The BNOCs wielding their guitarsAlex Brian with permission for Varsity

Freshers’ WhatsApp groups can be scary places. With one click, you find yourself facing a 100-strong audience of people you’ve never met, a strange spreadsheet designed to help you make friends, and a torrent of intimidating conversations about phytoplankton and the Spanish Civil War. It’s no wonder then that most people remain silent observers, watching as the few confident enough to speak up talk amongst themselves.

Yet, it was in this surreal environment that my band, the BNOCs, was formed. I sent out a request, thinking nothing would come of it. Soon, however, we had acquired a guitarist, a bassist, and even a keyboardist, but no singer. “Sing? All the time. Sing well? No,” was the best response I received from our newly formed group chat, “Band??”.

“Sing? All the time. Sing well? No”

Before long, however, we had a singer, and not just a singer, but a drummer too. Suddenly, I was thinking maybe, this could work. Flash forward a few weeks and I’m lugging two guitars and a keyboard up the stairs into my new room at Sidney. Meanwhile, I’m praying I haven’t already provoked the wrath of my flatmates, who I feared were anticipating late-night jam sessions and rude wake-up calls.

As a band, we had already bonded over our love of indie music and our passion (or hatred in some cases) for musicals. We were anxious to meet. Yet, prep week went by, then freshers’ week, and we still hadn’t organised a practice. Perhaps Cambridge’s chaotic lifestyle simply didn’t suit being in a band…

Thankfully, our bassist and I shared the same accommodation block, and, luckily, we both knew Mr. Brightside. Sure, we faced the problem of plugging two guitars into one amp without blowing up the entire building, and, yes, there was the issue of our music having different bar numbers but, finally, we seemed to be getting somewhere.

“Just venturing into the basement where the practice room is hidden was enough to produce a sense of dread”

It was time to invent a name, in my experience the hardest part of forming a band. My music teacher, for instance, threatened to name our band “Chunder Wonder” if we hadn’t devised a better name by the end of that day. This time, luckily, the work was done for us. A discussion as to who were the BNOCs at our college led a friend to suggest we use the term to name our band.

Perfect. Now, all we had to do was practice. Second years’ descriptions of the practice room gave me trepidation. We had heard tale of the “tinny-sounding drum kit” and “dilapidated guitar.” Indeed, just venturing into the basement where the practice room is hidden was enough to produce a sense of dread.

When we arrived, however, a student was practising. My gut reaction, of course, was to close the door and run. Yet, once I reopened the door, I saw the room was just what we needed: big enough for us all and with a grungy feel. Luckily, the student we had barged in on did not seem to mind, and instead gave us a tour of the facilities.’


Mountain View

Boathouse Bops: what do rowers listen to?

Our next attempt to use the practice room went equally pear-shaped. Having still not mastered the booking system, we ended up hauling all our gear to plodge, only to be sent back without keys in our hands. Nevertheless, we rehearsed in my room, and just one practice later, we faced the daunting task of performing in our friend’s talent show - an incredible, if terrifying, night, featuring Jewish folk music, modern dancing, slapstick comedy and us, the BNOCs, in front of an amazing crowd.

Forming the band was not a mistake. Had we not met on WhatsApp, we probably wouldn’t have met at all. After all, we’re so different. Some of us come from as far as France, others from as close as London. Our tastes range from Tame Impala and Wolf Alice to funk and soul, our personalities from introvert to extrovert. Despite this, WhatsApp enabled us to bridge these differences, and hopefully create something special.