School of Rock's Mollie Reyes is quite the character. She's animated, never taking life too seriously, but she's in a new position for the school that can be easily filed under high-pressure: one that wedges her in between the parents of suburbia and the youngsters of the metroplex who are dying to start rocking. Thankfully, after speaking with her, we learned that the parents aren't nearly as tense as they're portrayed in a lot of our favorite John-Hughes-esque coming-of-age films. Reyes has found them supportive and largely musically interactive themselves. Reyes also spent a spell booking live music in Denton, and she knows her bands. It was great to get to know her, and School of Rock (which operates quite a handful of branches around DFW) a little bit better on the eve of her bump up to GM the new SOR outlet in Mansfield.
So, apart from School of Rock students and their bands, what's some your favorite area live music?
There's so much talent in DFW. I booked shows at Hailey's in Denton back in 2011 with Mulberry Street Productions and was fortunate enough through that experience to meet some really incredible musicians. Everyone at Do For It records -- The Phuss, House Harkonnen, The Spectacle, Shaolin Death Squad. They were some of the first shows we booked so there will always be a special place in my heart for the Do For It crew. ALL of the bands that our teachers are in: The Virgin Wolves, Mothership, The P-Town Skanks, Vinyl, Somebody's Darling, Dark Rooms, The Auxiliary Voice, Cozy Hawks, Surrounded by Monsters, Daniel Markham, Upside, Fair to Midland, Peacemaker... the list could go on. We've got the best group of instructors at School of Rock teaching these kids and I am absolutely a fan of every single one of them. Boxcar Bandits, Hares on the Mountain, Charlie Shafter, RTB2, Seryn, Ishi, The Alpha Girls to be a friend and a fan of such an incredibly talented community of musicians makes life pretty beautiful!
School of Rock Mansfield is going to be your baby when construction wraps. How's it looking?
Great! This school is my baby. It's brand new and this is the first location that I will be managing so I'm really pumped. Working on the grass roots promotion right now and shooting for an open date of late February. I've been insanely busy throughout the last few months.
What are you doing for SOR while your baby is still being built?
In addition to opening Mansfield I'm also currently working at our Southlake location, but have been very fortunate to have an awesome team of people supporting me throughout the process. I basically work for the coolest people on the planet so the times that maybe should have thrown me for a loop have been pretty breezy. We're a big family here at School of Rock and there is always someone around to lend a hand and offer advice.
Do you do any teaching yourself?
I don't do any teaching myself, but I've worked at almost all of our DFW locations at this point - I started out at our Fort Worth location as an office manager, and moved into somewhat of a floater position between the Frisco, Southlake, Fort Worth and Dallas schools, giving our GM's a much needed day off in their schedules.
I've most recently been working as School Coordinator at our Southlake location which is where I am currently based out of. I feel really fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at so many locations. I've gotten the opportunity to see so many of these awesomely talented weirdos grow as people and musicians and it's just really cool and inspiring.
As GM, does your position sometimes require you to the "diplomat in the middle" between enthusiastic students and the more grownup mentality of parents from the suburbs?
You know, going into working at School of Rock I was always kind of worried about parent issues and the best way to approach the sort of sticky situations that were inevitably going to come up but we have THE BEST, most supportive parents who, ultimately, just want to see their kids having a good time learning and growing as musicians. A ton of our parents are in our adult band programs, they are always out cheering at shows and are our biggest supporters. We have a great relationship with our families! Working out the kinks when they come up is pretty painless for everyone involved.
The School puts on a lot of well-thought out themed performances. What's the flagship live event?
Hands down, Rockstravaganza for me every year just kind of validates why I do what I do. It's a School of Rock takeover of Deep Ellum; sort of our answer to SXSW. All the kids from all of our locations will play sets at some of the biggest venues: Trees, Three Links, Dada, Boiler Room, Wit's End, Prophet Bar, Curtain Club, you'll see tiny musicians hauling gear from one venue to the other all day. The kids get super stoked to play these venues and they KILL.
Last year Vaden Todd Lewis actually came and performed a few songs with the kids to close out the day. He's been a champion of the school for a really long time. We LOVE The Toadies at School of Rock so that was a pretty big moment for a lot of our kids. Getting to play Possum Kingdom with Vaden Todd Lewis when you're 11 is a pretty sweet gig. How about live music on your own time? Run us through your history there.
I started when I was about 16, sneaking into shows at Firewater to see Upside and The Feds..sorry, Mom! It's been a solid 10 years of show going! Live music is lifeblood for me. I've just relocated from Dallas to Fort Worth and have been discovering some really fantastic bands around here.
Yeah, what Ft. Worth talent is a Dallas music fan transplant happing on first?
I adore Ryan Tharp, he's got an incredible voice and his band is insanely talented. I've recently discovered Guthrie Kennard who plays up at Magnolia Motor Lounge most Sundays. Jacob Furr is wonderful too, Shotgun Friday is blast, I'm constantly on the hunt for shows and new music and this is really a perfect place for that.
Was there a profound event in your youth that turned you into a music person?
There are a few instances that stick out to me - My moms brother was a musician and was always playing Led Zeppelin and Hendrix when we were around. He had long curly hair and was always in tie-dye, ripped jeans and John Lennon specs. He dated a girl with pink hair when I was about 5 so I think the combination really triggered something in me. I always looked up to him. Still do.
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He's one of the coolest people I know. Also In 4th grade I bought my first Bjork and my first Ani Difranco CD so I always feel like that's when I finally became like a real functioning person. Gone were the days of only listening to Disney soundtracks and Gloria Estefan's greatest hits... I started to really explore music after that point which sounds kind of silly considering I was maybe 10 but that's really where it started for me. Post and Little Plastic Castle are still two of my favorite albums. I think though probably the most profound musical moment for me was meeting this band Ludo when I was about 15.
I remember Ludo! They were great. They were on one of the big labels for a bit.
My brother's friend was their drummer. One day I somehow convinced him that I was cool enough to go to a show with him. I was obnoxious and talked too much and was generally just in the way most of the time, so they started giving me little jobs to do, I'd go around the venue at shows getting people to sign up for their email lists, when they were on the road they would mail me stickers and sampler CD's with lists of shows to go to and I'd pass them out to kids when the shows were letting out.
Eventually they had me coordinating street team events and selling merch and when they finally signed to Island Records in 2007 they got me a little gig with their Field Marketing department, which was super sweet because I was 19 and living in Austin at the time and I would get into almost any show I wanted to go to. Not a bad deal. Those guys really took me under their wing and I met SO many great bands during that time, Ha Ha Tonka, The Feds, Upside - I'm living in DFW now because of the bands that I met through Ludo. Sid Goldsmith, formerly of Upside is one of my dearest friends and actually got me my job at School of Rock- It's weird how things work out. Music in all aspects has really just consumed my life and it's kind of perfect.