Photo By Hunter Franklin ’19 | Jack MacNeil ’19 plays the guitar in front of the Brophy Tower during break.
By Camden Andl ’19
Disclaimer: Although The Roundup staff member Chris Stanek ’19 is a part of ‘The Stickmen’ and is mentioned in a quote used in this article, he had no part in the writing or editing of this article.
While his abilities may not be well-known around campus, Jack Macneil ’19 has recently begun to bring his guitar talents to the stage.
Macneil said one of his early goals was to start a band while at Brophy, but he didn’t do so until very recently.
“All of sophomore year, I had in the back of my head ‘I need to start a band’ and ‘this needs to happen soon,’ because then high school’s over and I’ll regret it,” Macneil said. “And then one day, Chris Stanek [’19] came to me out of the blue and was like ‘hey, I’m in choir, I think I have a pretty decent singing voice and I heard you play guitar, would you want to start a band?’ And that was that.”
Kyle Peeples ’19 plays drums with Macneil in their band, ‘The Stickmen.’
“Playing with Jack is really fun,” Peeples said. “He definitely knows what he’s doing—he knows when to stick to his part and when to add fancy, extra things to make the music more interesting—he’s a very talented musician.”
‘The Stickmen’ started to have jam sessions towards the end of their sophomore year, but their first real performance was at the Fine Arts Extravaganza.
“I think FAE really worked out,” Macneil said. “I think we’ve got good chemistry and we’re going to keep going from here.”
To integrate his passion into his school day, Macneil took Mr. Austin Pidgeon ’08’s guitar class his sophomore year.
“Jack has a good technical understanding of how to play, but, more than that, I think he has a good ear for music—he can listen to music and be able to play with it,” Mr. Pidgeon said. “I think about his final project for my class—he covered the theme song for ‘Parks and Recreation’—and I still use his video as a model for the final to this day because I thought it was so well done.”
Macneil first got his start at playing guitar not by taking classes, but by watching YouTube tutorials.
Macneil said that one of the biggest reasons he picked up guitar was because of his jealousy of his sister’s musical abilities.
“When I heard that my older sister, Shannon, was starting to play at school and singing, I said to myself ‘I need to be better at that than she is,’” Macneil said. “So I started playing and learning, and eventually it became something I did every day.”
Using YouTube, Macneil was also able to learn chords and tabs by watching live performances—a musical ability he accredits to his mother, a piano player.
However, despite his aptitude for music, Macneil did not do much to pursue his ability in middle school.
“In the beginning, I obviously wasn’t very good,” Macneil said. “I knew I had a knack for it but I wasn’t going to go on stage and perform stuff.”
Macneil joined his school band to play the clarinet, but hated it, and later picked up the bass guitar, which was hard for him to understand.
“Trying to play the notes on the bass guitar, and reading it—I just couldn’t do it,” Macneil said. “There’s some kind of disconnect between me and reading notes and then actually playing them. I honestly feel like it takes away from the experience—you just have to feel it out.
Macneil suggests that any aspiring guitarists first get a feel for the instrument by themselves and not to worry about notes or the technical aspects of playing.
“Unless you’re really, really good and have a passion for reading music, don’t put your focus on that,” Macneil said. “But also, just keep going—your fingers are going to hurt, some things aren’t going to make any sense, but keep going. That’s how you get good at something.”
Both Macneil and Peeples said they are going to keep playing in ‘The Stickmen,’ with Peeples mentioning participating in Brophy’s Battle of the Bands as well as a possible coffee house gig in the near future.