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2 inches with Dave
My night with Mister Doctor Professor
By Ben Larson
Fort Wayne Reader
You may have just heard of local band Mister Doctor Professor, but the fact is that they have been around for a few years now. The reason they’ve been under the radar for so long is that they used to only play a small handful of shows every year (usually no more than half a dozen at the most). However, they recently decided to start playing out more, and have played at least 9 shows in 2010 so far. Made up of Chad Briner on guitar, David Hays on Bass, Rudy Rinearson on drums, and Jason Williams on guitar and vocals (I have it on good authority, though, that Mr. Williams is also a very talented bass player), Mister Doctor Professor was kind enough to let me sit in during their practice time so I could learn what makes them tick.
The story of how Mister Doctor Professor formed is a convoluted one, but I’ll do my best to give you the main points in such a way that it makes sense. The members of MDP all went to high school together in North Manchester, and have been playing music together, in one form or another, ever since. Hays and Briner were playing mostly in punk bands at the time, while Rinearson and Williams were heading in a more dj/electronic direction. A little later on, all of them started to get a taste for more underground/indie music, and began playing together. MDP itself formed in 2005 after Hays, Williams, and Rinearson had been jamming for a while under such names as Money & Robots, and Ham. They then they decided to bring Briner in as another guitar. “I was living in Chicago at the time,” Briner told me, “and used to drive down on weekends to practice.” Adding to the already slightly head-spinning story is how Williams and Rinearson used to switch instruments periodically. According to Rinearson, “the sound was pretty much the same, but Jason and I used to switch between drums and singing.” Williams then said “but then we made a conscious decision for me to stick with guitar and Rudy to stay on drums, and I think it’s worked out.” At that point MDP as we know it today was finally solidified.
MDP cut their teeth at the now legendary Firehouse in North Manchester, and really want to stress how thankful they are to owner Jabin Burnworth for his help in getting them started. Hays said “we didn’t necessarily realize it at the time, but we were pretty privileged where we were. Jabin gave us all kinds of shows.” “it’s just ridiculous to think that bands like Of Montreal were coming through there while we were in high school,” said Briner, “and it’s also a venue that lets you help it out, like, we all did sound and some point, and helped build the stage there.” “Enough can’t be said about how influential the Firehouse was in our career,” said Hays, “and how awesome Jabin is,” added Williams. “I can’t possibly hype that guy enough.” If you think they are exaggerating at all when it comes to Jabin and the Firehouse’s help with MDP, just know that the building not only served as free practice space for the band to use whenever they wanted, but the members of MDP also got to open up some serious indie heavies such as Cursive and Paper Chase. Not bad for a bunch of kids who come from a place where, according to Briner “you either become a jock or you do crazy drugs and do nothing.”
The result of this long story is a band who is quite unique to our area. MDP’s sound could be described as “intricate indie rock,” but it wouldn’t do the band justice. By combining elements of punk, post-rock, and indie rock (for lack of a better term), Mister Doctor Professor creates music that is meticulously crafted and melodic, yet manages to keep the feelings of intensity and urgency of the members’ early punk roots. As to why they play this style, Briner started to explain by saying “[David and I] had been playing in punk bands for a long time, and we saw [Rudy and Jason] playing more experimental type stuff,” “more talented stuff, basically,” added Hays. Rinearson then went on to say “I think our style generates itself just by the nature of how free it is. Anybody can do whatever they want . . . nobody’s right and nobody’s wrong,” meaning every band member is free to play whatever they think fits best with what everyone else is doing. Think of it as more of a co-op or collective, rather than a band with preconceived ideas about what each song should sound like.
This is not to say that the carte blanche attitude is endless, however, as I learned from Hays. “It helps that we’ve all been friends for so long, because you don’t have to be afraid to say that something sucks. You don’t have to worry about someone having a huge ego. We’re friends first, and then we’re band mates.” So each member is allowed nearly limitless freedom when it comes to the music, but if it stinks, then they are also free enough to express that to each other as well.
Since forming, Mister Doctor Professor has recorded and released 1 full-length album (which the individually hand packaged, and made a separate, unique case for each copy), 1 physical EP, and another digital-only EP. They are currently gearing up to go back into the studio for another round of recording, and plan to put out both a full-length album (whether it will be physical or digital is still being decided), and a 7” single on vinyl. In their own words, MDP’s plans for the future are “play more shows, record, give it to our parents, and O’Doyle rules.”