It looks like Russian spies aren’t the only ones who’ve discovered a way to break Facebook. Last week, the budding Dallas band Learning Names released a music video for its first single, “Be Quiet,” that quickly attracted over 15,000 views between Facebook and YouTube, two-thirds of which came from the former.
Founding member Dook Dootson says the band couldn’t believe the video’s sudden success.
“We were shocked,” he says, seated at a table at Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton. “We never expected it to get as many hits as it did. It just went crazy, and we didn’t even have a Facebook account until two or three weeks ago.”
But pretty soon, the views that their newfound fans had given, Facebook had taken away. Vocalist/guitarist Dootson says that last week, the video mysteriously vanished without warning. No one from Facebook had reached out to the band to explain why it was removed.
Bassist Hanly Funderburk chimes in and suggests that they start writing anti-Facebook tunes to stick it to the site’s co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg.
Dootson seems to like the idea. “‘Fuck the Zuck, fuck the Zuck!’” he chants, making his bandmates laugh. Then, he gestures to the tape recorder that’s resting on the table.
“Print that,” he says.
The Observer reached out to Facebook on Thursday to ask why the video was removed. While we haven’t yet been offered an official reason, “Be Quiet” was reinstated by Friday morning.
“Be Quiet” also started gaining traction on Reddit after it was uploaded by an anonymous user, Dootson says.
Funderburk says he was visiting family back home in Alabama when he heard that the video had made it to the top of the ListenToThis subreddit. He was nursing a hangover one morning when his brother shared the news.
“He said, ‘Dude, your video is on fire,’” Funderburk recalls. “It was a moment. That’s when I got very excited, because I knew that we had made a splash with our single.”
The song is the stuff that platinum records are made of. Dootson says he wrote it about a couple’s acrimonious breakup, and he sings from both party’s perspectives. Still, “Be Quiet” isn’t a down-tempo drag. The drums and bass propel the song at a brisk, uplifting clip, while violin, keys and acoustic guitar meld into a rapturous indie anthem.
“You wrote all the secrets / Man I’ll take them to my grave / There’s a cause / effect, believe me / But I just can’t make that change,” Dootson sings, his impressive vocal range on full display. “Don’t give me those words / Don’t sing me those lies / Throw your reasons to the tide.”
After moving from Manchester, U.K., in January 2019, Dootson took to the web to recruit band members via sites like Craigslist and Reddit. Soon, Erica Chapa (violin), Wyatt Sustaita (keys, trumpet), Ben Zellner (drums) and Funderburk joined. Now the band meets at least three times a week to workshop new material and rehearse.
Dootson recorded the band’s upcoming six-song debut EP, A Future Now Present, at his home studio. (Although the studio doesn’t officially have a name, the band jokes they’ll dub it “The Wyatt Estate” to honor their lone brass player.) Dootson also takes all of the band’s promo pictures thanks to the self-timer on his camera. And the band filmed the video for “Be Quiet” by themselves, too.
“We’re big on the DIY thing,” Sustaita says.
Although they’re a relatively new band, Learning Names take their endeavor dead seriously. For her part, Chapa’s bulletproof resolve earned her a spot as the group’s de facto publicist. Considering she’s a contract worker by day, it makes perfect sense that she’s not afraid to get stuff done.
“I swing a hammer and break shit,” Chapa says of her day job.
“Like Miley Cyrus,” Dootson adds with a cheeky grin.
Hell, with her determination, Chapa could single-handedly topple the indestructible Leaning Tower of Dallas. She’s already nabbed Learning Names a spot performing at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival and Dallas Pizza Fest. Plus, she says she recently found out she’d landed them an unofficial South by Southwest slot at the 6th Street nightclub, Touché.
Funderburk says that before joining Learning Names, it had been a while since he’d touched his bass. It’s great having a viral video and all, he adds, but he’s just stoked to be playing music again.
“I didn’t think it would come back around at this stage of life,” Funderburk says.
The rest of the band is equally excited to be musically active, but their opinions diverge when it comes to career goals. Sustaita jokes that the band’s all-time aim would be to make $100 million; Dootson says he’d rather buy a pet tiger to act as their mascot.
But then the conversation returns to Facebook, and Funderburk waxes existential: “That’s our ultimate goal: to obliterate these greedy social media moguls.”
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With arms crossed, Dootson slowly nods his head in agreement.
“Hey, it could work,” he says. “The revolution is now.”
Watch "Be Quiet" below: