Nov 19, 2009, 12:10 PM EDT
Their antics are the stuff of legend: This is the marching band, after all, that was banned from entering the state of Oregon for 11 years following their parody of the failing logging industry at an Oregon Ducks game. And they also once entertained the crowd at halftime of a game against Notre Dame with their drum major dressed as a nun, conducting the band with a wooden cross. Heh.
And on Saturday the Stanford Band was at it again, braving a hostile crowd at USC with a tribute to one of the Trojans’ notable alums, Joe Francis of Girls Gone Wild video fame (pictured, with the ubiquitous Tila Tequila). Excerpt:
“That said, USC can’t take all the credit for the successes of its students. After all, it takes a special kind of man to be wanted for sexual harassment, drug trafficking, tax evasion, prostitution, child abuse and disruptive flatulence, but that’s just the kind of captain of industry that Joe Francis is.”
USC fans were not amused. I sat down with one Stanford Band member, Peter “Shotgun” McDonald, a junior, to discuss Saturday’s events. Included is a tale of USC retribution, and a shocking assault on the Stanford Tree.
Video following the jump.
“First of all, it’s an amazing feeling to be booed by 90,000 people,” said McDonald, who plays the tuba in addition to being the band’s media relations director. “It was funny, because at first they were actually cheering when they heard Joe Francis’ name. But then when we got into the material, they started to boo. And it got louder.”
Much hilarity at one point in the video below, when you can hear a USC student tell his friends, “We should rush the field and kick some a**. It would be totally worth it.”
Yeah dude, it totally would. For sure.
“There was a heavy security presence (at the LA Coliseum), so we weren’t really worried about getting hurt,” McDonald said. “But when we were coming off the field, one guy did throw a plate of nachos into my tuba. So yeah, the fans were being their normal USC selves.”
McDonald says that the band sits down once a week and has a brainstorming session to decide on the topic for that week’s halftime show. A team of designated writers then works up an outline, and hammers out a script. The script must then pass inspection from review committees from both the athletic department and the Student Life association.
“It’s not like 30 years ago, when nobody saw it, and they could do anything they wanted,” McDonald said. “Times have changed.”
That would surprise many who remember when, in 1994, the Band was disciplined after nineteen members left a field rehearsal in Los Angeles to play outside the L.A. County Courthouse during jury selection for the O. J. Simpson trial. One of the band’s songs was an arrangement of The Zombies’ She’s Not There. Defense lawyer Robert Shapiro described the incident to the media as “a new low in tasteless behavior,” which the band currently uses as their official motto.
Later that season during halftime of the USC game, band members drove a white Ford Bronco with bloody handprints around the Stanford stadium track.
McDonald says that they have something special planned for Notre Dame this season, but can’t reveal it. Whatever it is, they will have a hard time producing more controversy than in 1997′s show, when the band mocked the Irish Potato Famine. They also questioned the Notre Dame mascot in the program entitled, The Irish: Why Must They Fight?
The centerpiece of the Stanford Band is their mascot, the Stanford Tree, which has been a major source of controversy unto itself. Many have donned the Tree costume over the years, none more notoriously than Erin Lashnits, an undergraduate biology student who, in 2007, was fired as Tree mascot following her drunken antics during a Cal basketball game.
But this past September saw a role reversal of sorts, as three Cal students were arrested on charges of battery for stealing leaves off the current Stanford Tree, Jonathan Strange, during a volleyball game in Berkeley.
“Band members chased them and got the leaves back,” McDonald said. “The police actually charged them with battery, but eventually let them go. The Tree has some revenge planned for the Big Game (this Saturday), although who knows what it is.”
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