’s cheesy, but you know, it’s real. There were moments I was looking at Trey and Jeremy and Nate and Connor and I was just like, dude, we’re doing it still. We could have not. That’s cool.

Molly: Improvise, adapt, overcome.

Randy: Yes. Exactly.

Molly: And you performed last year too, right?

Randy: Yeah. Last year we got to play the main stage. But it was at like two in the afternoon, which is great, so fun. Not very many people, but it was fun. It was a great, great experience. And yeah, that was a great experience too. That was last year. I was actually sick that day, but it was still great.

Molly: So it goes around on performance days.

Randy: Well, yeah, it does. And March, March is just the worst, I think, for me at least.

Molly: Remind us what your, your band name is because you’re, you’re in multiple, yeah?

Randy: So the band, last night and main stage last year and I’m actually moving to New Jersey to pursue being with here in a few months, it’s called Raccoon Tour. Racccoon Tour. Two names, not The Rackenteers with Jack white. And it’s not a ripoff either. We just didn’t know. So that’s Raccoon Tours.
Leaway is my kind of project, very near and dear to my heart. Much smaller, much, much more low key of a project. and that is leawayofficial on Instagram. Leaway official.

Molly: Okay, where can people listen to you?

Randy: Yes. Leaway, we released an EP, January 19th, this year. And, I’m super proud of it. We also had a single released October 13th of last year, so we have six songs out in total.

Molly: Have you listened to his music?

Amy: Yes. It’s so good. It’s so interesting listening to Spotify and it’s like, “I know that guy so well.” But it’s like a professional recording that they’ve released and it’s so cool. Added it to my playlist. Stream Leaway!

Molly: Awesome. Local Celebrity. So for you, Amy, how has music impacted your life? And I’d love to hear from you too, Randy.

Amy: Yeah, so I kind of just happened upon getting into music, I started in middle school, like a lot of people do. My sister is two grades above me, and so I always just kind of copied what she did because I’m not original at all. And she started playing clarinet and then she joined the marching band in high school. So I was like, I’m going to go in the marching band, that’s so cool.

And I played flute at first, and then I switched to trombone because the trombone is just the better instrument. And then she became a drum major, which is, if you don’t know what-

Randy: She did? In high school?

Amy: Yeah, she was my drum major. A drum major actually has nothing to do with drums. It’s a very misleading title, but we are the conductors who stand at the front of the field during our halftime performances and conduct the band. And so my sister did that for her senior year in high school. And then I did it my junior and senior year. Which you’re also,
you’re not only the conductor, you’re the main leadership person of the whole band because you have your section leaders that are in charge of each individual section. But the drum majors are really the student that kind of pulls everything together, and you’re kind of the bridge between the students and the staff and the director and stuff like that.

So it’s a big responsibility, especially in high school, because you’re kind of running the whole thing. And then in college, I continued on because my sister did Blue Thunder, and then I was like, well, I’m going to do Blue Thunder too. And my freshman year was 2020, so it’s Covid and Blue Thunder looked a lot different back then. We didn’t have a whole field performance. We just played in the stands at a couple football games that we didn’t think we were going to get to do, and then they miraculously let us do it. Then I got the courage to audition to be a drum major my sophomore year, and I was a drum major a sophomore through senior year.
So it’s my third and final year with the Blue Thunder marching.

Molly: How sweet. What was the audition process like to become a drum major?

Amy : Yes. Okay. High school, it was pretty easy. They just kind of picked you. And it’s different for different high schools. But the Boise State audition process is a handful, and I still have nightmares about it.

Molly: Oh, no.

Amy: It’s actually coming up again. So I have all of the people who are auditioning this year coming to me for advice and stuff, and I’m just like reliving that stressful time.

Randy: It’s very stressful.

Amy: Basically, it’s a smaller group. It’s not the full marching band. It’s about 90 people. But you get up on a ladder in front of all of them and you have to conduct a piece that we did last year.
So it’s usually like a movement for a show. You have to do a sight reading. So they put a piece of music in front of you that you’ve never seen before, and you have to conduct them. You do these tempo quizzes, so they’ll play a metronome and say, what tempo is this? You have to get within six beats per minute, and then they’ll do the reverse where they’ll say, okay, conduct at 160 [beats per minute]. And then you have to, they’ll like tap it to see if you’re within six. Oh, that part’s so stressful in person and it’s so hard to prepare because all you can do is just like-

Randy: There’s nothing you can really do.

Molly: I was going to ask if there’s any preparation or you just go.

Randy: The trick–and it’s just a trick and it’s just about how good you get at it–the trick of putting a song to a BPM. So, 120 for you. What is that? You told me that years ago. Can you believe that? Before I was a drum major, I DMed [Amy], I was one of those kids. I was like, “oh my God, I’m getting so scared, what do I do?” And she says, 120 is, it’s Michael Jackson. What is it?
‘Beat It’. No, it’s not ‘Beat It’.

Amy: It might be ‘Thriller’.

Randy: It’s ‘Thriller’.

Amy: Mine has changed. Every year I change songs.

Randy: No, it was ‘Thriller’. And it was 120 and, like, put a song to, you know, to to a BPM. And every ten is what I did. I felt like 120 is always solid, but it gets harder actually the slower you go.

Amy: And the faster.

Randy: The extremes, yeah.

Amy: Extremes get very like- they’re super close together in that the slow is just like, well, this is just so slow. It could be literally anything. That one’s super hard. And you can just see like, practicing is one thing. But in the audition you can just see people on their phone, tapping it out and they know what the number is. And if there’s a couple times I got it right on the dot, like, exact number, and everyone just goes, ‘oh my gosh!”, there’s like a reaction from your audition.

So it’s not just judges. There’s a whole panel of educators and faculty and then the whole entire band too. And sometimes they have very vocal reactions to things. So it’s just-

Molly: It’s probably a little distracting.

Randy: And the other thing is, I’m pretty sure that they’re doing a Google Form doc or answering these questions to write comments, to write comments about this individual. They give feedback and you can see them, there’s moments where I made a mistake and I would see someone go and grab their phone and start typing something, you know, things like that. And the other thing is to consider is that this ensemble, if you think about it, too hard, this ensemble is seeing everybody, their eyes have just seen the person before you and the person before them. And they’re going to see the person after you. You don’t. So you have no idea how to gauge how good you’re doing. But you have this like non-verbal communication with a couple people in the ensemble. And I remember last year there was a couple times where it’s like– okay, the year before I didn’t get it. I auditioned two years ago, didn’t get it. And I remember feeling like, okay, I know I didn’t get it before I even got out, because of the looks on a couple of people. I guess I could tell this was a weaker one, or last year I could tell it was a stronger one. I could just feel it. Because a couple of my friends were like, “it was good.”

Amy: Not just auditioning, but like being in front of an ensemble. There’s such a nonverbal vibe that you can just feel the energy.

Randy: You can feel what the mood, overall mood is.

Amy: It’s so different. And like, I’m not a performer like he is. So this is kind of the only time I get to experience that. But that connection with you and the people you’re conducting is so… it’s just so special. And you kind of have to like, hone it to be able to– like your facial expressions matter, your body language matters. They will feed off of literally everything that you produce. And so it makes you very aware of yourself and very aware of the people around you. And so I think when auditioning that’s your first taste. And that you get to experience that.

Molly: That’s really cool. And you said you’re sitting up on a ladder in front of everybody?

Amy: Yep.

Randy: Oh man. And you don’t realize– the ladder is sturdy, the ladder is not going to fall. But it doesn’t feel like it at first

Molly: But if you’re feeling shaky…

Randy: You don’t feel like that.

Amy: After every year I’ve had someone tell me “your knees were shaking so much and I’m like, Don’t look at that. Like, don’t look at my knees. I know this.

Randy: Amy is a pro drum major, by the way. We haven’t given that enough credit. So she is a Pacific Crest Drum Corps is a big deal okay. Drum corps is a big deal. It’s like this summer, national– you can explain it better than I could, but I want to give you the kudos here. She was a drum major for one of those big, big– they’re playing like Indianapolis Colts Arena, like Lucas Oil Stadium and do crazy stuff. And they’re so talented. The shows are so good and theatrical. Anyway, she’s been doing that for a couple years now. I say that, though, to add to the fact that, she’s such a pro at it. Like, maybe your legs shake, but her face and her arms and hands and body language just always so on. It’s just so good. I remember somebody gave a comment about you in an audition that was like–what was it? She’s just a cozy pair of socks or something. You know, you try on these other people, but she’s just the right pair, you know what I mean? She’s the right one.

Amy: That feedback that people type, last year for the first time they let us see it, which was kind of a blessing and a curse. One of the questions is, what did Amy do well, and what did Amy not do well? And so you get all these that would–

Molly: That would be helpful.

Amy: –that would be helpful to your ego and stuff. But then you see all these things that, suddenly everyone’s an expert and they’re like “Oh, well, her three’s were not in time.”
But it’s fine. Yeah. No it’s good, it’s good constructive feedback. But sometimes you just kind of like, take it with a grain of salt.

Molly: Yeah, totally.

Amy: But yeah, the summer thing. I always compare it to like, club marching band, like club sports.

Molly: It’s the Drum Corps?

Amy: Yeah. Drum Corps International.

Randy: DCI.

Amy: DCI. Yeah. It’s independent, it’s not like with a school or anything. So they’re independent organizations and there’s a lot across the country, mainly in California.

Randy: And you tour the whole country.

Molly: Wow.

Amy: You do basically a month of spring training, and mine was based out of SoCal, so I moved there for a month. And you sleep on gym floors and you have an air mattress, you have a suitcase, and you live in high schools and middle schools. And once tour starts, you get on busses and then you live on the busses.

And when you get to sleep on the floor, it’s a blessing because you’re not sleeping on a bus. And it’s like a show every other day, and there’s thousands of people who turn up to their shows and–

Randy: Stadiums and stuff.

Amy: Yeah. Huge stadiums. We did the Rose Bowl.

Molly: Oh, wow.

Amy: Yeah. The Colt arena that’s the iconic one, that’s where finals are. And so I did two summers with Pacific Crest, as a drum major. And it was very rewarding. A lot of people will say it’s the best thing and the worst thing that you will ever do.

Molly: Just worst as far as?

Amy: Worst as far as just the conditions, like it’s hot, especially when you get to Texas. And our AC broke on our bus.

Randy: And it’s July.

Amy: It’s July, the water is hot and brown, and there’s roaches in the shower, like it’s glamorous. It’s very glamorous living. And then you have to, you live in these crazy conditions, and then you get all glammed up for the show. And it’s like, this is two different people that I’m pretending to be.
Molly: No one would know I slept on a gym floor the night before.

Amy: No. Yeah. But it was super fun. This past summer, Pacific Crest has historically scored like 16, 19, like pretty bottom range of the world class and I think we got 14 this year, so we bumped up quite a bit. Our show is very, very good and special. And I had a very good summer and I learned a lot about being a drum major in drum corps that I could translate back to Boise State.

Molly: Yeah. What are some of those things that have translated to Blue Thunder?

Amy: I got coaching on conducting, which is a big one. My conducting style completely changed from when I first started sophomore year at Blue Thunder, because I had only had a little bit of training from high school. And then I did drum corps for two summers. They’re just different realms, they’re different styles, communication styles.

Molly: So interesting.

Amy: Drum corps is very strict and everything needs to be perfect and you’re getting judged. That’s a big difference. You’re getting scored and judged by people. And at Blue Thunder you’re performing for a football crowd. We still hold ourself to a very high standard, like we are getting judged, but it’s just different. And I think with Blue Thunder, it made me realize after doing drum corps, it made me realize I could just have so much more fun with it. Like, we dance when we conduct.

Randy: We did some funny stuff. Really fun stuff. We did the hair flip.
Amy: Yes, we added a hair flip into our routine.

Randy: Next year’s drum majors, if you’re watching this, you need to add the hair flip.

Amy: Yes.

Randy: Please ask us about it, we’ll tell you.

Amy: And I just got the skills to be talented at what I do, but then I could loosen up and have fun with it. Like, we had Suava Mente for our show this year.

Molly: What is that?

Amy: It’s like a Latin piece, and we did a little salsa dance for fun because we don’t get to do the fun stuff on the field like the band does. So we do what we can. We did the Party Rock Anthem this year. And so the band does a dance. There’s a whole choreographed dance with it. And so Randy and I were on the side podiums, which have a little bit more space to move around.

Randy: There are three podiums. One on the 50 and then the two sides.

Amy: The ones on the sides have a good amount of area. Not a lot to move around, but we decided we were also going to do the dance because no one was watching us. We didn’t need to conduct there. And so we kind of took that liberty and we learned the dance. We turned around to face the audience, which was super awkward when there were like football equipment managers, right?

Randy: Referees. Yeah. Pumping up a football.

Amy: Yeah. But we did the dance. We threw the woah to each other and then yeah, we just had fun with it.

Molly: That sounds like definitely a highlight of your game day experiences. What is a typical game day experience?

Randy: It’s just such a highlight every game. It’s pretty phenomenal.

Amy: We get there…how many hours do we get there before?

Randy: Well there was a 10 a.m. game. So call time was 5:30, I think.

Amy: We get there very early.

Amy: I think it’s about four hours before kickoff is when we’re supposed to arrive. And we have a whole rehearsal before game days because we rehearse three days a week–

Randy: We would call it a run through, to be fair, but it kind of turns into a rehearsal sometimes. Don’t tell Joe.

Amy: You know, we rehearse a lot, and it’s a class that we go to. So we go three days a week and we work on our show and we make it presentable and just clean, so that it looks good for the audience. And so there’s already a three day a week commitment and then there’s usually a football game on Saturdays.
And so it ends up being like three days a week plus a full Saturday because you get there so early, you do the whole game and then you stay pretty late after the game. It is one of the most exhausting things, especially football. There’s a lot of things drum majors do, but football is like the most effort we put into it.

Randy: Well I feel like most effort is before the game, in my opinion, it’s all a lot of the pregame stuff like the rehearsal run through and then we do tailgate parade, the pep band also has another little thing. You just have to divert your attention into all these different places really quickly in these 20 minute spans.
And then once the game starts, at that point, it was just like, okay, we’re done. Like we’re actually done. When the game started, like after pregame was over, I was like, okay, we can relax now. We still have halftime. But that’s like fun.

Amy: I’m actually going to contradict that because once the game starts has been the most stressful part for me. Everything else– this is my third year doing it, it kind of became second nature like it was all routine. I didn’t really need to think about what I was doing next because I’ve done it for so long.
But, and obviously I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but my knowledge of football was not very good before I started band. And we have to know what’s happening on the field so we can respond to it because we have a certain thing we play on first downs, we have a certain thing we play on second downs, we have different things we play on offense versus defense, and if there’s a flag we can’t play, if there’s a touchdown, we play the fight song. There’s a lot to keep track of.

Amy: You have to be fully locked in because the band, they’re paying attention as much as they want to, but we have to be fully aware of what’s going on in the game so that we can be that communication between the game and the band.

Randy: There’s something I learned also with being a drum major that I think has improved my overall communication hopefully, because I think I still have a lot of ground to cover, to be honest. But you have to be so clear at all times, not just in your conducting and what you look like, but just in what’s happening because they will trust you.
They will go with you if you lead them in the wrong direction or you forgot something, or if you weren’t very clear and like you think you said, “oh, on second down, we’re playing this” or something. If you’re not clear, they didn’t catch it. They won’t. You know what I mean? So ultra clarity in your communication that’s something that I definitely learned like can’t be subtle most of the time. To a large group of like 200, I guess it was 180 this year, individuals, you have to make sure that all of them got the information. And usually there’s a lot of information to go over, you know.

Amy: And it’s so high stakes too. There are thousands and thousands of people in that stadium.

Randy: This year was amazing, by the way. Like, turn out for games.

Amy: If we make a mistake, the three, there’s three of us. But if one of the three of us makes a mistake, the entire stadium, maybe they’re not paying that close attention, but they know, they can hear it.

Molly: Because that many people, 180 people playing the wrong thing.

Amy: Yeah

Randy: And I have a whole nother story about that.

Molly: I’d love to hear that.

Amy: But it’s so nerve wracking. And you just have to not make mistakes, which is hard. We were taught like, making mistakes is fine, but when you’re in front of that many people learning how to just not make mistakes is kind of key.

Molly: That’s a lot of pressure.

Amy: It’s a lot of pressure.

Molly: For all those eyes to be on you, and you’re like, “I better know what I’m doing.”

Randy: You don’t learn how to deal with it until you’re doing it. Like there’s no preparation you can do over the summer or the spring before. I mean, I guess unless you went to a camp and even then it’s not the same. There’s no way to prepare you to stand in front of a bunch of other pretty high level musicians and look at them and be confidently saying, “Listen to what I’m saying.”
And also the other thing I learned in band camp very quickly on was that, like you said, you just don’t make mistakes, and that’s true. And then I would make a mistake and make a second and a third. But the thing is, you have to be on at all times. You have to be knowing what’s happening now, what’s going to be happening soon, what’s happening everywhere, all the time.
It’s true. And like that was a huge contrast.
I’m not saying I just goofed off when I was in the clarinet section. Not saying that. But my brain was turned off a lot of the time. It was like oh, the drum majors got it. And then when you’re that, you don’t think about that. You’re like, they got it, they got it. I don’t know what’s happening. Someone goes, what are we doing? I don’t know.

Amy: You just look–because we hold up a little sign that says what we’re playing next, so as long as you cna be just watching the game, chatting with your friends, you see a sign, you see hands, you’re like, oh, we’re playing now.

Randy: As a drum major, you create that. Yeah. It’s almost like– you know what I mean? Like you create that. You’re supposed to be that.

Amy: That signal to–

Randy: You figure out how to do it and you figure out how to like, fire on all cylinders at all times, kind of.

Amy: And I’m not saying I never made mistakes when I was first starting. Oh my goodness, I messed up right and left. But the trick is when you mess up once, you just make sure you never messed that up again.

Amy: You get one shot.

Randy: You, you can mess up again on another thing.

Amy: Yeah. But your mistakes are so visible and what we were talking about with like, the trust of the ensemble, that connection, when you mess up, that part of that trust breaks and you have to keep working to keep that trust intact and build it up. Every time you make a mistake, they will lose trust in you because they’re like, I don’t think she knows what she’s doing, I don’t know if she knows where we’re at. I don’t know if I can trust her to, like, let me play the right thing.

Randy: So it’s huge.

Amy: You can mess up once. Just don’t mess that thing up again, and you’ll be fine. And then eventually it’ll come naturally.

Molly: Yeah, that’s a huge role to have all those things combined with the trust element too, and all that pressure. And there’s already so much stimulation going on in football games, for example, and to be, like, locked into your people and what’s happening behind you, because can you see it? Do you have to like look at the board?

Randy: We have the screen.

Amy: Yeah, we’re in the north end zone. So we have the now smaller screen that’s pretty close to us. So I think I spend more time watching the board than I do the actual game.

Molly: Because you can just trust your hands.

Amy: A lot of the times when the football plays all the way on the other end zone, we can’t see anything.

Randy: You can’t see depth. We’re on the end zone, so you can’t totally like the way you’d see it. You know, obviously you can’t see how far five yards is that way as much.

Amy: Although if they’re about to score in the north end zone, that’s very helpful because they’re literally like five feet from you. So you can kind of see what’s going on. But other than that we watch the board. We have to watch the refs for if it’s a first down, like sometimes if it’s really close, we don’t know if it’s the first down or not.

Randy: Yes, exactly.

Amy: We’ve definitely over the years, I’ve noticed, built–it used to be kind of like whoever was on the ladder, that was their job. They just needed to figure it out.

Molly: Like before the ref makes a call?

Amy : No, just like what you’re playing and just knowing what was going on.

Randy: Just to know, like what to do now, you know what I mean?

Amy: Yeah. It used to be kind of an individual job.

Randy: Like whoever’s on the ladder–

Amy: Whoever was on the ladder was doing it. Someone was doing the holding up the sign, and then the third person can kind of get a break for that quarter.

Randy: No way this year. No. It was great though. It was like amazing.

Amy: We work together the entire time and everyone was constantly like in it together. Communication. My sophomore year that was not the case. We just kind of–

Randy: And then when the mistake does happen, like maybe I start to count off because I thought I heard it was first down, It’s not first it’s actually fourth. We tap, we just like–

Amy: Smack his leg to get him.

Molly: It’s good communication between you guys.

Randy: Oh that was the best because we all were like– it’s just so cool to like not have to– I love making eye contact but to not even have to. You just know what’s happening. It was really cool.

Amy: And also conducting. So we face the band but sometimes we usually cut when the center goes down over the ball, that’s when we stop playing. And so like having to completely face the other way, like trying to watch what’s going on and trying to conduct the piece. Well, I mean, sometimes they’re like stupid little, not stupid, but little pieces that are just fun pep songs that don’t take a lot of effort.
But sometimes when it’s our more intense pieces and you just kind of want to be enjoying what you’re doing, you just have to be like whipping your head back and forth, trying to figure out what’s going on. And so, like having the other people watching what’s going on and just like communicating that way has been so well.
And I really hope the future drum majors can continue that open communication like that.

Randy: Future drum majors, future drum majors do not look at the video board at yourself and the band. I know, I know, you’re right there. It’s so tempting.

Molly: To see yourself up there

Randy: But that screen, that screen is two seconds behind. It’s two seconds behind you. Look at that thing and you’re going to get lost. It’s true. Or like, not even two seconds. It’s actually like, really close behind. Which is worse than two seconds behind because it’s like I see my down beat. There it is. You know what I mean? So anyways, I did it a couple times. I looked, I looked.

Molly: Well that’s good advice.

Amy: But it’s also like you’re up on the jumbotron, like how can you not look, “Oh my God, I’m there!”. Yeah. I have to stay–

Randy: Speaking of jumbotron too, I will say this whole thing about watching the jumbotron makes the game easier. It does. U-dub was really difficult because of where we were placed. We went to U-dub, University of Washington, and we couldn’t see anything. But what was even worse was the L.A. Bowl. They have this awesome thing in the middle. It’s like this circular, weird futuronic, like weird thing. I don’t even know. It’s not a word, just this weird thing that’s hard to look at, especially from where we’re at. And you can’t see. It’s just like this. I can’t even explain.

Molly: Is it a moving screen?

Amy: Yeah. So it’s SoFi Stadium has this, like, ring. This floating ring in the top of the stadium. That’s the screen.

Randy: And the screen is inside though. It’s inside the ring. It’s weird. You have to, like, get some way to see inside this ring. Like the outside of the ring. I don’t know, it was really weird.

Molly: So you have to adjust each stadium you go to.

Amy: Yeah. I mean, when we’re home on the blue, like we got this, you’re in your element. When we do a one travel football game every year. So we went to Oregon. We went to–

Randy: Oregon State last year.

Amy: Yeah. My sophomore year we went to Utah, Utah State. And then this year we went to Washington.

Randy: Washington and the L.A Bowl.

Amy: Yeah, we got very lucky to go to a bowl game this year. But yeah, adjusting to new stadiums is so tough. Just because you’re always–they always try to put you really far back because they don’t want you being loud and disrupting the game, which is what we want to do.

Molly: Right? You want to be loud.

Amy: The reason they bring us is because, like, we can be loud. We’re on defense, like hype up the crowd. So a lot of times they’ll shove us way in the back. And so it’s like I remember my sophomore year, we were up in the nosebleeds and we couldn’t find a way to get a ladder in Utah State. To stay stable on the thing. And so we were just holding on to this shaky ladder that I was standing up to all the way up in the top. And I was getting, like, motion sick from being up on the last steep. That was like, that’s my drum major horror story.
So I only had to do one quarter, thank God. But it was so scary. But yeah, just going to new stadiums is definitely tricky.

Molly: Yeah. And how cool that you guys get to be so involved in Boise State sports, but in a different way. And follow your music passions too.

Randy: Isn’t that weird?

Molly: Yeah, that’s pretty cool. It’s perfect. And that this is just a class that blows my mind that it takes so much, so much work and dedication, like outside of just your credits, but it’s something that you like.

Amy: We’re on scholarship, so we get scholarships. We bring in a lot of out-of-state people because out-of-state gets out-of-state waivers. So I think they pay in-state tuition. We’re both in-state. So, yeah. But the scholarships are very nice. And, you know, there’s just so many perks that come with it. We get so much like, swag, like cool clothes that we get from Blue Thunder and the experiences, the friendship. There’s so many things that come with it. So like, yes, it’s a class, but also it’s so much more than that. Yeah. And it is a big commitment. So it kind of takes over your life.

Molly: With that, what advice would you have for students as far as this, I guess, music, life, school, balance and with your bands and your other schooling, what advice would you give to how you juggle all that but still get to do what you love?

Amy: It’s tough, but I think especially if you’re an incoming freshman and you’re brand new to college, immediately getting surrounded by all of these peers who have the same passions as you, they have the same interests as you. It gives you just a whole network without even having to try. You have a whole support system that you are granted and we have probably every different major in the band.
Like, yes, we have a lot of music majors, but I’d say we have a majority of non-music majors.

Randy: Majority.

Amy: And so you can immediately find people who are in your major that can help you, and especially if you’re like a freshman and there’s a senior in your section that is also engineering, they can give you all the advice and all the connections that you need. And so it’s yes, it’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of effort to balance that and school, but I think the support you get from the people around you just makes all the difference and pays off.

Molly: Having a community of people that are going to be in your corner matters so much.

Randy: Yeah, it’s so special. It’s so special. If you are even considering like, even if you’re already in college and you play an instrument and you know you could do it, just do it. It’s so fun. It really is so fun. It is so worth it and so rewarding. The community, like you said, it’s such a community building thing.

Amy: It’ll shape your entire college experience.

Randy: And it matters to a lot of people in Boise. There are a lot of people that very much value what the Blue Thunder gets to do. And it’s, I know this little kid who is going to probably be in the band. Well, I don’t know that. You never know. But he dresses up, he goes to football games wearing Blue Thunder like decked out Blue Thunder with a hat like the shako and everything.
Like it’s a really special thing.

Amy: It wouldn’t be game day without Blue Thunder.

Randy: When you figure that out when you’re in the Blue Thunder like, man, I’m a part of something that’s way cool.

Molly: And you guys bring the energy like the Blue Thunder band is what I feel like makes the game day is so fun because just thinking about what games would look like without the music. I mean people are still there for sports, but it would just be so different.

Amy: I think we’re probably a little biased.

Randy: Well, I, I’m saying from a non biased place–trying to– I’m just kidding. But like I actually came into Blue Thunder kind of not sold. I was like, we’ll see. This is fun band camp. But then I was so grateful that we went through band camp. You get to go to school and experience kind of being in school in the summer in a much different, more welcoming setting and environment, and then you get to start college. That was huge for me freshman year.

Amy: You get to move in early, you get to register early. There are so many perks that come with being in band, especially for out-of-state people moving to Boise for the first time. You get to come early, you move into your dorm, and then they feed you every morning the special breakfast for just the people in the dorms and yeah being a freshman in Blue Thunder is, is you get to be on campus, what, two weeks before school even starts, learn the area, learn what’s going on there and learn where everything is.

Randy: And then friends before the school year even starts.

Molly: Yeah. That’s awesome. I’m glad you guys get to be so involved in that aspect of Boise State. And thanks for sharing your experiences with Blue Thunder, because I feel like it’s a huge aspect of Boise State life that doesn’t really get zoomed in on very much. So it’s cool to hear the inside scoop on it. So thanks for the work that you guys do because I have learned that that’s a lot of pressure, and so I’ll have a different outlook the next time I go to a game.

Randy:But it’s really fun.

Molly: Yeah. Absolutely. Well thanks so much for your time today and for sharing your experiences with Treefort and glad that you got to be here to reflect on your performance, and I’m glad it went smoothly for you.

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