School of Schlock

Rock legends in the making they may be, but for now the NYU Clive Davis alums may have to stick to YouTube for exposure

"I can't believe I went to college for this," he adds. "I'm still grinning like an idiot."


While Schecter dreams of selling out stadiums, other students have already had real-world success. Carter Matschullat, tall and open-faced with shaggy reddish hair, runs an indie-rock label called Dovecote Records, and can afford to have an office/recording studio on St. Marks Place because one of his bands, Aberdeen City, signed to Columbia last year. (He's also in a hardcore band, Bed of Arms, with other students from the department.)

Matschullat had finished his freshman year at Duke, and then repeated his freshman year at the Clive Davis program because he wanted to attend so badly after reading the program's press release. A major perk for him has been taking classes with Nick Sansano, who recorded and co-produced Sonic Youth's Goo and Daydream Nation. "When I heard he was teaching here, I almost couldn't speak, I was so happy," Matschullat gushes.

But Matschullat isn't without complaints. He thinks the program is too focused on success at major labels. In a music business class taught by Lauren Davis, Clive's daughter, he says she complained that the budget he'd listed in an assignment was too low. But the numbers he was using were from an actual, working marketing plan for an indie rock band. "It's all taught from the super mega major label standpoint, when that's all like, dying," he says.

The world is clearly not enough for brand new NYU grad Tom Schecter.
photo: Alana Cundy
The world is clearly not enough for brand new NYU grad Tom Schecter.

All of the students seem to admire Bo Pericic, because the DJ regularly jets off to parties in places like China and Ecuador as a part of the duo Filo and Peri, recently ranked number 77 in the world by DJ magazine. Pericic says attending the NYU program has helped him meet people he might not otherwise associate with, like Eric Lumiere, who writes sentimental love songs on his acoustic guitar. Pericic remixed Lumiere's song "Anthem," sold it to the world's number one DJ, Paul Van Dyk, and it's being played at dance clubs around the world.

Two years ago, engineering student Evan Moore started his own production company, Thunder, Lightning & Lightning. A rock drummer, Moore is one of two senior class representatives; the other is Jennifer Newman, a singer-songwriter who is a second cousin of Randy Newman. Their positions were created after complaints from students piled up in the program's first two years. But Moore says the bugs have mostly been worked out. And he says he's learned much more outside of school than from his classes. "One of the big realizations I've had . . . is that, well, I think so many of us going into this program thought that—it sounds so silly—but that it would bring them fame and fortune. You know what I mean? Like this is the coolest program ever. Like it's going to teach me everything I need to know to be successful in life. And it's just not true about any college program. It's still just school. It's not actually a part of the music industry."

Moore partly blames the school for giving students the wrong impression: "Our freshman year, all our events were catered. We were treated like rock stars, and it really got it into everyone's mind that they were rock stars. Like if we had any kind of meeting with the class—I mean regular school stuff—it was catered. They all just seemed so pleased with all of us. It was all about how all the students were so amazing and accomplished and bright. And some people ate that up."

One recent evening, Moore and Newman met up in the school's studio to mix the album she was preparing for graduation. Newman, who was wearing preppy pearl earrings with her Tool concert T-shirt and jeans, was paying several thousand dollars extra to get her album just right, and she had hired Moore to help her. Conversation ranged from her concept for her album's cover ("quirky sexy") to how cool their adjunct instructor Tony Maserati is because he's worked with the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé, to the one class they take together with the other seniors, the Capstone Colloquium.

Students prepare a final project for the culminating event that includes an artist's statement and a 25-page business plan mapping out their careers for the next 10 years. Moore had missed a class that called for students to make a short speech about what had inspired them to make music.

He wasn't sorry that he'd been absent that day. "I'm not going to say what inspired me to do music in my senior thesis," Moore said, disgusted.

"I think it would be good for you," Newman replied.

"It's too show-and-tell-y to say what I learned in college."

"We all hugged," Newman said, clearly still glowing from the warm feeling it gave her.

Moore burst into laughter.

"It kind of felt like therapy. It was like we finished an AA meeting. It made me realize how far we've come."

Moore laughed even harder.

"You're so sarcastic—that's why it's good you weren't there."

"Nobody I know was there," Moore countered, referring to Matschullat and the engineering clique.

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