Ryan Kosola (vocals and guitar), Paul Gedbaw (guitar), Justin Connealy (bass and vocals), Taylor Stein (drums)
SCS: Tell us how Ten O'Clock Scholars started as a band.
Taylor: Paul and I started the band back in 2000, our senior year of high school, with our old bass player, Derek Vanosdall. We started out pretty much because we always had hair-brained ideas and this was just the next logical step. I was a self-taught drummer who hadn’t really played since sixth grade, and the other two had no music background…so why not start a band? We actually became the Ten O’Clock Scholars in the summer of 2000 when Ryan joined the group after he was introduced by a mutual friend. We were pretty bad back then, but it was fun just to practice. We only played a few shows over the course of two or three years, and were a three piece for awhile, with Paul playing bass, until Connealy joined the band in 2003.
Ryan: Yep, that sounds about right. I just remember going up to Omaha thinking “who are these guys?” But we had fun turning Taylor’s parents’ living room into a practice space.
Justin: I don’t know why or how I actually got in the band. Stein pretty much called me out of the blue and seeing as how I had no experience playing bass whatsoever, I figured why not join the band.
Paul: I was always opposed to Taylor, Ryan and Justin being in the band.
SCS: How would you define your band or your sound to someone who’s never heard or seen you
Taylor: I usually say that we’re a little Indie Pop Rock…but that might not make sense. We sing. There’s no screaming. We have good lyrics. Just good old, exciting Pop Rock, I guess.
Paul: We go for catchy.
SCS: What about one of your shows? -- If people come to see you live, what can they expect?
Taylor: I’d say that we’re kind of like the explosion that happens when you put a Mentos into a two liter of Diet Coke…only without the Mentos…and the Diet Coke. Come to think of it there’s no real explosion either.
Paul: I’m in control of stage right, and stage right will be rockin’ out. And, our drummer somewhat resembles a muppet. We try and have fun and be professional too. Sometimes both happen, sometimes neither. Whatever.
SCS: What types of music and which musicians/groups influenced the band members?
Taylor: We all bring something a little different to the table. At a young age I was personally influenced by whatever my cousin was listening to…R.E.M., U2, the Beatles, and the list goes on. Eventually I got into Dave Matthews Band, G. Love and Special Sauce, Pearl Jam, Weezer and many others. Actually, a lot of local bands influenced us as a band. We started out learning some covers of Five Story Fall, Blue Moon Ghetto, Carolyn’s Mother, and Poppleton.
Paul: Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan, Death Cab for Cutie, Nada Surf, Pedro the Lion…yeah, when I write, I have Pedro in my head…The Beatles, Weezer. Is that enough?
Ryan: Carolyn’s Mother, Matt Banta, Pearl Jam, Bright Eyes, Five Story Fall, etc.
SCS: What are your goals for this band, touring, just playing around town?
Taylor: When we started out I was cool with just playing around town, but I’d love to tour regionally or nationally if given the chance. You only live once and real jobs are overrated.
Paul: If this could be a real job, I’d like that. You know, if I could live off music.
Justin: I’m in a band?
SCS: What experience did you have in bands before 10 O’CS got together?
Taylor: I believe that I’d played Elvis’ “Hound Dog” at a practice session with my cousin’s band when I was twelve. So zero…none…whatever the scale is.
Paul: I’ve never been in another band, but I’ve played with other musicians. We never blended as well together.
Justin: I played in a band with my two brothers for a gig at a coffee shop in Ralston. I was the drummer. Then I don’t know what happened between then and about five years later when Stein asked me to join this band as a bass player.
SCS: How have you grown, musically and creatively, since the band first started?
Taylor: I would say we are much better musicians than even just a year ago. I mean our first song was a G.Love-esque rap, so we’ve come a long way…even though that song is still fun to play.
Ryan: e’ve most definitely evolved as a band musically from the early days.
Paul: We’ve evolved. When we started out, we were at the immaturity of our song “All We Do Is Lounge”…and now we’re at the pinnacle of maturity of our song “High School Girls”…which is a song that we’re currently working on, but can never truly exist because it’s just too mature...
SCS: Who writes the songs and how do you work them from the idea stage to finished product?
Taylor: Ryan and Paul take care of that most of the time. I’ll contribute some lyrics every now and then, but with the exception of a couple songs, they write them all. Usually one of them will come to practice with some music and we’ll play through it for awhile until some lyrics get written and it starts to take shape. I really just provide the beat to their ideas, so it’s not that hard for me.
Paul: I guess ideas have always come from working by myself on songs.
Ryan: The music comes much easier. The lyrics are the hard part.
Justin: I’ve got a song I’ve been working on for about a year now.
SCS: When and where was your first local show, and how did it go?
Taylor: I’d say we had three first local shows. Our first ever show was for about a dozen friends in my parent’s basement. That video should never see the light of day. Then, our first show in public was at Caffeine Dreams, but we played as an acoustic three piece at that show. I think two people clapped that we didn’t know, so that was cool. Then, our first real show with the current lineup was in Feb. of 2003 at The Ranch Bowl. It went well but we were all concentrating on not screwing up so much that there wasn’t a lot of “rocking out” going on.
SCS: What was your most memorable live performance and what made it that?
Taylor: For me it was probably our second time playing up in Storm Lake, IA, at Buena Vista University when we opened for Jeffrey Gaines. He was playing an acoustic set and brought us back on stage to jam with him and we actually found two songs that we both knew, so we jammed with him on “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and “Rockin’ In The Free World.” Oh, and did I mention that he has three Grammy’s?...he has three Grammy’s.
Paul: Probably a random Thursday show at Knickerbockers when we opened for Mr. 1986. There were a lot of people there and it just felt really good on stage. People were into it.
Ryan: We played a show at The Spotlight Club about a year ago with Ten Cent Redemption, former members of Carolyn’s Mother. Rhett Lee came up and sang the old Carolyn’s Mother song “Back Porch” with us, which fulfilled one of those life-long dreams that I could cross off of the list.
SCS: What do you like and dislike about the music scene in Lincoln?
Taylor: The people are nice but the parking sucks.
SCS: No shit! So have you learned anything in your experiences in a band that you feel newer local bands could learn from, or made any mistakes they should avoid?
Paul: Know what you’re getting into.
Taylor: Don’t play private parties where you don’t know anybody and that, even though you told them up front what they were getting, they still expect you to be a cover band.
Justin: There’s a lot of stuff that you don’t think about affecting the band, like work and fishing trips. We got a lot better when we started practicing to the point of monotony.
SCS: Who are some local bands or musicians that you admire or feel should be recognized?
Taylor: I’m a big fan of Anonymous American, and know one of the guys in the Jazzwholes. If either of those bands make it big, I’d be stoked because those guys are all talented musicians and deserve to be heard by the masses. Our friends in Third Frate need some recognition too. They’re just a fun rock and roll band. And as far as just Lincoln bands, Oranjesta is one of the better bands I’ve seen.
Paul: Neva Dinova, but their on Saddle-Creek so they probably get recognized. The Golden Age. Third Frate definitely needs some recognition in the local scene.
SCS: Who’s your favorite local band to play with?
Taylor: Third Frate. Hands down the best guys to have a rock show with because A) They’re cool guys and 2) They rock.
Paul: Third Frate.
Justin: Hell yes, Third Frate.
SCS: Do you think growing up/living in Lincoln influences your music in any way?
Taylor: I’m from Omaha. I can tell you that Omaha has, but that’s not the question. Ask Ryan.
Ryan: The Lincoln music scene hasn’t really influenced me that much. I would say the Omaha music scene influenced me a little more. Although I would say going to all sorts of Carolyn’s Mother shows in Lincoln as a kiddo…sneaking into bars to see them play when I was underage, was influential. I guess Rhett Lee would be my local music “hero.” And I guess the classical music scene in Lincoln influenced me a lot. Taking guitar lessons from Rusty Banks.
SCS: Are you working on a new album now, and if so, when do you expect it to come out?
Taylor: We just released our first full length album, “Bridges and Brighter Days” back in May, so nothing in the immediate future. We’ve got a couple new songs that we might record to have in the can, so we don’t have that pressure of recording an entire album in one sitting.
SCS: Was there one defining moment which led you to a life of rock and roll?
Taylor: Not really. I just have fun playing. Music’s in the blood or something.
Paul: Probably the first first G.Love concert Stein and I went to at the Ranch Bowl in 1998. It was all down hill from there.
SCS: If you could tour with any band in history, who would be your dream band to tour with?
Taylor: Wow, tough one. For me, probably Dave Matthews Band, but pretty much any band I’ve ever liked I’d love to tour with. I know Paul and Ryan will probably say Pearl Jam and that’d be fine by me.
Paul: Pearl Jam.
Ryan: Pearl Jam. But that’s the cheesy thing to say, so I guess maybe David Dondero.
Justin: KISS or AC/DC. Am I outta the band, guys?
SCS: What was the first album/CD you bought?
Taylor: I had the tape Weird Al: In 3D
Paul: TuPac’s Strictly For My Niggaz. Yeah, that’s right.
SCS: The most recent?
Taylor: G.Love and Special Sauce – Lemonade
Paul: Rocky Votolato - Suicide Medicine
SCS: List off your top five albums of all time?.
Paul: Pearl Jam - Ten
Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks
Death Cab For Cutie – We Have The Facts and We’re Voting Yes
Stellastarr - Stellastarr
The Beatles - Let It Be…but then I’m leaving out Radiohead. No, no…stick with Let It Be.
Taylor: Dave Matthews Band – Under the Table and Dreaming
G Love and Special Sauce – Philadelphonic
The Beatles – The White Album
Pearl Jam – Vs
U2 – Achtung Baby
Justin: I plead the 5th
SCS: What can we look forward to in the next year from the band?
Taylor: Hopefully good things. Lots of shows, maybe a trip to Colorado, or Lawrence, KS, or Chicago. Some new songs and kickin’ live shows. Maybe, just maybe, Ryan coming on stage in a giant hamster ball.
Paul: 18 new songs. More rock, less talk. And a calander.
SCS: Anything else you want to share with our readers?
Paul: No, I’ve said too much.
Taylor: I hope we haven’t scared you off yet because we’d love to see you at a show. Come say hi because despite what you read, we’re pretty nice guys.
- Tery Daly