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St. Mark's School of Texas
10600 Preston Road Dallas, TX 75230
The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas

ReMarker

The Student News Site of St. Mark's School of Texas

ReMarker

Rock band captures spotlight

Fueled by their individual talent and shared passion for rock music, the group views their performances this year as only the beginning of its musical journey, setting its sights on greater goals for the years to come.
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PHOTO / TIGER YANG
JAM SESSION Rock band members junior Calvin Yates (top left), junior George Hoverman (top left center), junior Jackson Williams (top right center), junior Daniel Deng (top right) and junior Wyatt Loehr (bottom) pose after an energetic afternoon of practicing together for future performances.

The band’s instruments gleam beneath a spotlight as students and faculty members stream into Decherd Auditorium. The atmosphere buzzes with curious anticipation. Once the usual announcements are made, the bright ceiling lights dim over the audience and Smurb (rock band) strides onto the stage, stationing themselves at their instruments.
Wyatt Loehr sits at the drumset. Calvin Yates and Deven Aurora steady their guitars. George Hoverman and Jackson Williams hold their mics. As the drums set the rhythm and the bass guitar’s deep energetic chords ring through the hall, the performance kicks off.
Smurb’s origin was sparked by the collective pursuit of musical interests. Inspiration struck junior vocalist George Hoverman in the spring of last school year. As a long-time member of the choir, he was part of a select group that represented the choir at the annual Independent School Association of the Southwest (ISAS) Arts Festival. There, along with classmates, he enjoyed performances from students all across the southwest, but one especially stood out to him.
“One of the subsections was a rock band, and I thought, ‘why doesn’t St. Mark’s have one of those?’” Hoverman said. “We have so many talented kids, so we could totally do that. So last year myself, Wyatt Loehr, Aadi Khasgiwala ’23 and Calvin Yates met a week before school ended and just were like, ‘let’s play a song,’ and it was so much fun.”
Afterward, the band made a group chat and looked to continue with the practices. However, with Khasgiwala’s departure, they needed to find another guitarist to fill his shoes. Fortunately, this issue was quickly resolved: freshman Deven Aurora promptly stepped up to the position.
Aurora grew up loving the guitar. When he was younger, his father, a big rock fan himself, often played concert albums at home from bands like AC/DC, and Aurora regularly danced across the living room to the music.
“When I heard the guitar player, I would think, ‘Whoa, that guy is amazing,’” Aurora said. “I started playing the guitar when I was 6 or 7, but I didn’t take practice very seriously until I was ten. I tried the trumpet briefly, but I wasn’t very good at it, so I decided to stick with the guitar.”
Guided by the musical style of artists like Tim Henson of Polyphia and Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, Aurora experimented with new techniques as well as music composition.
“The guitar is a relatively new instrument, so there are a lot of new techniques that are still being pioneered,” Aurora said. “I’ve learned how to play the guitar like a piano with two hands–playing chords on one hand and lead lines with the other.”
Aurora also learned how to play more Hip-Hop and EDM songs as well. Learning these guitar songs has been something that Aurora grew to love and appreciate.
“There are two things that I especially like about playing guitar. One, it gives me an outlet. School is stressful, and when I’m angry, I can sit down and play guitar for hours. Secondly, outside of St. Mark’s, the guitar provides me with talking points when I’m talking to people, and it gives me a community.”
Like other traditional rock bands, Aurora’s role as the lead guitarist requires support for his melodies — in every performance, they’re accompanied by junior Yates’s bass guitar.
Joining the school as a band member in Middle School, Yates took a musical path, branching out from his prior experience as a pianist. This new journey with the bass guitar is one of fulfillment, sparked by the help of former Band Director Tim Hicks. He doesn’t regret his decision, and his involvement with Rock Band is no different.
“My favorite part about this band is the way we can bring people from different grades together and then perform for them,” Yates said. “We have a performance at ISAS, and hopefully we can get people together from other schools to come out and support us. It brings joy.”
Usually, any band’s backbone is the drums. During a performance, all other instruments are fine details that flourish upon the drummer’s steady rhythmic foundation — this is junior Wyatt Loehr’s job as the drums specialist.
Similar to Yates, Loehr primarily expresses his gratitude for Hicks’ mentorship, which also began at the onset of Loehr’s musical career as a band member.
“Mr. Hicks was probably my biggest influence because he taught me that it’s better to be loud and wrong than quiet and right,” Loehr said. “That helped me a lot when I had to have a leadership role that I have now in the band, Blues Club and Rock Band.”
Loehr believes that their performance during the Upper School assembly showcased their collective talent and served as a significant milestone in the band’s development. Prior, the group would regularly perform at Coffeehouse, and although they received much acclaim at the event, Loehr still looked to expand.
Coffeehouses were repetitive to him, so with the addition of a rock band to the school, he feels that there is now a new special flair to the mix.
“I think more people have been excited for Coffeehouses now that there’s a more serious, live music aspect compared to what it was for a while,” Loehr said. “Before it would always be people singing over a YouTube track or the guitar or piano. I think live music is something that not a lot of high schools get to have, so it’s a unique experience.”
As practices went on, Hoverman and the rest of the band realized that there was a limit to how much they could do with only one vocalist. Hoverman knew his voice wouldn’t last long enough for him to sing at Coffeehouses, and without a backing vocalist some of the songs the rock band were playing just didn’t sound as good. So, he pulled in fellow chorist junior Jackson Williams.
“One day, he told me, ‘Hey, go to a practice sometime,’” Williams said. “So then I sang with them, and now we have two singers in the rock band.”
In the future, Loehr hopes to expand the band’s roster and continue to add school-wide events for next school year, as well as performances beyond the school community. In addition, he envisions the group’s legacy as a place for leisure and creativity.
“I’m hoping that Rock Band sticks around when I go to college,” Loehr said. “Right now it’s all juniors and then Deven, who’s a freshman, so hopefully it sticks. The band definitely helped me make some friends, and it’s helped me find a place to be.”

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About the Contributors
Kevin Ho, Staff Writer
Kayden Zhong, Staff Writer