Fischli’s Animals plays their heart out across Claremont Colleges

Student band Fischli’s Animals has played covers of songs across many different genres. (Courtesy: Anadel Ahlvin)

Tali Maximon SC ’24 and Eleanor Henderson SC ’24 started their band as a group project for a class. Now, almost a year later, Fischli’s Animals has grown to seven members and has played at venues across the Claremont Colleges. 

The band has played covers of songs across many different genres, although the music they have played recently has an alt-indie focus. Janey Matejka SC ’24, Jordan James PO ’24, Lauren McAllister SC ’24, Ben Schneider PO ’24, Becky Zhang PO ’23, Mita Kongetira SC ’24 and Maximon are the current members of the band, with their former vocalist Henderson studying abroad.  

Matejka, who was the third person to join the band, decided to be a member because she was looking for a way to improve her music skills as a guitarist. 

“I thought it would be a fun thing,” Matejka said. “I just started playing guitar, so I was like, ‘Oh, I should push myself to perform and play with other people to make myself better,’ and then it just snowballed into a real thing.”

Once all of the original band members joined, they had another task: coming up with a band name. The band decided on the name “Fischli’s Animals” after James, who also plays guitar, shared a meme of a sculpture called “Animal” by Peter Fischli and David Weiss. 

The group started playing gigs after that in locations like Pomona College’s Organic Farm, Pitzer College’s Grove House and a recent picket line for the dining hall workers at Pomona. James and Matejka both saw the Grove House performance as their stand-out show. 

“The Grove House…was very fun because it was only our second performance, but it was the first time that it felt actually good,” Matejka said. “The first one went really poorly, and so we were down on ourselves, … and then [this gig] went pretty well.” 

Schneider, who plays multiple instruments in the band, also thought this gig was Fischli’s Animals’ best, in part because of the complicated logistics behind the performance. 

“What made it stand out was [that] we were supposed to play somewhere else, but Camp Sec came and kicked us out of that space and we had to, last minute, shift to the Grove House and everybody who was there pitched in,” Schneider said. “They helped carry instruments, and it was really fun. It was a really cool atmosphere, and it’s cool how people made it work.” 

Despite great performances like this, the band’s experience hasn’t been perfect. The bandmates had trouble getting access to a rehearsal space last semester, and this year, they had to figure out what course of action to take after Henderson decided to study abroad. 

“We had to figure out whether we were gonna go on hiatus until she came back, or what we were gonna do,” Matejka said. “We ended up finding Becky, who was in another band last semester, but they all graduated, so she was a singer in need of a band, and we were a band in need of a singer. And, then, our friend Mita was able to come on.” 

When Zhang and Kongetira joined the band, there was a shift in the types of songs the band played, as the new vocalists preferred to sing alt-indie music instead of the pop punk songs that Henderson had previously sung. 

Besides a genre shift, the band has changed in other ways. For one, Maximon said that the band is able to practice more frequently. 

“I think we’re trying to be more organized [and] more intentional about how we practice, and then also, we now actually have access to the practice room [at Pomona],” Maximon said. 

In addition, Schneider has noticed an improvement in the quality of the band in several areas. 

“We’ve all gotten a lot better as musicians,” Schneider said. “We’ve all gotten a lot more comfortable performing. Our friendship has gotten closer. We’ve all gotten more used to performing together as friends.”

However, according to Schneider, the band still has a major obstacle to overcome: the aftermath of COVID-19. 

“I think we have a music scene that’s still recovering from the effects of the pandemic, but I think things are moving in the right direction,” Schneider said. “I think that the music scene is going to eventually reach a point where it’s just as lively, if not more lively than it was before.” 

Schneider thoroughly enjoys being a member of the band, and looks forward to future opportunities to play across the Claremont Colleges. 

“I love it,” Schneider said. “I love playing music with my friends. It’s one of the highlights of my week. Every time we practice, it’s a lot of fun. My hopes are to keep playing, keep having fun and keep entertaining the 5C community.” 

Like Schneider, Matejka is excited to continue to play, and is also hoping that the band will start writing songs. 

“Writ[ing] our own music… [is] a big one that we’ve been working on but haven’t really been able to fully realize yet,” Matejka said. “[I hope] just to play more. I feel like we’re in it for experience, just [to] have fun with it.” 

Editor’s note: Becky Zhang PO ’23 is an A&C columnist for TSL.

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