Drummer Matt Mirsch, senior music education major, and bassist Scott Stormann, who is coming back to Washburn after taking a few years off to work, created the popular Topeka-based funk band while earning their diplomas at Seaman High School in 2006. Several years and a few new band mates later, the band has become a local favorite thanks to various gigs they've done in the area, including the Jayhawk Theatre Revival in 2009.
However, when the pair of North Topekan rockers aren't practicing for an upcoming gig or studying, they spend a good chunk of time at various fishing spots, mainly the Shawnee State Lake just north of Topeka.
"Scott has an addiction," said Mirsch. "I fish because I like to eat, Scott fishes because he's addicted to the adrenaline rush of the catch and he should probably see someone about that. That's all I have to say about that."
The two began fishing together in high school, but said they just recently started fishing frequently again this summer.
"We used to fish every now and again, because Matt's dad was a big fisherman and my dad was," said Stormann. "We've been fishing since we were little, but this summer we really started fishing a lot, like hardcore. I've been going out every weekend and Matt comes along probably once every other weekend with me and we've been going catfishing and bass fishing."
The other members of the band—lead singer Dave Hess, guitarist Michael Spangler and saxophonist T.C. Gomez—are all from Washburn. Hess recently graduated with a degree in vocal performance, while Spangler is working toward a business degree and Gomez is working toward a music education degree. Stormann said they've never managed to get the whole band together for a fishing trip, joking that it was mostly because Gomez never had enough money for a fishing license.
"Dave came out once... he's a better singer than a fisherman," said Mirsch.
"I had a good time fishing out at this place called Prairie Lake up in Holton," said Stormann. "We went up there fishing one night and it was a full moon. We didn't catch anything big but we were catching them every time our bait would touch the water."
Not all memories from the summer were particularly pleasant for Mirsch, however. During their second fishing trip of the summer, Mirsch caught himself with a treble hook from a lure that required medical attention.
"Well, I remember it like it was yesterday," recalled Mirsch. "It was a beautiful day out, ya know, with all the neat stuff in nature... I went for a really good, long cast, so I put some oomph behind it. Next thing I know my pole fell apart where it attaches it detaches and my line was a bit funky and I thought the pole just hit me in the shoulder blade. So I started trying to put the pole back together and I realized the lure got stuck in my shirt. Then I was like this is really stuck in my shirt, it's really in there deep. Then I pulled it a little bit and said ‘I think I got myself a little bit... I think it's in there pretty deep.'
"We tried to get it out and were unsuccessful and I made a call to Prompt Care and I was the highlight of the day in the doctor's office and they took care of me very kindly at Sunflower Prompt."
Stormann said that after the quick hospital trip, they went right back out and continued fishing, but with little luck.
"I got like three in a row right before he hooked himself and then when we went back out, we didn't catch shit," said Stormann.
Mirsch wasn't the only one with a hook story, however.
"I would like to say Scott had an incident as a young child, if we're going to go into embarrassing stories of treble hooks," said Mirsch. "Scott was a wee lad with his father, I believe it was his first time fishing. He caught a decent sized bass or something and I guess he went to take the hook out and he was holding the fish by the mouth. It flopped around and he let it go and the fish and the lure went up in the air and the lure caught him right in his thumb and then the whole fish was hanging from his thumb ... I think it was a traumatic incident for him."
With summer winding down, they duo now have less time to devote to fishing. The band's next gig is Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. at the Blackbird Espresso Bar & Bistro as part of Tattoo-ween, a Halloween costume competition hosted by Looking Glass Tattoo & Gallery.