High School Band On The Rise!

Hailey Liga, Wes Dewey, and Lily Bourke

Have you ever heard of young teenage high school rock stars? This September, a couple of friends and I sat down for an interview with Theater of Malum, a four piece band of students who attend West Springfield High School. The members are lead singer Darren Chraplak, drummer Bruce Dumont, guitarist Eli Olesen, and bassist Ian Gallacher. We were given the opportunity to share their story on how Theater of Malum was formed, some of the pros and cons that go along with being in a band, as well as more behind the scenes content!

The word Malum means ‘evil’ in Latin which means that ‘Theater of Malum’ really stands for ‘theater of evil’ but they made note that they aren’t evil. It took a bit of time to come up with a name like that. Originally they had come up with ‘theater of’ but wanted to find a cool word to fit with that, and that’s where the rest of the name came into play. The band originated after their first performance at their 7th grade talent show where they performed Sad but True by Metallica. It was then that they discovered how much they had a passion for performing, and Metallica being their inspiration for the music that they like to play. They met through the school’s band, but they didn’t actually become the friend group they are today until their freshman year. The band has been together since then, however, members have come and gone. Eli joined two years later after the previous bassist left. Since then, the band has played countless shows all over West Springfield and out of town as well, like the Big E back in 2021. They sometimes do shows for charity at no cost. At the moment, the number of performances they have played is about 50, having improved much since they first started. They have an Instagram for their band and each have their personal Instagram accounts for anyone that wants to reach out to them. Facebook or email are options as well. On August 13th, 2021, the band got to open for popular metal band Saliva and according to the boys, the sound was great! Later that same year, they also played a show at the Big E. The Big E was Darren’s favorite performance; as for Eli, he felt the opposite towards that performance. The boys revealed to us that the plan is to stick with the band and keep pursuing music and go worldwide after high school and when they move onto college (if they plan on going to college). When we asked them about the support that they receive from their fans, we learned that even their families love what they do and go as far as to show support by following the boys to their shows. The band plays at the dances we have at the high school, like homecoming and the spring fling, and the students that attend the dances show support by being in the audience and cheering them on. They find it easier to play when they know their family and friends are in the crowd. According to Darren, his grandfather is his biggest supporter even though he’s not the biggest fan of rock/metal music.

While the band has brought the four of them much fortune there are also some downsides to the profession. Some of the hardships they face are practicing in the studio for hours on end, working together, agreeing on certain things like song names and lyrics, neck and head pain after a loud and active show. Regardless of how rocky things may get, they have all made a commitment to each other to prioritize the music. When on stage, the boys put their issues aside and give their all during performances. One of the main challenges for the band is not being taken seriously because of their age. The boys are only juniors so gaining people’s support is harder, mainly from adults. Lots of people at shows think they aren’t that great because they are younger, and sometimes don’t get paid because of their age as well. Another challenge they face, though minor, is managing their time. For the most part they know how to manage school and home life and band life and whatever their biggest priority is, they focus on that first, whether it has to do with the band or not. It helps with their schedules considering 3 out of 4 of the members are also part of the Marching Terrier Band.

The band’s heavily inspired by 80s/90s rock and metal, for example Metallica, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, etc. They also take inspiration from all different kinds of music and bring it into their music. Some examples of other genres they play are Indie and slower songs, but it might depend on the type of people in the crowd and what they like because not everyone is a huge fan of loud rock music. They don’t always play songs that get you moving and raise your adrenaline. For the most part the boys aren’t nervous while being on stage because they’re in their element and can shut out the feeling of nervousness. Also they know what they’re doing based on practices they have. Darren made note that he has a few personal favorite songs which are You’re Nothing, The Fallen, and The Edge Of The Unknown, which took almost a year to write.

If you’re the type of person who’s into rock and roll, heavy metal, and other music along the lines of rock, Theater of Malum is definitely suggested to check out and rock out to. The band is very dedicated to what they do and they appreciate their fan base so much. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of rock, you should check out one of their shows and support your fellow classmates!