Band of brothers

Byrdman, a student-run folk-punk band, created by sophomore Jack David and his younger brother Nick, has attracted a growing audience throughout the community.


Photo courtesy of Julia Brunner

Hallie O'Rourke, Assistant Academics Editor

“I was in my bedroom [when I came up with the idea of creating a band],” sophomore Jack David said. “I was just listening to music and just got inspired and starting writing music, just trying to imitate the sound.”

David is one of the founders of the folk-punk band, Byrdman, as well as the lead singer and head guitarist.

David has always loved music and takes interest in many different genres. He enjoys both listening to and creating a variety of music. He is a self-taught guitarist whose passion came from merely listening to music that he deeply enjoyed. Shortly after teaching himself guitar, David started to tinker around with writing music, starting with guitar parts and eventually adding lyrics.

“I’ll listen to [some bands] and maybe the structure of the song [will jump out at me],” David said. “I could be listening to metal, and [I’ll hear the structure of the song] and then make something else out of it.”

This hobby quickly turned into something more, as David started pondering the possibilities of adding more instruments to his originally-solo process.

“At first, it was just me. I was experimenting with a bunch of different instruments and seeing what I could create,” David said. “I also wanted to be able to perform live since I was really enjoying what I was doing. I got my brother [Nick] to play drums and I got [sophomore] Connor [Cragg] to play bass. Slowly, over time, [it] became a band, [though] at first, it was just songwriting.”

David created Byrdman from a handful of people who are very close to him.

“Jack and I have been really good friends for a long time now, since [the] third grade. About a year ago, he started learning guitar, writing songs and getting really into it,” Cragg said. “He started releasing things online and he wanted to get a full band together and I wanted to learn an instrument, so he literally just gave me a bass guitar, told me to learn it. I did, and I’m here now.”

The band members create a special aura whenever they are performing together.

“All four band members have great chemistry together, so it sounds really fun,” sophomore Jason Hadley said. “The people there are really fun, it’s an extremely great atmosphere to be around and it’s just an amazing time.”

Not only does the band bring friends together, but it provides an opportunity for people who may have been strangers to bond over music by seeing Byrdman perform at live shows.

“[The shows] are really welcoming and a lot of fun,” sophomore Sofia Wainwright said. “Anyone can come and have a good time, and they’re not judgmental, so [it gives off] a really homey feeling.”

Since this band is completely student-run, most live shows take place in the basement of a generous friend who is willing to host. Although this may seem small, everyone can still enjoy the music and each others’ company.

Byrdman’s first show in February was the smallest by far. It took place outdoors at a local park, and only around 25 people showed up. With near-freezing temperatures, everyone donned hats and down jackets and brought blankets. Nonetheless, the show still made a lasting impact.

“At the time, it was really cool [playing the first show]. I was really scared because I hadn’t really sang in front of people before, especially not original songs. I had played guitar with my friends and played covers with people, but I never played my own stuff and never had people come to see it,” David said. “It was really scary at first, but as time went on, I got more comfortable with it.”

The love for this small band only got larger after this. The band’s Twitter account, @byrdmansucks, announced upcoming shows, and people helped spread the word.

“Byrdman got more and more publicized through Twitter and other social media,” Hadley said. “[It] became more and more well known through that.”

As with any live show, the energy of the audience is really what keeps the band going. At Byrdman shows, it’s not uncommon to have everybody up dancing with each other and singing the lyrics back at the band while they’re playing.

“[I like] the dancing the most in the shows. It’s so crazy to me. First show, no one really knew a lot of the songs, no one really knew what to do or what was appropriate,” David said. “The second show was a little more involved, and the last show was really awesome. From the beginning, people were just singing along and dancing. When you have people screaming words that you’ve written, it’s kind of insane. It’s my favorite thing in the world.”

Their music has an edgier, unique sound that many enjoy.

“It’s a little bit outside the box but it’s still good,” Hadley said. “It has ties from all different sorts of genres of music.”

This band has changed the lives of each of its members. Whether it’s helping them step out of their comfort zone or try something new, Byrdman is making a lasting impact on all involved.

“This [band] has given me new experiences with playing music,” sophomore and guitar player Thomas Allain said. “Right now, most of what I play in school [has been] concert jazz, so this branching out is fun. [It’s] new.”

The band has especially transformed the life of Jack David.

“Even from last year, [the band has] helped me get over fears like stage fright and social anxiety,” David said. “I’ve also made a lot of friends through it. It’s kind of crazy that I’ve created something that people actually care about, which is a really, really cool thing. So yeah, it’s pretty awesome.”

You can expect much more to come from Byrdman, as the love that they receive inspires them to push forward and do more things.

“I’m going to see how far I can take [the band] on my own. We’re really strong with that DIY punk ethos — that is do it yourself, go as far as you can with what you have,” David said. “If that leads anywhere big, then it leads somewhere big. If it doesn’t, then I’m perfectly fine with that because I’m making music to make music and to have fun with other people. Hopefully, the community grows and I meet new people and go places that I wouldn’t have gone before.”

Whatever happens will undoubtedly receive an outpouring of support from the members and the fans alike.

“I have no idea [what’s in store for the future of the band],” Cragg said. “When Jack needs me to do something, I’m going to do it. Whatever he has planned, I have planned.”

This devoted group can bring a smile to almost anyone’s face, and they love doing it. They welcome anyone and everyone to see them perform and enjoy spreading the love of music to all.

“[My favorite thing about the band] is that we keep doing something that means something. I think half of it’s the music and the other half is the sense of community that it creates,” David said. “From the beginning, I was really big on including everyone and letting everyone feel like they have a place and that they’re allowed to go. There should be no social structure to it. I want anyone who wants to go to be able to come and feel comfortable with the ones around them. [I want] to keep creating things that matter to someone and to let everyone have fun with what we can do.”