Student rock band lives, plays together in Iowa State residence hall

AMES, Iowa -- With all four "Tempest Rose" band members attending Iowa State University, it seems only natural that these best friends from West Des Moines are living together to pursue their dream of making it big. And Iowa State has helped by allowing them to live together in an Eaton Hall suite.

Justin Whisler, Charles Bickett, Joe Quetsch-Bales and Lance Carlson have been best friends for more than 10 years. Their friendship began when all four earned Eagle Scout honors and attended elementary, middle and high school together. But it wasn't until they joined together to play music in Justin's garage for his sister's high school graduation that the idea for a band developed. Following their graduation from Valley High School in May 2008, the four headed to Iowa State.

"A lot of bands have to break up and go their separate ways after high school, but we all decided to go to ISU and continue following our dream," said Whisler, Tempest Rose vocalist, drummer and Hixson scholar music major. "And it's only the beginning."

Iowa State's residence system provides many different types of on-campus housing -- including a four-person suite that gave the Tempest Rose band members the opportunity to stay together and play together.

Roommate request process made easy

"All we had to do was request each other as roommates," said Bickett, bass guitarist, vocalist and freshman in electrical engineering. "Living together provides an option for writing music instantaneously. If one of us gets an idea, we can just yell across to the other side of the suite and put the music together right away instead of waiting for a group rehearsal."

"We do our best to honor roommate requests," said Lisa Ludovico, program coordinator in ISU's Department of Residence. "We make it as easy as possible for students and can honor 85 to 90 percent of roommate requests for newly admitted students."

"Iowa State allows us to pursue our different interests through a variety of majors and class options, but at the same time we're able to live together and play as a band," said Quetsch-Bales, lead guitarist and vocalist in pre-architecture.

With a rock band living together in the same residence hall suite, one may ask how their neighbors feel about the rooming situation.

"The neighbors don't seem to mind because we practice mid-day and not at night," said Whisler. "We've actually gotten quite a few compliments from the people in our building -- even the mailman. The construction crews across the street told us they liked our music and said 'You guys are awesome!'"

But practicing only in the afternoon has its drawbacks, too.

"Practicing full out and all together has been tricky, but since Des Moines isn't that far away, we save our big band practices for when we go home," said Quetsch-Bales. "We make sure we get right to practicing and get everything done before heading back to Iowa State."

"We used to practice in my living room but then we got kicked out by the mother-figure," joked Whisler. "Now we practice in my garage, and believe me -- it's not quite as warm."

The benefits of living, playing together

After more than two months of living together, the friends still enjoy the 'suite' band life.

"We can trust each other and it helps the creative process. I think if we didn't live together it would be hard to find time to continue to balance our schoolwork, listen to each other's ideas and write music," said Quetsch-Bales.

"We use living together to our advantage," said Bickett. "And at the end of the day, we're all still friends and that allows us a certain freedom to be able to express our ideas and passions."

The group has participated in and won several battle of the bands competitions in the

Des Moines area and recently won ISU's Homecoming 2008 "Living the Dream" battle on Oct. 23. Tempest Rose received $300 for its latest win.

"It was really fun to finally be able to play a show in Ames and show Iowa State what we are all about," said Whisler. "And the $300 will make a great addition to our general band fund, which we use for equipment and recording."

As the members continue their love for music, they also think about the future of Tempest Rose.

"We're OK if it doesn't happen, but we all share the clique dream of becoming famous," said Carlson, rhythm guitar player and open-option major. "Our goal is to stay together, even as we each pursue different interests, whether it is study abroad or personal interests."

"The fun aspect is that we're in this band because we love writing and making music," said Quetsch-Bales. "If you're doing it for just the fame or money, then you're doing it for the wrong reasons. We're in this for each other, the fun, the people, and the experience and never about selfish intentions."

All four members of the band agreed that they think of each other more like brothers than just band-mates.

"We developed a band from our friendship, not a friendship from a band -- and that's why I think we'll be successful," said Quetsch-Bales. "When I'm up there on stage with these guys, there's nowhere else I'd rather be."