The average college student has a lot of responsibilities: they probably work a part-time job or two, they are probably involved in several extracurricular organizations and they probably are worried about life after college, all while going to school full time. Imagine having to add preparing for a band tour to that list.
For the members of Earnest Ernest, a local folk rock band, this is a reality as they prepare for their first “mini-tour” in winter 2013, which will involve the band touring around Tennessee and maybe a few border states, followed by a larger tour in summer 2014 in which they will tour along the East Coast.
Earnest Ernest consists of three full-time students. Branon Jaggers, the front man and guitarist, is a junior broadcast communications major. Lawton Vierkant, the bassist and back up vocalist, is a sophomore business management major. And Justin Waack, the drummer, is a freshmen business management major.
Jaggers began writing and playing music solo in 2008, but last October he decided to make the effort to start a band.
The name Earnest Ernest came to Jaggers because “The Importance of Being Earnest” is his favorite play and his favorite author is Ernest Hemingway. Jaggers was inspired by the play on words and Waack and Vierkant both liked the name.
Song writing for Earnest Ernest begins with Jaggers writing the general structure of the songs and then he brings it to Waack and Vierkant for reworking. “[Jaggers] is the bones and we are the meat,” Waack said.
Jaggers said they have a lot of musical inspiration but he describes the band as Mumford and Sons meets The Black Keys. “Folk rock is what we go for, but we like everything,” he said.
The folk part of the music came from the majority of Jaggers’s solo work having a folk sound, but it wasn’t until he began playing with a band that the rock sound came in. “Being with a band makes you a better musician,” he said.
Waack said the combination of folk and rock is very versatile. “It helps for playing at different places. We can play at a house show and then go play in Nashville, if we want to, with the country artists,” he said.
All the members of Earnest Ernest agree the hardest part of writing folk rock music is avoiding repetition. Jaggers explained they struggle with repetition most in the breakdowns of their songs and that folk music has a very typical drumbeat that he said Waack has done a good job at working against. Vierkant said, “You have to think of ways to vary it up and still be a good song that is your band’s style.”
The members of Earnest Ernest expressed some difficulty in balancing school, jobs and the band. “There have been plenty of weekends where there have been shows and then Sunday night rolls around and you forgot about all the homework and all the tests you have Monday morning,” Vierkant said. He said it is a manageable task as long as priorities are kept straight.
Waack said he plans on using his business management degree to help with his career and managing his music. “I have got the music part down, but if I could add business [that would help].” Vierkant said he has the same idea as Waack, when it comes to his degree path because being a signed band is a business. Jaggers said he wants to use his communications degree to learn about music in copyright laws and audio production.
Funding for their first mini-tour, their bigger tour, T-shirts, recordings, digital pressing, physical pressing and some equipment is coming from a co-worker of Jaggers’ at Old Chicago. Jaggers said he was raising money, when the co-worker sat him down and offered to fund the band’s expenses because she wanted to help Earnest Ernest achieve their dreams. Jaggers said she wanted to do this because she had known Jaggers for a while and found him to be a genuine person. All the members explained this was a once in a life time opportunity.
“Playing with these guys has just made me get up there and for the very first time, I have no reason to worry that what we are doing as a group is something that people can appreciate,” Jaggers said. He said he hopes that even if Earnest Ernest is not their genre of music, people can see that, as a band, they are enjoying themselves and loving what they are doing.