By TATUM MAPES
What is the best way to convince students that teachers can be cool? How about starting a band? That is exactly what many Redlands East Valley High School staff members did with The Academixx, a classic rock band that performs original songs and covers from the 70s through the 90s.
The Academixx was founded by math teachers Doug Porter and now-retired Gene Melcher. Their drummer, Joe Gianni, describing his first experience with the band, said, “I saw them perform for the staff at the end of that year and noticed that they needed a drummer, so I volunteered my services.” Other staff members joined soon after, and The Academixx was born.
The current Academixx lineup consists of Doug Porter on electric guitar and vocals, Pat Pitts on vocals, Andrew Hoch on electric guitar and vocals, David Kowalski on bass guitar and vocals, Harrison Faux on keys and Joe Gianni on drums. Past members include Glen Johnson, Gene Melcher, Duan Kellum, Steve Funk and Darren Lantz.
When asked about the origin of the band’s name, Porter said that it was suggested by former REV video production teacher Glen Johnson. “I believe we had to add 2 XX’s at the end because Acadmix with one X was already being used by another band. It has always been a band composed of people who work in education (counselors, teachers etc.), so we wanted something that signified that the X at the end kind of made it sound cool because teachers are pretty cool in my opinion,” Gianni said.
The Academixx were lucky to pick up some excellent musicians in 2017. David Kowalski replaced Gene Melcher on bass guitar, REV science teacher Andrew Hoch is now on electric guitar and the band added Harrison Faux to keyboards and piano. 2018 has been a great year for them, as the band released three singles: “Surround Me,” “The Ref” and “Stars” (YouTube channel link below).
Porter said, “The Academixx would perform at local venues in Redlands for various functions as well as performing at school functions,” such as REV’s Battle of the Bands and, more recently, the 2018 Talent Show, where they paid tribute to an old friend.
“Sadly,” says Porter, “we lost Glen Johnson to cancer in 2014, who was a great teacher, musician and friend. One of Glen’s favorite songs to perform in the early years was ‘What I Like About You,’ which the band performed live at the 2018 REV Talent Show with featured members Kurt Clements and Kris Maloney.”
The student audience at the Talent Show was thoroughly engaged in the many songs performed by the Academixx, often times singing along with the band or swaying and shining lights from their phones in unison.
Gianni said that he was eager to perform at more student events. “We used to always play in front of the students in the early years of the band and then started doing paid gigs as time went on. This last time was a lot of fun because first, we have not done this in a number of years, and second, the kids and the audience were awesome. We look forward to doing it again in the near future.”
Porter shared Gianni’s enthusiasm. “I had a blast performing at the REV Talent Show!” Porter said, “It’s always fun to perform for students and staff.”
It appears The Academixx has a bright future ahead of them going into 2019. To check out their music and performances there are links to their Facebook and YouTube pages below.
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYwfZmrvKnTyFaZh2YfXpuA
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/theacademixx/?ref=page_internal