Campus Band Profile: Burn The Barn

By Casey Lewis | 4/28/14 4:00am

Over 13X, I would often walk into Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity and be aurally bombarded with the sound of snare drums, guitar solos and random lyrics. At the time, I did not know too much about the four AXA ’15s who would soon come to call themselves “Burn the Barn” (a name attributed to the fraternity’s lore). However, they seemed like an established enough band given that I happened to overhear their melodious jam sessions almost any time I was in or around the green house near the end of Webster Ave.

Evidently, the guys were just casually playing together. Before sophomore summer, John Cofer ’15, who sings, plays guitar and piano, blitzed out to the AXA ’15s to gauge interest for group jam sessions. Drummer Sam Farid ’15, bass guitarist Phil Larie ’15 and lead vocalist Tom Pears ’15 responded positively. Cofer explained that while none of them had performed in a band setting on campus, they had experience playing and instruments available on campus and planned to live in the same house for 10 weeks.

“The combination of an accessible practice space and the collective instrumental resources paved the way for successful musical collaboration,” Pears said.

The band’s first official show happened this past fall at Collis Common Ground for a Collis After Dark event. Since then, Burn the Barn has performed at a number of AXA events, Battle of the Bands and most recently at Epsilon Kappa Theta’s Thetaroo this past weekend. Half a year into their collaboration, the band is still experimenting with their sound.

“I appreciate the poppier turn the group has taken, and am glad we left some of the Red Hot Chili Peppers behind along the way,” Pears said.

When asked about their favorite songs to perform, each member of the group had a different answer. Pears likes “I Shot the Sheriff” by Eric Clapton, while Cofer prefers “Take On Me” by A-ha. Farid’s favorite is “Outside Woman Blues” by Blind Joe Reynolds due the extended drum solo but admits that his favorite song that the band performs is “I’m a Believer,” originally recorded by the Monkees. Larie is a fan of “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” by Jet because it draws a lot of energy from the crowd and “semi-prominently features the bass.”

There was greater consensus among the band members about their favorite performances so far. Battle of the Bands at Sarner Underground and Black Ice Live at AXA came out on top because both events featured multiple campus bands, the members said. The group also compared the two, mentioning that Battle of the Bands had the advantage of nice equipment, but Black Ice Live was a big fun party on the band members’ own turf.

“One of the things we’ve really enjoyed is playing with other campus bands, and hearing what they’re playing,” Cofer said. “It’s exciting because it brings a more diverse crowd.”

The group, Larie said, “got a lot more serious about practicing this term.” Participating in the band is about a 10-hour weekly commitment, but the guys do not plan on slowing down anytime soon.

“It’s been great to see what we can accomplish with the right guys that were able to step up with the right resources,” Pears said.

When asked what the band means to them beyond just playing instruments, Pears explained that live band experience is something that is slowly disappearing.

“It’s less efficient, but once in a while people want to jump around and listen to live music,” he said.

Cofer agreed — “live music, there’s no substitute for it it’s awesome.”

Burn the Barn will be performing on Wednesday, May 7 at Alpha Delta fraternity.

Casey Lewis