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A conversation with Evan Meiers

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN The Minot High School drumline performs at a basketball game earlier this year.

Evan Meiers is the head instructor of the Minot High School drumline and a Minot Public Schools band director.

The Minot Daily News spoke with Meiers about his North Dakota roots, his music taste, his love for the outdoors and more. Some responses are edited for brevity and clarity.

MDN: How did the Magi drumline come to be?

EM: This is kind of the second installment of it. Back in the mid-2000s, the Magi drumline was a thing. It was led by a guy named Jamiel Vadell. He was from Florida and he was stationed here. He started it and it was highly successful, but then he moved away.

I was a part of that. I was going to college here, so I was kind of a helper. I moved away and did my own thing for a few years. I taught in Stanley for nine years and then came back to Minot. I heard that they wanted to get a (drumline) going, so I dipped my toe in. They basically said, ‘Here you go. Go with it.’

We wanted to see if the interest was there. We made sure that we had numbers, we had equipment and we had everything. This year, we said, ‘Okay, we’re going all in.’ Man, it caught on fire.

MDN: What emotions were you feeling as the students performed on game nights?

EM: What we really try to do is try to instill some performance rules and regulations in their minds. They don’t get caught up in the performance. We are performing for other people. That was one of our first performances in front of people other than last year. This was one of the first times where we were like, ‘OK, we’re a thing.’

There are a ton of emotions that start flowing through you. But we are trained to shut them down, play for the people and play for others. I’ll tell you what. I was super-nervous because you never know how a section or how a group is going to take you. ‘This is a new thing, we’re not quite sure where we fit in yet. We’re going to make a mark. We’re going to make some noise. If you like us, you like us. If you don’t, you don’t.’ We got such an awesome reception from everybody.

MDN: What goes into the process of picking the songs that are performed?

EM: There are five of us that help out with the drumline. I’m the head guy because I’m the only one who teaches in Minot Public Schools. We’ve got four others — Brooke Delzer, Hannah Gilseth, Keli Tanaka and Bryana Guzman. We go through and we do everything from finding (music) online to making our own. We’ve written a lot of our own stuff. The Minot Minotauros have asked us to play their opening theme.

When we started doing starting lineups for basketball, we wrote that cadence. There’s a lot of music that we come up with as instructors. If something doesn’t go well, we just cut it. We’re not going to force it. We go back to the drawing board. I’ve got a lot of background in finding that stuff because I had a drumline out in Stanley. It’s tough. There aren’t a lot of drumline resources out there. A lot of it is just writing it yourself or asking others.

MDN: Where did your passion for band stem from?

EM: I came from the International Music Camp up in Bottineau. They have a music camp that’s still going on. I’m from Stanley, and I wasn’t super-great at sports, but music just seemed to click. I love music. I got into the percussion world and started playing the drum set when I was a teenager.

At music camp, Joe Alme really inspired me to be a band teacher. He looks at me and he goes, ‘You’re going to be a band teacher.’ I go, ‘Oh, geez. Nobody has ever told me what I was going to be.’ He was right. He inspired me, took me under his wing and got me to where I needed to be now. He still is a friend and mentor. I just judged a competition with him down in Washburn.

MDN: What genres of music do you like to listen to?

EM: I’m all over the board. I listen to everything from hip-hop to classical. I love me some Zac Brown Band and Dave Matthews Band. I listen to concert bands in my car or tractor. The only thing I don’t like is the really, really old country music. The super-old, twangy, three-chord country music. I can’t do it. That’s really the only genre of music I don’t listen to.

MDN: What outdoor activities do you enjoy?

EM: I really like being with my family and doing stuff out on the farm. We have a farm out in Blaisdell. We go outside for walks and we ride equipment together. We’re always doing something.

My father-in-law says, ‘The rocking chair will kill you.’ He always says that and he goes 100 miles per hour. It’s great because it gets you out of the house, it gets you doing something. Working on equipment, changing oil, I’m always doing something. I’m not a huge hunter. I do hunt, but it’s not my passion. My passion is hanging with my family and doing stuff with my family.

MDN: You have one jam session with one musician, dead or alive. Who are you playing alongside?

EM: Carter Beauford, the drummer for Dave Matthews Band. He’s absolutely amazing. I could sit there and listen to him all day long. He does some great stuff. He’s still alive. They’re still touring, but I have not seen them live. I need to. They’re my favorite band of all time.

Jimmy Lafakis covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.

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