An intergalactic party is promised to those who attend a free show at the WestCo café this weekend. On Saturday night, Wesleyan’s own p-funk and soul band, Mad Wow Disease (Mad Wow for short), is playing its final show of the semester. Mad Wow is a thirteen-member band born of the minds and instruments of Gabe Gordon ’11 and Spencer Hattendorf ’12. The Argus sat down with Gordon, Hattendorf, and percussionist Donovan Arthen ’11 to talk about their upcoming show and the history of the band.
The Argus: How did Mad Wow Disease form?
Spencer Hattendorf: Well, my freshman year, I met Nate, the drummer. The first time we met we realized we were from similar towns. We had played with all the same musicians in high school; we had just never met each other. [So we] got together and said, “Let’s play some music.” And we’re both really into Soulive and soul music. We added some guitars, horns, and bass to get the right sound.
A: Gabe, how did you get involved?
Gabe Gordon: Louis [Russo ’11] came to me and was like, “These freshmen want to jam with us.” It was all-instrumental, but it sucked at first because we didn’t have a drummer. Then Nate came, and it was an instrumental funk band. This girl sang a couple of songs with us.
SH: Last year, Gabe and Louis both went abroad [in the fall] and when they came back we had this idea, let’s make the band enormous (laughs). We added vocalists, another guitar. We moved away from instrumental and towards vocals, and developed more of a modern, hip-hop sound. Last spring we were kind of starting a new band. The whole point of this new band was to play a show we had known about: Soulive. I know it was a huge inspiration for me, and others as well.
A: So where does the name come from?
GG: (Laughs) No one knows who came up with it!
A: A lot of Mad Wow members are members of Wordsmith. What’s it like playing with a lot of the same people in different bands?
GG: A lot of us have similar interests and there’s so much different music we want to play. In a lot of music scenes people will play and collaborate with a lot of the same people.
Donovan Arthen: You get into a groove with someone and you know what he or she is going to do already and that’s awesome.
A: Who writes the songs?
DA: Spencer and Gabe write for Mad Wow. They are the beating heart of Mad Wow.
A: What does the future look like for Mad Wow, with so many members (four) graduating in the spring?
DA: We haven’t talked about it yet. It’s not even second semester! We’re trying to put together a huge show for the end of the year. Maybe play at the tent party.
GG: A lot of us are trying to do similar things after college, so we’ll probably connect, be in similar circles.
A: So tell me about the show this weekend.
SH: The upcoming show…we’re calling it an intergalactic party because we really like p-funk and space. We think those are cool things.
GG: We generally play a lot more Motown now than funk, but this show is going to be good. It’s our last show for the semester, but we’re playing in Brooklyn on Dec. 18 with Buru style.
Mad Wow includes:
Garth Taylor ’12: Vocals
Emma Daniels ’13: Vocals
Claire Randall ’12: Vocals
Nate Mondschein ’12: Drums
Donovan Arthen ’11: Percussion
Louis Russo ’11: Bass
Jordan Kenna ’12: Guitar
Graham Richman ’11: Guitar
Gabe Gordon ’11: Organ/Piano
Spencer Hattendorf ’12: Tenor Sax
Owen Callahan ’12: Alto Sax
Myles Potters ’12: Trumpet
Jake Schofield ’12: Trumpet