JOURNEY OF A BAND: STUDENTS FIND MUSICAL CHEMISTRY AT GTCC
By Jana Carver
HIGH POINT — In fall 2015, three Guilford Technical Community College students discovered they had musical chemistry. They first met in GTCC’s Music Ensemble, a group of musicians and singers who perform concerts two to three times a year at the college’s Larry Gatlin School of Entertainment Technology. The result? Mightier Than Me, an alternative rock/pop band.
The idea to start the band originated with 31-year-old lead guitarist, Wes Frank Norman. After hearing auditions for the ensemble, Norman approached Randy Williams (lead vocals/ rhythm guitar) and Robert Seawell (backing vocals/ bass guitar) about starting a band. The threesome clicked and formed Mightier Than Me, adding Charlie Fuson on drums and Michael Dorsett on keys later on.
Since then, they’ve been making a name for themselves by playing gigs around town. They’re also currently recording their first EP (scheduled to be released Sept. 1) at the college’s recording studio.
We sat down and spoke with Norman, Williams and Seawell to hear what they had to say about their journey as both students and artists.
What made you decide to attend GTCC?
Randy: I’d always been a computer science major before I came here, but I kind of decided that I just want to do what I love, you know?
Wes: I’d been in this field for live sound and lighting and recording engineering, and even the musical part of it for years anyway, but I was kind of struggling, so I figured I’d come here and get a better grasp of what I’m doing.
What have been some of the significant experiences that occurred during your time here?
Randy: Ensemble is really the thing that kind of overshadows everything else for me.
Robert: Yeah, me too, because all of our performances for ensemble have just been a blast. They’re lots of fun. We get lots of really talented people to perform with, so both of the ensemble performances have been the biggest moments for me since I’ve been here.
What excites you about being a GTCC student?
Randy: One of the things is being taught by people who have experience in their fields. … They’ve actually lived it.
When will you finish your program and what will you do next?
Robert: I’m shooting for 2018, sometime, but, once I finish the recording program, I’m going to stay on and do the same program Wes is doing — the concert lighting and sound. … My goal right now is to just stay at this school for as long as I can and milk it for everything it’s worth because it’s really been a great resource. I mean, I found, not only this band, but lots of other connections in different departments.
Randy: I could have finished this past semester, but I wanted to come back one more time.
What did you come back for?
Randy: Mostly the ensemble. It just keeps getting better every time. I kind of wanted to hang on for a little while longer, and, this semester, they’re actually letting our group do all original songs.
What does that mean to you?
Wes: Well, the ensemble group, since it’s been created, has always covered music — like popular music on the radio — so this will be a first, I think. … When we started, we were the first original song, and now we’re going to be the first group to do all originals.
What is your favorite part about being part of this band?
Randy: It really helps to be in a band with people that you really enjoy being around in general.
Robert: It’s the camaraderie, and it doesn’t hurt that we’re all kind of in the same age with the same interests.
Are you applying what you’re learning from your programs into what you do in the band?
Wes: Definitely. Anytime we go to a place, we need live sound and lighting, and, sometimes, you got to do it yourself. It’s a lot of help actually knowing what to do.
What would you say makes music special to you?
Randy: My favorite thing in the world is writing songs. You know, creating melodies, and emotions, and stories from absolutely nothing … and putting them out there, letting people hear them, and letting it touch them in whatever way feels right for them.
Robert: What makes it special to me, is that now that we’ve done all of the work … when we’re actually playing, it feels natural.
Did you guys think it was going to lead to making an EP?
Wes: For me, yeah. That was the plan.
Robert: Yeah. I didn’t think it would happen this fast, though. … A lot of that [success] has come from the support that the teachers and students have given us here.
What are your career aspirations? What is “the dream” for you?
Robert: Being able to support ourselves, just playing music is really all of our goals.
Wes: Yeah, and this place helps a lot with that. Even though it’s not a musically focused school — it’s technical, you know? But it still has music, and it still has stuff that helps you be a musician. And then, also, while you’re here, you’re learning a pretty good backup plan.
– August 26, 2016