Secret Lives: The Office of International Programs has a ‘house band’

When staff in the Office of International Programs host an event, they look no further than their own house band for musical entertainment.

Five staff members in OIP – Alan Boyd, Tyler Clayton, Christy Eylar, John Hildebrand and Scot Smith – make up the band “GUS” and have performed at many of the office’s gatherings.

Why the name GUS? Well, it’s Smith’s nickname, although Hildebrand often jokes that it stands for “Gooey, Unctuous Sound.”

Boyd plays drums and sings (he used to play with a band in Turkey), Clayton plays keyboard/piano/organ, Eylar is the lead singer, Hildebrand plays lead and rhythm guitar, and Smith plays bass. The band was formed in Fall 2018 after Hildebrand and Smith started jamming together, and the group performed at an office retreat the following January.

The band members describe Smith as the most serious musician of the bunch. The IT manager started playing bass at age 12 and was a member of several bands in the 1980s in the Northwest. He played in a band called The 3 Swimmers that opened for the Gang of Four during a West Coast tour.

“The band has been a great avenue for getting back into playing bass fairly consistently, and getting to know some coworkers better,” Smith said.

“We’re definitely keeping our day jobs,” Boyd says with a laugh.

That day job for Boyd and Hildebrand is serving as senior international student and scholar advisers. Clayton is assistant director for data and systems resources, while Eylar serves as associate director for international student and scholar services.

GUS posing on the Oval for a photo.
GUS posing on the Oval for a photo.

The style of music they play varies widely: Their list of favorite covers includes tunes by Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Amy Winehouse, Dolly Parton, the Jackson 5, Nirvana, Talking Heads, Whitehorse and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

“It would be hard to find a genre that we haven’t played,” Clayton says.

They say Vice Provost for International Affairs Kathleen Fairfax has been integral to the band’s success – and has been their most reliable source of gigs. 

“The OIP house band is a phenomenal way for our dedicated and talented colleagues to work together to produce something the entire team can enjoy,” Fairfax says. “The house band has played at our retreats, our holiday parties, and just for fun. Their music brings us together.”

Eylar agrees.

“For me, this band has been such a positive thing in my life, and these guys have become some of my really good friends as a result,” she says. “And I’m just really grateful that I’ve had this creative outlet and group of people to spend my time with the last several years.”

Eylar adds that playing with GUS can sometimes even be therapeutic for her.

“It’s like, ‘Let me talk about this personal problem with you and then we can sing loud music and play loud music,’” she says. “And there’s always lots of laughing.”

“It’s a blast,” Hildebrand says. “It’s really fun to get out and be in a different space with coworkers, and we have fun doing it. I don’t think we take ourselves too seriously.”

Clayton concludes: “These are great people to work with, but much better to jam with.”