Faculty in the College of Media & Communication know to expect creativity from their students each semester, but for two CoMC undergraduates enrolled in an independent study with Associate Professor of Practice Cam Stone, Ph.D., this meant taking a running start to their future music careers.
Cameron Russell, a senior creative media industries student from Waco, Texas, and Greg Wilson, a senior in communication studies from McGregor, Texas, signed up to take the CMI 4300 course with Stone in Spring 2020.
What made this semester different was that the two Jamie's Guns bandmates came to Stone, a faculty member in the Department of Journalism & Creative Media Industries, with the idea of using this class to create a professional-level music album.
With more than 20 years in the professional music industry himself, Stone was impressed with the students' initiative and knew talent when he saw it in the two friends.
“One of the perks of being here at Texas Tech University is that students have free use of Crossroads, a top-of-the-line production studio, and its equipment in the basement of the library,” Stone says. “This is a great facility, and it's just what musicians need if they want to produce top-quality songs.”
Russell and Wilson have been friends since elementary school, and they will graduate together in May 2021. Both students recognize the critical role a college degree will play in their future careers, but they wanted to combine their academic studies with their mutual passion for music by completing their first album while they were in school.
“I've always loved music, but we have learned so much about audio engineering and how different it is to record instruments in an actual studio,” Russell says. “Dr. Stone was the person who first taught us about audio engineering, and when we'd finished work on the album, it sounded as high quality as the industry standard.”
The studio also provided Aaron Prentice, an experienced sound engineer with the background to help provide a professional experience for the musicians and guide them through the recording process.
“We learned so much about the recording process,” adds Wilson. “Early in the year, we may have been shut down due to COVID, but we figured out that we can be miles apart and still record our music. Communication was a huge part of the process, and both Aaron and Dr. Stone were big parts of that.”
“Working with Cameron and Greg was a pleasure,” Prentice says. “They were both very attentive to details and seemed to be very interested in learning new techniques and workflows within a professional studio environment. We all shared a common interest in creating unique sounds and performances, so in the end, everything came together to yield a wonderful artistic creation.”
Stone also compliments Prentice's professional studio skills.
“Aaron added a lot of production values and produced a really slick professional album with the students,” he says. “It's high quality work.”
Stone, who is known around the college by his regular KTXT 88.1 FM music show handle “Doc Rock,” is enthusiastic about the students' finished album.
“Every song is great and making the album digitally available makes it very easy to sell the work on sites such as Spotify,” Stone says. “The guys worked their tails off on this project. Cameron and Greg were very professional throughout the process and met all the deadlines doing quality work.”
The two friends already have plans for a second album and will use the experience of making their debut album to shop their work through the music industry for a potential record deal.
“If this first album doesn't kick their new careers into the industry, I'm not sure what will,” Stone adds. “This experience has been great. The first album rocks, and I've been happy to use my industry background to help students reach their professional goals.”
The band's eponymous first album features eight tracks. Find out more about Jamie's Guns and stream their album now through their website [https://jamiesguns.com/].