The Sounds of Machu Picchu
By Catherine Van Weele
A group of young, tenacious musicians formed their own band, Machu Picchu, last fall at Novato High.
“On the first day of rock band class everyone was walking into different rooms and we were all standing out here and we were like let's be in a band together,” Hazle Thunes recalled.
Thunes is a junior and a co-vocalists with sophomore Dasia Tazawa. Together they collaborate on writing lyrics and melodies. Sophomore Preston Gasser, pianist, writes the chords and senior Adam Brodsky, drummer, helps structure the songs. Senior Max Herrerias is on bass and junior Dan Parker, who joined the band later on, plays the guitar.
“I was trying to find a band to join and I noticed there was no guitar player here,” Parker said. The rest is history.
This is their first year playing together as a band, although many of them have played together before in other bands and music classes.
Originally, the band was called BYOJ which stood for Bring Your Own Jams. Unsatisfied with this name, they felt that they wanted to change it to something relating to nature or a landmark; and the name Machu Picchu just seemed to stick.
“[Our music] is a big hodgepodge of different sounds,” said Brodsky.
Machu Picchu strives for their own unique sound with progressive elements and an influence of jazz and rock. They draw inspiration from bands such as Hiatus Kaiyote, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Snarky Puppy along with other old R&B and new jazz fusion bands. Machu Picchu creates their own music by building on top of one another which they refer to as a ‘snowball effect’.
“I usually start jamming on something with the band and I’ll just keep building on it at home, and it will be a chord progression; and we kinda play from there, writing these sections,” Gasser explained.
Machu Picchu creates great music, but it does not come without difficulty.
“The biggest challenge is that a lot of people feel like they know the answer to how the song should go and it’s really difficult to navigate who should say what goes where and who should decide how this part goes,” Brodsky said.
Although independent from Marin School of the Arts, MSA helps to facilitate some gigs for bands of MSA students, including Machu Picchu. Their most recent concert was at the Fenix Theatre in downtown San Rafael. While the band felt it was not their best show, they still enjoyed performing.
“We have high expectations for ourselves,” Thunes said, “but it’s always fun to get up there and play.”
Unless Machu Picchu decides to continue to play into the summer, their time together as a band will come to an end when the school year is over. Until then, they hope to continue creating as much music and they can and perhaps end up recording it.
“How far we want to take it is up to us,” Thunes asserted.