UNB arts dean George MacLean’s love of music has reached a whole new level with his band, Van Lantz.
The band performed for a crowd of UNB students at a welcome back concert Sept. 17 at Memorial Hall.
“I discovered a different type of nervousness that night,” said MacLean, who serves as the band’s lead guitarist. “I hadn’t played in front of students before, or my university colleagues.”
MacLean said the band bears the name of Van Lantz, UNB’s dean of forestry and environmental management. He said Lantz, who also teaches economics, is a solid bass player who joined the band when it started in March 2015.
“He later left the group, but we named it in his honour because he’s such a great guy and also because he has undeniably the most rock and roll name ever,” said MacLean.
According to MacLean, the band is part rock and roll and part mythology.
He said that, when the band was formed, members found ways to distinguish themselves from others and decided to tell a story while they were at it.
“The narrative is that the band originated in Kentucky in 1901 as a bluegrass outfit, morphed into a hot five/seven jazz band, went to war, became a do-wop group in the 1950s, later a psychedelic acid rock band that spent most of the 1960s in India, then prog-rock in the 1970s, an ‘80s hair metal band, then grunge and hip hop,” said MacLean.
MacLean said the way the story goes, no one has heard of Van Lantz or its music because of successive lawsuits that have limited album sales.
“All your favourite songs by other bands are actually cover versions originally written by Van Lantz,” he said. “Now we’ve settled in Fredericton and call ourselves ‘Fredericton’s Rock Band’ because, well, no one else does. We’ve also started to tell our tale on our website and on social media.”
As for MacLean, he hails from Sussex, grew up in Nova Scotia, and has family on Prince Edward Island. Before coming to UNB, he served as associate dean of graduate studies and taught political science at the University of Manitoba.
“I’ve played in bands since grade school,” said MacLean. “Everyone has a hobby, and mine is playing in a band for fun.”
For MacLean, that has always been the case.
“It allows me to pretend I’m perpetually 18 years old,” he said.
MacLean also had a band when he lived in Winnipeg, and he said they played regularly.
“The key is to find the right people–musical ability is a secondary requirement,” he said. “We were fortunate to find each other, four guys from different walks of life who happen to live in the same community and enjoy the same music.”
When asked about the band already having a solid reputation, MacLean said audiences get what they pay for, but Van Lantz doesn’t charge admission for live performances.
“People see we’re having fun, and that’s infectious.”