By: Mason McClay – Cento Writer
Take a moment to visualize sitting in a biology lecture. Now as you glance at your professor, a striking image catches your eye — a seashell bra and short-shorts donned on a middle-aged man’s body, the same man who is continuing to discuss snakes’ ability to process vibrations through their jaw bones while completely unaware of his lack of clothing.
Meet Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Brian Storz, the man with an arsenal of not only seashell bras, but also coconut bras, pink unicorn costumes, and glam rocker outfits. And these ensembles have a story.
As the founder of the band Dump Truck on the Run, Storz has recruited several Centre faculty members since the band’s inception in 2009, with a roster of full-time members that include Women’s Soccer Assistant Coach Jessica Chisley on vocals, sax, and percussion; Web Communications Assistant of the Communications Office John Rusnak on vocals, keyboard, and percussion; Aaron Jones on rhythm and lead guitar; and Drew Meadows on drums. Director of Community Service and the Bonner Program and Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Matthew Klooster plays bass and H.W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Biology Mike Barton is the final member of the band, taking on rhythm and lead guitar.
The creation of Dump Truck on the Run has been the culmination of several fascinating life experiences of Storz, who plays bass and percussion and is a vocalist for the band as well. One such experience involves his former career as a Christian rapper that toured throughout California and Canada. After performing bass with a blues and classic rock band in graduate school, Dr. Storz made a crucial and lasting life decision: no longer will he be in a band that takes themselves seriously. Cue the ridiculous clothing.
“Nobody cares about bands that take themselves too seriously,” Storz said, “because then the band forgets to care about their audience.”
Instead, after scouting the local music scene in Danville, Storz noticed that the prominent blues and folk culture was lacking a band that would provide their audience with an uppity tempo centered in recognizable songs from the 1960s through the 1990s .
“So I decided to organize a band that would fill the niche of more popular music. Although most of us aren’t necessarily the biggest fans of these songs,” Storz said, “all we care about is getting the audience out on the dance floor. After all, the best feeling is to know that you’re helping people have a good time.”
Although Barton, one of the first recruits of the band, found his influences in the blues theme that “runs through the likes of Neil Young, Steely Dan, Allman Brothers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and old blues like Robert Johnson and Elmore James,” he shares the same interest as Storz.
“[I like] playing real upbeat stuff that folks [can] dance to and get happy with,” Barton said. “For just the ability to get the crowd going, I enjoy playing ‘Love Shack’ and ‘Let’s Go Crazy.’”
With a repertoire of music ranging from The B-52’s to Gloria Gaynor and Bobby Brown, Dump Truck on the Run attracts, according to Storz, a demographic of women aged 32 to 62. However, their beginning stages attracted an audience that was entirely different. That is, mainly Centre students.
Although not many Centre students attend their concerts now, Dr. Storz expresses that the lack of a Centre audience makes it much easier for him to “separate [his] personal life from [his] professional life.”
“After all, it is much easier to wear a seashell bra in front of a random audience than in front of a Centre student and his mother,” Storz said.
As a modest observer, Dr. Barton’s philosophy on performances is much different.
“As far as the ridiculous outfits go, I let the more extroverted members in the band take care of that,” Barton said. “I’m the one in black jeans and a T-shirt.”
However, it is not too late to change the demographic of Dump Truck on the Run’s present audience (as well as Storz’s level of comfortability). Adhering to a monthly performances schedule, their next concert will be on St. Patrick’s Day (March 15), at V the Market. This will also be a great chance to see them perform live off of campus, clad in absurd outfits, and without a boundary of a chicken wire cage.
Why chicken wire, you ask?
The story begins a few years ago when Dump Truck on the Run was performing during the homecoming party for dozens of Centre alumni. According to Storz, at some point during the night, “a former frat bro who had obviously been drinking all night” approached the band and belligerently demanded him to play a certain song.
After several minutes of being pestered the helpless members of Dump Truck on the Run, the band took action. The soundman at the time got up and put the man in a chokehold, and proceeded to throw the drunkard out of the building.
Now, do not let the lore of your professors’ musical history distract you from the real educational experience of Centre College.
But, it could not hurt to discover the truly eccentric identities of the minds behind the exam formattings and lecture PowerPoints; you know, the greyer things of learning that don’t serve our professors’ unique personalities the justice they deserve.