Anticus bands together with rock

Senior band hypes it up at March rally


Daksha Chandragiri

From left to right, seniors Patrick Lee, Sunny Jayaram, Angela Zhang, Saachi Sharma, and Aidan Buck jam out during a practice session in AP Gov teacher Brandon Andrews’ classroom.

Andrew Ma, Editor-in-Chief

“Don’t. Stop. Me. Now. Don’t stop me,” chorused Cal’s senior band Anticus at the rally on March 31 over soft piano chords. “Cause I’m having a good time, having a good time!”
Anticus’ infectiously enthusiastic rendition of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” certainly made the rally a good time for thousands of students.
The band of six seniors formed three weeks before the March rally with the help of AP Gov teacher Brandon Andrews.
Saachi Sharma sings the main vocals, Aidan Buck and Ronit Prakash play guitar, Sunny Jayaram mans the keyboard, Patrick Lee strums the bass, Angela Zhang drums the rhythm, and Kian Kasad mixes the sound.
Anticus plays a mix of pop and ’80s and ’90s rock like “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey, learning how to play their songs through a combination of YouTube tutorials, written scores, and musical talent. They hope to eventually compose original music to better connect with their audience.
“Music is a language, right? A universal language. We all definitely come together through music as a language,” Lee said. “And hopefully we can convey that to the whole school.”
Prakash and Zhang initially had the idea to start a band during first semester but struggled with logistics. It was Andrews who watered the idea and helped it come to fruition.
Andrews is part of the teacher band Partial Credit and has musical instruments and equipment decorating his classroom. When Jayaram showed Andrews a clip of himself playing a self-arranged version of the Interstellar movie theme on his website, Andrews saw the potential makings of a band.
“I saw [Jayaram] shred it. I was like that’s it, forget it. We got to start a band,” Andrews said. “And so I took Sunny, I took Ronit and then we just started talking with people and bringing them in.”
Prakash saw the missing pieces the band needed and asked friends if they could fill them. In early March, he recruited Buck as lead guitarist, Sharma as lead vocalist and Lee as bassist.
“I stopped by one day and just checked [the band] out, and the next day, brought my guitar, and we just started jamming,” said Buck, who played guitar as a hobby before and heard Anticus needed a lead guitarist.
Sharma’s powerful vocals and experience singing and winning awards for musical theater since second grade lent the band its voice. Prakash and Jayaram provide back-up vocals.
On the other hand, Lee only played keys initially but decided to learn bass less than a month before performing at the rally since Anticus needed a bassist.
“I was like, you know, it’s second semester senior year, you might as well,” Lee said. “I always love trying new things.”
Kasad joined during one of the band’s practices when he noticed Andrews’ mixer. Kasad has experience tinkering with radios, using them when backpacking in remote places and even once dropping in on a conversation from the ISS. His experience helped him learn how to use the mixer.
Andrews provided Anticus with equipment to run practices, arranged for them to perform after Partial Credit at the rally, and even had the idea to design tickets for the band’s performances. He also helped choose their name, Anticus, which means seniors in Latin.
“Inside our AP Gov classrooms, he’s our AP Gov teacher, but outside of that he’s like our music manager,” Lee said. “He always talks about music with us.”
Anticus practices two or three times a week during lunch in Andrews’ room, which they use as a studio with high quality speakers and a multi-channel mixer. They often spontaneously pick days to meet up and play. They choose songs to play that they all are familiar with that complement the instruments they have.
“I think it’s fun just to make music in general. And I like doing that with others,” Buck said. “I think it’s fun when everybody’s seeing what each other can do and how they can benefit from each other’s musical prowess.”
Many of Anticus’ members say that playing music together with other people is a different experience than playing solo.
“The more you practice together, you kind of get closer as well,” Zhang said. “Music kind of brings you all together.”
So far, the band has only had a test concert with friends in Andrews’ classroom on March 27 outside of the rally. Andrews served as a bouncer and Sharma entertained the small crowd as students trickled in.
They started the concert with “Don’t Stop Me Now” and played “Don’t Stop Believin” and “This Love.”
“They’re all super talented separately, but together they are even better,” senior Tiare Vasconcellos, who attended the concert, said.
Anticus hopes to perform more in the future and possibly after the members graduate, with potential gigs at City Center Bishop Ranch or at restaurants.
“We don’t think of [performing] as a chore,” Jayaram said. “It’s just really fun getting together and playing in a band.”
Andrews hopes the band can inspire future generations of bands at Cal to come together and dreams to eventually be able to fill a venue of student performances. He says that the garage band experience is more important than ever after the pandemic.
“We’re in a generation and a time period where the garage band is close to dead. I want to bring it back,” Andrews said. “Too many people, because of the technology we have today, can just loop themselves, and they’re losing the experience and the camaraderie of playing music together.”