Huskies Pep Band
This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Huskies Pep Band is a scramble band from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan. They bill themselves as "Living Proof of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, The Cream of the Keweenaw, The Pride of Pastyland, The Second Best Feeling in the World." They are known for their often irreverent cheers and taunts as well as their unique uniforms consisting of black-and-gold striped bib overalls (known simply as "Stripes") and creative hats unique to each band member. The Huskies Pep Band performs at all home football, basketball, volleyball, and ice hockey games, as well as parades and other local events.
The band is often recognized as one of the best bands in NCAA Division 1 hockey because of their sheer power and energy, and their firm roots in tradition. Ironically, Michigan Technological University does not offer a degree in music. They have been featured in Inside College Hockey and are periodically mentioned when sportscasters discuss the tradition of the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
The band was formed in the fall of 1928 as the Michigan Tech ROTC Band, under the baton of E. E. Melville. Their purpose was twofold: as an official part of the Michigan College of Mining and Technology's ROTC organization, they provided music for all military functions. They also functioned as a circus style band, playing at various athletic and community events. In later years, they would drop the ROTC affiliation, and simply became the Michigan Tech Band, then the Michigan Tech Pep Band. In 1957, under the direction of B. Franz Schubert, the pep band officially became a university course. The Huskies Pep Band is currently under the direction of Michael Christianson, and now maintains a membership of close to 300.
The Pep Band is currently banned from the Northern Michigan University football dome and has been since the mid 80's. The band was formally requested by NMU's athletic director (in writing) never to appear in their stadium as an opposing band ever again, because they took away the home field advantage. In 2008, the band attempted to circumvent this by crashing the yearly NMU-MTU football game without instruments; without instruments, they are not an opposing band, they are just excited fans. The band was refused seats and were forced to set up camp in the end zone, where they received more television airtime than the NMU band.
Chief among the band's traditional is the entry into the performance area. They are known for a distinctive drum cadence and playing Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the main theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, as a warm-up before beginning the pre-game or other songs.
The band's certain trademarks consist of excessive taunting of the opposing team (especially the goalie at hockey games or the free-throw shooter at basketball games). Some of the band's cheers and taunts have been blacklisted or banned due to their level of offensiveness.
They are known for performing traditional songs such as "In Heaven There Is No Beer" and "The Engineers" along with a variety of selections in popular music. Some cheers and songs have been around since the 1930s and '40s, such as the "Blue Skirt Waltz" in which the pep band (along with the audience) would link arms and sway back and forth. This tradition began during Winter Carnival in 1948 after Frankie Yankovic had recently performed there and has been since dubbed "The Copper Country Anthem". In addition to playing traditional songs, the pep band's repertoire has gone to more than 100 songs, and with the exception of the Michigan Tech fight song, it is rare to hear a song played more than once in a weekend. The band also plays songs from the classic rock, ska, pop genres and even some orchestra and symphonic pieces such as Phantom of the Opera and Carmina Burana. The band is also known locally for the tradition of 'sunshining,' which involves surrounding a person who has done a worthy thing the eyes of the band (it must be noted that this does not necessarily mean good), and singing "You are my sunshine," often off-key and loudly. Similarly, the band often plays "Hey Baby" (originally by Bruce Channel), and sings the verse to by-standers, fans, ballboys, players and the occasional opposing player or fan.
The band is also known for their creative visual performances at halftime shows (e.g. the formation of a sperm fertilizing an egg). During Homecoming weekend, the entire band was known to dress up as hobos for Michigan's Tech (now discontinued) Homecoming Parade.
Some of the antics of the band are considered Monty Python-esque, often performing songs from the sketches themselves and shouting the phrase "Run away!" when they exit from the performance. The band also incorporates other non-traditional ensemble instruments, including electric bass guitar, bagpipes, kazoos, cowbells, accordions, an electric viola, and currently a large inflatable lobster.
The history of the stripes themselves is almost as scrambled as the band itself. From the beginning of the band, they have been known for their unique and entertaining uniforms. One of the original ideas was for a dark wind breaker and a railroad engineer’s cap. Thankfully, from a historical standpoint, then director Don Keranen decided to go with multi-colored striped bib overalls. Ten years later, when director Mike Griffith attempted to reorder, the band encountered a problem. The overalls were only offered in gold/black and red/white. To remedy the situation, the trombone section was put into red and white, gold and black were given to the new members, and the returnees reused the multi-colored pairs as long as they could make them last.
The official switch to gold and black stripes came in 1996 when director Jeff Bell-Hanson placed an order through a company called Lil’ Fan. The company actually made overalls for toddlers, which were the perfect material for the larger copies. The final order total came to about $12,000. The Michigan Tech Presidents club footed most of the bill, which was repaid through the sale of the older stripes.
Among the rich traditions of the Huskies Pep Band is the unorthodox naming of the sections and various competitions between members of them. Many of the sections have their own jerseys, detailing the instrument and name, often with an innuendo or other inappropriate slogans and sayings. As of 2017, the sections are:
- Clarinets of Honor
- Alto Sax Section (A.S.S.)
- Ten-or-so (tenor saxophones)
- F'n Horns (french horns)
- BA!s, who are mainly tubas (BA!s), but with baritone saxophones (BA!ritone saxes), electric bass (electric BA!ss), electric viola (electric violBA!), accordions (BA!ccordion), guitars (soprano electric BA!ss), a mandolin (BA!dolin), and even an inflatable lobster at one point.
- Concussion (percussion)
Section competitions include a homecoming chili cook-off, many different Broomball rivalries, a fashion show added in 2014, and a Pep Band "Olympics" added in 2016.
WCHA Final Five
In 2006, 2007, 2008, and again in 2009, the Huskies Pep Band was chosen to be the Official Band of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five tournament in St. Paul, Minnesota. Even after Michigan Tech defeated Colorado College in the first round of the WCHA playoffs in 2007, the Huskies Pep Band was still the Official Host Band. While attending the 2006 tournament the band also made a surprise appearance in the 40th Annual Saint Paul Saint Patrick's Day Parade in Downtown Saint Paul, and was invited to participate again in 2007. In 2015, the Huskies once again made it to the Final Five, and the Pep Band was invited to play at the Mall of America to kick off the tournament.
Safety is always number six.
- The Daily Mining Gazette, November 19, 1992, p1B.:2
- Department of Fine Arts. "[Huskies Pep Band Changes Its Stripes, Thanks President's Club http://dawgs.students.mtu.edu/?p=852]". Tech topics (Houghton) 16 Feb. 1996:1
- Huskies Pep Band http://dawgs.students.mtu.edu/. Retrieved 9 December 2015. Missing or empty