School of rock: Band balances academics, shows


Hattiesburg’s underground punk nation swells and bursts when its citizens commune for its regular three- or four-hour grooving spree. A great chunk of this grooving happens because of the local powerhouse bands who organize these ordeals themselves.

However, things are not always about cutting loose. Enter Dumspell, whose members contribute to these well-put- together blowouts but still manage to go to college.

“The hardest part is always balance,” said Mary Spooner, Dumspell vocalist and senior English major. “I’m in a band, graduating early, completing an honors thesis and trying to stay involved on campus. Shows are planned weeks in advance. I don’t always know yet what assignments or engagements I have that week or day, but I usually just say, ‘Yeah, what the hell.’” Spooner said making the time for going to shows and playing out is “always worth it.”

“Playing shows with Dumspell is cathartic,” Spooner said. “I get to yell, and be sassy and say whatever I want. Plus, I get to do it with some of my best friends.”

Dumspell guitarist Olesya Ufimtseva earned her psychology degree in December. As such, she achieved the balance between going to college and playing shows.

“It can be tricky to find times when all of us can practice,” Ufimtseva said. “My schoolwork always used to be put on the back burner, so I’d have more time to practice [and] play shows. I still graduated though, so it’s totally doable.”

Ufimtseva said the solution to achieving this balance is to “never stop rocking.”

“Stay in school and get a degree, though,” Ufimtseva said. “I’m going to hang mine in the bathroom.”

Dumspell guitarist and senior Cody Bass is working toward his graphic design degree. Bass said his biggest challenge is managing his time.

“It’s hard to stay on top of things sometimes when you’ve constantly got homework, band practice, tests, shows and more to worry about,” Bass said. “It gets stressful, but I’m used to it and wouldn’t have it any other way. Being busy keeps me feeling refreshed and creative. I think if I weren’t at least a little stressed all the time, I would lose my mind because I’d be too bored.”

Bass said his secret to staying afloat is keeping track of his school and band schedules by writing everything down.

“[Spooner] has really made me realize how helpful that is, because she’s always writing stuff down in her planner,” Bass said. “I used to not be very organized, but  I can’t afford to not be anymore with everything I have going on.”

According to Dumspell members, playing and studying is feasible as long as there is some degree of time management.

Dumspell performs regularly at the Porn Hall. To learn more about this band and listen to their music, visit their Bandcamp profile. Their latest release is a self-titled demo.