First Fridays ditches DJ for Seal Team 6 show

They started as a group of friends from diverse musical backgrounds, all eager to jam. Now the members of Seal Team 6, who will grace this weekend’s First Fridays with their musical stylings in Goodrich, have serious intentions of becoming a band well-known on campus. And of course, they’ve become even better friends.

I sat down to dinner with band members Sam Hargrove ’12, Eugene Murphy ’13, Su-Gi Min ’13, Kevin Lawkins ’13 and Matt Schuck ’12, and I caught up with David Monnich ’12 at a group rehearsal. The six-man band had plenty to share. “This band really originates back to last Winter Study,” said Schuck, guitarist and lead singer for the band. The band, whose full name, Schuck explained, is Seal Team 6: The Band That Killed Osama bin Ladin, has its second major all-campus gig booked for First Fridays. And even though its most recent member, Hargrove, joined just a few weeks ago, Seal Team 6 is ready to jam; judging by recent rehearsals, where the band laid down a variety of classics and modern songs alike, they’re sure to be a hit for the First Fridays crowd.

Although Schuck and Lawkins are the group’s only original members, the current group knows each other through the monthly Coffeehouse performance series and various music classes (several of the group members are music majors). “The moment that we really got more serious was Last Chance” in the spring, Schuck said. Last spring, when several of the original band members graduated or finalized plans to be abroad this year, the search was on to bolster their numbers. “We started basically looking for guys, especially a drummer and a keyboardist,” Schuck said. “Eugene was the first of the victims,” Schuck said of the drummer. “He came in and just rocked it.”

The lead singer also recalls his first impression of Hargrove, the most recent addendum to the Seal Team 6: “We thought we were going to be a five-person band, and then Sam shows up to one of our Coffeehouse performances and mentions that he plays percussion. He just fit like glue,” Schuck said. “So we immediately put a ring on it.”

“More drums are always better,” fellow drummer Murphy said. “Always.”

I asked Hargrove about his own first impression of the band, and he said he was impressed at how “knowledgeable” the team was. “I didn’t play much music at Williams,” Hargrove said, “but they were playing songs I knew and I just liked the vibe. It’s great to play with high-quality musicians.”

Schuck explained that it was when the group became a six-man band that they decided on their current name.We were going to be called the Moondogs,” Murphy said, “but then when Sam joined we realized we had six members.”

Together, they are an amalgam of diverse musical backgrounds. Schuck is in the choral program and is the student conductor of the Williams Chamber Choir; Min, the band’s keyboardist, is a member of the a cappella group The Springstreeters and has a stylistic background in blues and gospel; Hargrove has a background in jazz and some blues; Murphy, the group’s drummer and Lawkins, the group’s bass player and arranger, have played in small jazz ensembles together on campus and Monnich, guitarist and a Texas native, has a unique experience in southern rock and as an upright bass player for Berkshire Symphony Orchestra.

“That’s what I most enjoy about it … We bring to the table varied musical styles but we also find ways to make it sync,” Schuck said.

“We’re really good friends and we just love jamming together,” Min said. “And we just want to bring a new atmosphere … Having a student band on campus is something that’s not very common here.”

Lawkins agreed. “Lots of colleges have great rock music scenes, but unfortunately Williams doesn’t really seem to have one at all. Darlingside [all alums of the College] played some great shows while they were here, but nobody’s really filling that role right now.”

The group hopes to rejuvenate that music scene at the College: “We’re hoping to play a really strong set of music … including music that is a different beat than what always goes on at First Fridays,” Schuck said. He added that the group is particularly looking forward to “that awesome dynamic between a band and an audience that you can only really get with live music.”

Seal Team 6 will mostly play covers, including pieces by The Black Eyed Peas and Michael Jackson that are “remixed in a way,” though they will also play several original pieces, Schuck said. “Things that people can look forward to when they come to the show are songs they know, a mix of songs from current music all the way back to the oldies, some rapping, guest singers and a trio of violinists joining us for a few songs,” as a “surprise.”

Monnich said that the appeal of this weekend’s performance is that the group will play “certain songs that everybody knows. That is always good.” He also alluded to more all-campus appearances by Seal Team 6: “I think this First Fridays will show that live music, and especially bands, are a viable option for weekend entertainment.”

emily calkins/ photo editor The six members of Seal Team 6 rehearse for their upcoming live performance in Goodrich at this weekend’s First Fridays.