Banana Bred cooks up spontaneous student music

No, Banana Bred isn’t a Stanford research study on breeding optimal bananas. This self-proclaimed “indie rock cover band” embodies a different spirit — vibrant, fun and unbelievably authentic. 

Formed in 2022, Banana Bred includes singers and guitarists Matt Reed ’24 and Elliot Dauber ’23 M.S. ’24, bass guitarist Isaac Cheruiyot ’23 M.S. ’24 and drummer Gareth Cockroft ’24. The band members originally connected through spontaneous jam sessions.

“We all lived together in junior year in Phi Psi and we just started jamming as a way to become friends,” Dauber said.

Ever since, they have been using their live covers to channel rock band The Backseat Lovers or indie pop group Peach Pit, while occasionally playing a few originals on and off campus. According to Cockroft, the band doesn’t perform paid gigs. 

“I think Elliot once said last year that he was paid for music once, and in some ways it ruined it for him — which I think is super cool and inspiring,” Cockroft said.

Their focus on having fun drives the long-lasting connection between band members, cultivating a welcoming atmosphere that is prime for music making. Cockroft, who picked up the drums for the first time to play with the band, felt this experimentalism firsthand.

“It was fun to be in the audience of their performances and it was even cooler when Matt showed me the most basic drum beat and to be able to [perform] with them,” Cockroft said.

Similar in spirit to the members’ willingness to start on new instruments or re-familiarize themselves with old instruments, the band’s name and concept also originated from fun spontaneity. 

“Right before our first show, we still didn’t have a name and I was eating banana bread from CoHo,” Reed said. “I was like ‘Yo, what about banana bread?’ And then Isaac had the genius idea of just dropping out the ‘a’ — just a little spicier.”

The band stays true to their values of having fun in the moment. When it comes to their intentionality behind music making, Banana Bred spends some time collaborating to make and release singles (most recently, “Homesick”), but ultimately prioritizes live performances. 

“We’ve had a lot more fun and tried to pour energy into just playing shows than recording a bunch of music. [Recording music] is fun for a bit and then you get a couple hours in and you’re like ‘Oh, vocal line again,’” Dauber said. “I think our band’s always been more about just having fun and playing shows.”

Close friend and long-time fan of the band Grant Sheen ’24 said the band’s electricity is evident in their live shows. 

“The fun energy that they bring is really what makes them so special,” Sheen said. “They bring the college feel and try to push the boundaries of genres. They are always trying to grow and just make [performances] a fun experience.”

Each group member hones their own style and brings their own music taste, contributing to Banana Bred’s uninhibited tendency to innovate together. 

“We each bring different characters into the band,” Reed said. “I think Elliot is more folky than the rest of us. I think I bring a more electronic lens.”

Their characteristic improvisational ability has also made their performances have a distinctly immersive and multi-layered feel. Sheen said that his favorite Banana Bred show was their performance of “Apocalypse” by Cigarettes after Sex at Crochella last year.

“After [Banana Bred] finished the song, they just kept jamming and freestyling on it. It was just so amazing,” Sheen said. “The fact that they’re able to take that song which I already love and then expand it was so magical.”

With most of the group members in their final year at Stanford, Banana Bred seeks to seize as many opportunities as possible to share their energetic live music before they graduate. 

“This band will not exist next year, at least not in its current form,” Dauber said. “So, personally, I’m just trying to play as many fun shows as we can.”

To Sheen, Banana Bred has represented something larger than a student band — the ensemble reflects the revival of spirited student initiative and is a platform for pure, communal gathering and enjoyment.

“As someone who has experienced Stanford culture and seen it evolve over the past four years, I think Banana Bred embodies the best of our culture and the direction that I want to see our student body follow,” Sheen said. “They embody a playful, lightness of heart and the creativity and freedom of not being afraid to create your own path and have fun while doing it.”