Student begins “Groovy Fridays” for Tech musicians

Photo by Ally Stone

Strumming his guitar without a care in the world, Archie O’Neal sets out to entertain passersby through what he calls “Groovy Fridays.” O’Neal is the Equipment Manager for Under the Couch and an all-around music enthusiast.

Technique: What is your year and major?

O’Neal: I’m in the midst of my third year at Tech, and I’m currently double majoring in Electrical Engineering and Quilting.

Technique: What do you hope to do with your major in the future?

O’Neal: I’m not sure exactly —I’m in the Audio Engineering EE lab elective right now building phase pedals and voice scramblers, so that’s pretty sweet.  I do hope to someday weave my diplomas into a quilt.  That would really make the whole thing come full circle.

Technique: You play your guitar on Skiles on Fridays—what made you decide to do that?

O’Neal: I just love playing the guitar!  There’s no sense playing guitar in your room on a beautiful Friday afternoon.  It’s just for fun, I like to hang out and hopefully brighten people’s days.  My friends sometimes drop by and jam, too.  We call it Groovy Friday.

Technique: What is your favorite part of performing?

O’Neal: Sitting out there and smiling at people who pass by. I get a kick out of it when they smile back and I get a kick out of it when they look away and pretend they never saw me. I just get a kick out of it.  Even when they kick me, I just get a kick out of it.

In terms of songs, probably my favorite thing to play is Elvis Costello’s first album, My Aim Is True.  Once I start any of those songs I just have to play the rest of the album.

Technique: Are you ever scared or nervous before you play in front of people?

O’Neal: Not at all!  I’ve been playing in bands since high school, and I love singing.  What’s there to be scared about?  In the worst case, I’m having a great time —in the best case, other people are, too.

Technique: How old were you when you learned guitar and why did you decide to play?

O’Neal: It was about seven years ago, so I would have just been coming out of middle school.  My dad plays piano and his sole guitar skill is playing an A major chord, but he had an old acoustic guitar (complete with decades-old strings and horrific action) in the closet and I pulled it out one day.  He taught me the one song he knows on guitar—“Tampico Trauma,” by Jimmy Buffett, only he just plays the intro because that’s as far as he can get with only an A major fingering—and I taught myself the rest from there.  No lessons or anything, I just wrote terrible songs to teach myself how to play.  And wouldn’t you know it, the songs started getting better!

Technique: You’re pretty active in Under the Couch—what is your job or your responsibilities there?

O’Neal: I am the Equipment Manager for Musician’s Network, the club that runs Under the Couch.

Among other details, I manage the recording studio—people book time with me or one of our other studio engineers and we make music!  We do a lot of one-offs with student bands and musicians, but we’ve recorded albums and EPs with student bands Champagne Room, We Few, Ground Rules and The Tides.

Technique: Why did you decide to get involved in Under the Couch?

O’Neal: It’s a great place for musicians on campus.  The recording studio reeled me in, but there are so many other great things that go on in the space—open mic on Thursday night, shows every week (free for Tech students!), meeting other musicians.

Technique: What’s your favorite part of working there?

O’Neal: Meeting all of the musicians.  Often after our meetings on Monday nights we’ll have a jam session, and anyone can step up and play their instrument with the group.  It’s a great way to meet potential bandmates, if you’re looking to get a group going.  Another fun part of being involved at Under the Couch is working shows—last March I got to be World Inferno Friendship Society’s sound guy!

Technique: If you could perform with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

O’Neal: I’d be thrilled if Art Garfunkel showed up for Groovy Friday.  I can do practically all of Simon & Garfunkel’s discography, but what’s S&G without the harmonies?  If you’re reading this and like to sing harmonies (and/or are Art Garfunkel), come to Skiles walkway around 3 p.m. one of these Fridays and join in!

Technique: What has been your favorite Under the Couch show so far?

O’Neal: That’s an easy one —Clibber Jones Ensemble and Danger Cube, a couple of months ago.  They were both phenomenal.  CJE asked me to record their performance, so I did—I ended up mixing it for them on my own time just so I could hear the show again!  Amazing musicianship there.

Technique: Any advice for aspiring Tech musicians?

O’Neal: Play your music and let people know you exist!  There are more musicians on campus than you know, and we all want to meet you.  If you’re feeling groovy this Friday, pack your instrument and come out and play.