The Trojan Marching Band (aka The Greatest Marching Band in the History of the Universe, Ever!) is an integral part of the USC experience. They are not only heavily featured as part of our football gameday experience, but they are heavily featured in all types of USC campus events and non-USC events. Today we have an interview with a current band member to give you the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a part of the TMB!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Interviewer (I): Thanks Terell for being here with us today. Could you start by introducing yourself? Tell us your name, where you’re from, your major, and what year you’re in at USC.
Terrell Mesteth (T): My name’s Terrell Mesteth. I’m from Chinle, Arizona, and I’m a third year studying business administration.
I: How long have you been in the Trojan Marching Band and what do you play?
T: So, this is my third year and I play flute.
I: What made you want to join the marching band? Did you do it in high school or is it just something you became interested in going into college?
T: It was something I did in high school and I wanted to continue it. I wanted to see how it was at first. I thought it was really hard [..], But I ended up really liking it! I did [it] in high school and that was the primary reason I wanted to continue.
I: Was doing marching band in college part of your college decision at all or just a bonus that we have that here?
T: It was one of the factors that made me choose USC. I knew the marching band was really good, [they] were pretty big, and I knew it was a really good program.
I: You talked a little bit about the difficulty of transitioning to a college marching band. What would you say were the biggest differences between your high school band and a college marching band.
T: Definitely the time commitment, I think, was the biggest aspect. In high school, it was very much on a volunteer basis. But here if you decide to go and be in the marching band all practices are mandatory.
I: What does that time commitment look like? And how do you balance that with academics and other parts of your college experience?
T: Practices are on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 4 pm to 6 pm. Saturdays, which are your game days, [practices] are probably from 6 AM to 10 AM. And then game days: Typically kickoff starts at 7pm. We probably get there at 5pm. We don’t come back until around midnight. So it’s a really big time commitment. Literally, like your weekends are gone, like all you do is sleep Sunday. We are catching up from Saturday. Balancing the work is pretty hard, Freshman year was a learning experience, because I took a lot of hard classes during the fall. What I do now [is] I tend to take easier classes during the marching band season. I take more typical major classes when we get off the practice schedule in the spring.
I: What does the time commitment look like during the Spring semester?
T: There’s always gigs going on also. Private gigs happen year round. Also in the spring there’s the basketball band, which I did freshman year. It’s really fun! I mean you get to sit almost courtside. I didn’t do it last year because I wanted to take a break.There’s also the spring band. And then in between there’s also certain events like soccer or water polo that are volunteer. All these events are optional in the Spring.
I: That’s a great thing to mention. The USC band does support all the sports, not just football. Were you interested in college sports at all before coming to USC? Are you interested now?
T: Yeah, definitely! I was not into college sports at all before coming here. I think I only went to one high school football game throughout my entire 4 years in high school. And now when I come home you’ll catch me on Twitter for all these football updates. It’s insane how it changes you. You’ll get really into football. Other college sports too! I follow USC water polo now. I was already into basketball.
I: The Trojan Marching band doesn’t just do school events. Sometimes they are hired for private gigs. Have you been able to participate in any? If so, can you talk about some of your favorite gigs?
T: I’ve done a lot! The Los Angeles Rams gig was fun. This was last year. It was a full band gig. We dressed up and everything and did a half time show for them.There was also an event in Orange County at a mansion. That was really fun. The view is amazing. It is on top of a hill over the ocean and around sunset. That was a 40 person band gig.
I: The band goes to all football games, home and away. I know that only parts of the band go to every away game. In your two years in the band, what have been your favorite trips?
T: The past two big trips we’ve gone on I have really loved. First was the Chicago trip, which is the Notre Dame game. That was fun. You get to hang out with your friends and stuff. And then going home when we played Arizona last year. I had a lot of friends there and that was really fun.
I: What would you say the culture of the marching band is like?
T: We’re a really close knit community. It’s just like an activity that we all love to do. It’s very school spirited. We are all die hard USC fans.
I: What is the band director, Jake Vogel like?
T: I was here for his very first year as a director. He definitely cares about us. I mean, if you have any problems, he wants us to go to him. He’s really helpful and caring!
I: What is your favorite game memory in your 2 years? .
T: Definitely the UCLA game that happened last year was my favorite. We absolutely got destroyed my first year.Then we went back last year and we won. To make it better it was at the Rose Bowl and that was really fun. The atmosphere was great and it was a really good football game, too. That game determined if we were going to the Pac-12 Championship.
I: What is your favorite thing about being in the marching band?
T: I’ve already said this a lot, but probably the connections. The connections you have, especially with the class you enter with, will definitely last a long time. Those bonds you make in band you’ll have for the rest of your life. I know alumni and they still talk to people they were in the band with which I think is the big benefit.
I: What is the process of joining the band like?
T: I thought the process was very easy. I just looked at the marching band’s website. This was during the summer before I came into USC. There’s literally a form. You just sign up and you show up. They’ll email the itinerary. You don’t need any prior experience or music background or anything. It’s very open for everyone. There’s no auditions. There are auditions for drumline, though. They aren’t mandatory, but are used for instrument placement within the drumline.
They situate you with early move-in for your dorming, but if that doesn’t work out they’ll also get you at the hotel.
I: To any prospective Trojan band, members that are reading this now what words of wisdom do you have to say to them?
T: Definitely join! If you’re on the borderline join.You won’t regret it. You’ll have really close friends even before school starts. You always have that friend group to rely on. I would say the opportunities are crazy. You’ll meet crazy famous people and you’ll get to do crazy adventures. It’s really awesome! Lastly, stay hydrated!
Written by Alexander Castro, Assistant Director