“He kicked my butt and whipped me into shape,” 2004 Malone alumnus Dan Gartley said. He was referring to musician Mark Townsend who taught a few of Gartley’s classes in the commercial music technology program.
Gartley said that Townsend, who headed up dc Talk’s backing band, Zilch, approached him as a sophomore or junior to make a request.
Zilch was touring without dc Talk and Townsend wanted Gartley to play as part of the band. Gartley readily accepted.
Gartley had played around campus before, assisting friends when needed.
“I was the bass player everyone knew,” Gartley said.
The campus scene was dominated at the time by a hodgepodge of worship bands and lacking in variety. Gartley, who was interested in playing in a more conventional rock band, hadn’t found his niche yet.
Zilch was his first opportunity. And they were a serious touring band.
In 2004, Townsend, feeling that Gartley was prepared for professional music, offered his student a second opportunity.
Townsend, now in Nashville, offered the recently graduated Gartley a room and a chance to get started in the business. Gartley took a job with Starbucks first, then with Relient K as a guitar tech.
Then, Gartley got the word that Sanctus Real, now a few years into their contract with Sparrow Records, was a man down and in need of a new bass player.
While making phone calls, Sanctus contacted Gartley’s roommate, a member of the band Bleach. The band was unaware that the man for the job was not far away.
“They didn’t realize they were calling people I lived with,” Gartley said.
Finally, Gartley got the gig and three albums later he still remembers his college experience fondly.
“You make connections with the ground you live on,” Gartley said. “I’m definitely looking forward to coming back and playing.”
Gartley, previously a member of the concert and jazz bands, expressed the surreal feeling of making music that his alma mater would book and promote. He referred to the upcoming performance as “cool” and “nostalgic.”
Gartley is excited to play with the newest generation of bands.
“I haven’t heard them yet,” Gartley said, referring to A Minor Bird and Great Seal. “It will be cool to play with students from Malone.”
Sanctus Real performs Saturday September 17 in the Johnson Center at 7:00 p.m. They will start a tour with Casting Crowns in a few months with a show at Akron Baptist Temple.