The life behind college musicians

Openers for LANCO discuss modern day stardom

Maxwell Trotter (left) and Rob Malaski (right) will be playing at the homecoming tailgate on Sept. 24. Marissa Russell | Multimedia Editor

A natural setting for most people would be going to work a job for eight hours. For Rob Malaski and Maxwell Trotter it is standing out in the parking lot of a tailgate playing music.

Ferris music entertainment seniors Malaski and Trotter started playing music together long before coming to Ferris. Malaski decided to come to Ferris when he heard about the music entertainment program which then influenced Trotter to come too.  Trotter started out on the drums and Malaski on guitar and vocals but through the years Trotter started getting more diverse in playing instruments and he picked up singing along the way.

Since high school the two have played in various bands. It started with them playing with a friend of theirs where they called themselves The Flock. During their time at Ferris they had a band with an old roommate called Ives because they lived in a house on Ives St. When it comes to music the pair doesn’t care who they play with as long as they get to play.

Opening for LANCO was one of the biggest shows the two have ever. The country band came to Ferris back in March for the yearly spring concert hosted by Entertainment Unlimited. Family and friends came out to watch the duo perform.

“We were in the back for like a half hour before the show started…, and we weren’t nervous at all,” Trotter said. “And then it was 10 minutes before we went on, and we’re both sitting there not talking to each other, shaking. It was an experience. Normally when we play we don’t get nervous, it’s just what we do. But that was like one of the few times where we were like ‘Oh my goodness. This is weird’.”

Malaski explained that one of the reasons it was so weird for them was because it was a different setting than what they are used to. Normally people are walking around or sitting and having drinks. This was an actual show where people were sitting down and watching them because they were the entire entertainment.

The musicians get a lot of support, not only from friends and family but from their program also. Whenever the pair needs equipment for their shows or any other kind of help the music entertainment program is quick to jump in and help. This help has allowed these two to perfect the balancing act when it comes to school.

The biggest struggle they have had with school and music is finding time to be able to record music because it takes a lot more time and effort than playing shows. Being picky is another issue they face. Trotter said they can record something one day and love it but hate it the next day.

Trotter added that they don’t really rehearse much. If they don’t have a show coming up, the two would rather spend their time focusing on their solo stuff.

When it comes to musical inspirations, Malaski’s first choice would be his dad. Growing up Malaksi watched him play everything. It was his father who started Malaskis music journey. After that Malaski looks up to Eric Church, Bob Seger and Johnny Cash. 

Trotter had a different beginning in the music world.

“[Malaski] is one of my biggest influences just because like he taught me guitar and all that. He put me into like playing music and stuff like that,” Trotter said.

It’s tough to put Trotter and Malaski’s music into one genre. Their style depends on where they are playing and the type of music the crowd is into, they play anything from country to rock to today’s pop.

“Whenever anybody asks me that, I like to say I play anything between Johnny Cash and Beyoncé,” Trotter said.

Exposure, authenticity and originality are all issues Trotter said they face as college musicians. College is a transitional time in people’s lives, and it can be hard to zero in on what you want to do, how you want to sound and what ways you want to get out there. Even as a senior, Trotter is still working on trying to figure it out.

“It’s a lot of just trying to figure out what the next step is too,” Malaski said. “You get stuck doing certain things for a long time that you just, you want to expand, you want to get better and do bigger opportunities and stuff but you have to be very patient.”

With eight songs currently out, Malakski is a verified Spotify artist and has been publishing music on streaming services since 2020. His newest one, “Faded White Converse,” came out March 27 right before their opening show for LANCO.

Most people that listen to Malaski’s published work are the people closest to him. Very rarely will someone come up to him and say something about his music since not many people know he has music out.

Trotter is hoping to be able to release some of his own music soon.

Ideally, both of them want to perform as a career but at this time neither of them have any substantial plans after college other than to keep playing music on the side. Malaski will be graduating at the end of this semester and moving away so playing together will be tough. The pair has already started making plans for different events and places they will be able to play together after Malaski leaves.