Trombone-Playing UNT Alumni Go Viral With A Kansas Cover.
Listening to a cover of Kansasâ€™ classic song “Carry On My Wayward Son” is not necessarily life changing. Chances are you've heard a shitty cover band play it at the bar during last call, but were too drunk to pay attention.
But how about a version played using mostly trombones? Now, that's something.
Enter Maniacal 4, a group of University of North Texas alumni that has recently taken the Internet by the horns (pun definitely intended) with a video recorded performance of their cover. Currently, their cover of this well-worn territory boasts over 400,000 Youtube views.
Matt Jefferson, Carl Lundgren, Nick Laufer and Alex Dubrov never expected this kind of reaction, of course. They simply set up a couple of cameras and recorded themselves playing the classic late '70s song last year as part of a planned Kickstarter campaign that they hoped would help them pay for their first studio album.
Within the past few weeks, though, the video has exploded, launching the men into the international spotlight — so much so, they say, that they've been approached by both representatives viral management team Viral Spiral and some of America's Got Talent's producers.
“My mom got a call from one of her coworkers in Canada, who had heard us on the radio,” Jefferson says with a laugh.
Perhaps the most interesting part of their recording, at least musically: These guys employ a creative musical technique, using a trombone mute to mimic electrical guitar riffs for their take.
“The mute has a microphone on it, so it picks up the sound,” says Dubrov, who was inspired to try this method after seeing jazz trombonist Darren Kramer using a similar technique. “We just ran it through guitar effects.”
The video was first posted on Youtube in May of last year and had been seen by only a few hundred people in its earliest days, Jefferson recalls. But much to Maniacal 4's surprise, the sound found itself posted all across the Internet — on Laughing Squid, on CBS's entertainment blog and, of course, on Tumblr and Reddit, too.
The guys had no idea that the video would be so widely spread — and subsequently criticized.
“Little did you realize that it is going to be viewed by hundred of thousands of people and picked apart and analyzed,” offers Lundgren, who says he ,mostly laughs at the negative words left in the comments section for the video on YouTube.
Thing is, Jefferson says, the group did certainly deserve to be criticized once upon a time.
“We were pretty terrible at first,” he says before crediting the UNT jazz program with their steady improvement. “Then it started to become more fun than it was work. It didn't feel like a class anymore. I don't know when that happened.”
Before long, the Maniacal 4, who are currently sponsored by brass instrument maker Antoine Courtois Paris, started making waves in the UNT music scene. Since then, they've traveled as far as Brazil, Paris, Denmark and Sweden to perform at trombone festivals.
That whirlwind life continues now for the men, who've put their day-jobs as music teachers and freelance musicians on hold to schedule an upcoming, mini-tour of Midwest college campuses. And what of their Kickstarter funded debut release? Fittingly titled Carry On, it drops on March 12.