Caught Up in a Death Spiral

In Managerial Accounting, a Death Spiral is when you cut costs or products to remain competitive, which triggers a chain reaction eventually leading to impending doom for your company.  While that concept does not sound like a lot of fun (and may be all too familiar in these recessionary times), Death Spiral, the Foster MBA band, is a lot more awesome than the “traditional” death spirals that Professor Burgstahler teaches us about.  Although the name may imply that we are a progressive metal band from outer Scandinavia, Death Spiral, which consists solely of UW MBA students, has long been one of the more unique aspects of Foster.

In a past life, I was a singer-songwriter in New York City, working in the music industry by day, and playing gigs in coffeehouses and bars at night.  When I decided to go to business school, I thought my music days were over.  However, one great thing about Foster is that creativity is actively encouraged, especially in creating a sense of community.  When I attended Welcome Weekend last May upon being admitted, the outgoing band leader Ryan  ended up inviting me on the Death Spiral stage at the TG (Foster’s monthly party with different themes ranging from rock concerts to Bollywood), where I joined them for a song in front of my future classmates.

By the time the winter quarter kicked into gear, I got in touch with Nick and Mike, the second years who currently play bass and drums in the band, and began attending the Sunday night rehearsals in a (somewhat sketchy) rehearsal space at the edge of town.   Armed with a mysterious set list, we went to work, beginning some of the most demanding yet rewarding rehearsals as a musician I have had throughout my music career.

Although I ended up having to bail on the first gig to help represent Foster in a case competition in California, I was able to play the big fundraiser at the Rendevous, a club in downtown Seattle that we packed over 100 people into on March 31st.  We were raising funds for Foster’s C4C club, in our year long quest for the Golden Briefcase, competing in charity hours and fundraising against a number of West Coast business schools.  From the moment we stepped on stage performing Radiohead’s National Anthem, to the second we closed the night with Foo Fighter’s Everlong, we rocked a crowd that topped out at around 120 people, playing an hour long set of rock, soul, pop, and dance songs that the entire crowd enjoyed.

We recently hit up Palo Alto for C4C Sports Weekend, where we closed out the competitions with a Battle of the Bands.  This time, the stage was a bit bigger, with over 600 people in the audience, and Foster’s superior musicianship over other business schools was once again on the line.  Of course, we blew away all competition, with our multiple lead singers, four part harmonies, brass and rhythm section, and nonstop party rock.  Next, we’ll be performing at the May Welcome Weekend TG, in what promises to be an epic journey of rock discovery.

In the next year, we are looking to transition to the new crop of musicians, looking to put together a solid lineup in the storied tradition of the band.  Luckily, we have a number of classmates who are ready to rock, including Abishek on drums and Ben on guitar, who both performed at the Rendevous show, and we are hoping to have some energetic incoming students who know how to work a crowd.  For Foster, being caught up in a Death Spiral is anything but a road to impending doom.

~ Guest Blogger Matt Jasper, Full-time Class of 2013