It’s been a little more than two weeks since the unceremonious conclusion to Florida State’s season. But not every aspect of Saturday football in Tallahassee was a bust. One thing consistently rang true – the band looked and sounded great. Hundreds of hours practiced, thousands of notes played, flags (and fire) twirled, and beats of percussion kept the more than 400 Marching Chiefs in step. These incredible and dedicated musicians continue to enhance cherished traditions of Florida State University football. If you take the Marching Chiefs away, you take the heart and soul of Doak Campbell along with it.
Being in Chiefs was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life and my time at FSU. From stunning Miami to traveling to Pasadena, California, it was an honor to be part of this tradition.
Since I graduated, a new generation of Marching Chiefs have come. I had the pleasure of speaking to Riley Carrier – the center snare of Big 8, FSU’s drumline.
Eric Parks (EP): Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Riley Carrier (RC): I began to play percussion throughout middle school, eventually performing with drumline and Wind Ensemble at Wakulla High for four years. Both my percussion instructor and band director were Florida State and Marching Chiefs alums. I feel that their experience with the Chiefs and our close proximity to FSU gave me a lot of exposure to the music programs.
EP: What made you interested in joining Chiefs and how has this experience influenced your time at Florida State?
RC: Hearing the amazing quality of music the Chiefs and Big 8 played at gamedays and concerts made me want to be a part of it. The traditions, the caliber of musicianship and everything that Chiefs has to offer only solidified that desire. I knew that I would audition immediately after being accepted into FSU. After three years, I look back and see that being a Chief impacted my college career more than I expected. I’ve grown exponentially as a musician and gotten to perform alongside world-class musicians, made lifelong friends and established a greater work ethic and attention to detail, and learned how to (and how not to) communicate with an extremely diverse group of people.
You may hear that Chiefs is a social organization that plays music, and in some cases that may be true. However, I think the truth to that statement lies in the idea that, albeit cliché, Chiefs is a family. I’ve definitely found family in my fellow Chiefs – which I think has been the largest determining factor to the success of my college career thus far. I have a support group, people to hold me accountable, and people to push me.
EP: Obviously, the football season was not as successful as we all would have liked. However, the Chiefs “never lose a halftime.” What were the greatest accomplishments by the Chiefs this year?
RC: This year was an extremely successful year for us! We had the opportunity to play a role in several events that aren’t on our normal schedule. One in particular that shows how significant the Marching Chiefs are to the University and how much trust and respect the administration has for us was our performance for the President of Botswana upon his arrival to FSU in late September. He is an FSU alumnus and came to meet with President Thrasher and visit campus on his way to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
Another new tradition that began this year is a new post-game tradition of singing the fight song with the football team, Golden Girls, and cheerleaders after the games. Though this has been unofficially happening with some of these programs for years, our directors communicated with Coach Taggart, and from both ends there was a huge emphasis on unity and solidarity in the student body and between programs. I feel this says a lot about the character of Coach Taggart and the direction our organizations are going as a whole.
EP: What was your favorite show from the season?
RC: In terms of our regular performances, my favorite halftime show this year was “The Greatest Showman.” We played “The Greatest Show”, “Come Alive”, “This is Me”, and “From Now On.” The show featured a dance by the Chiefs, cheerleaders, and Golden Girls. The soundtrack to that film is phenomenal and we had really great arrangements, which made it a lot of fun.
EP: What are you most looking forward to for the next marching season?
RC: I’m really looking forward to making more connections and developing relationships with Chiefs and instructors, continuing to progress as a drumline, bringing back some old music that Big 8 has not played in several years as well as writing some new beats and raising the bar for Chiefs as a whole!
EP: Prior to next season, the Chiefs are traveling to Normandy, France next June for the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landing. What do the Chiefs plan to do while there?
RC: Yes! We’re marching in a parade in Normandy on June 6th. It’s held annually in honor of those who fought or lost their lives during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. It will be along Omaha Beach from Vierville-sur-Mer to Saint Laurent-sur-Mer. As part of the parade celebrations, we will also perform at the National Guard Memorial overlooking Omaha Beach. While we are in France, the American Celebration of Music Concert Series will be taking place. We have two performances as part of this series, one at Luxembourg Gardens and one at Champs de Mars in Paris. We’ll go to Coleville to perform a short memorial recital and participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the American Cemetery. We will have some time to be tourists and see all the sights everywhere we go!
EP: Is the University providing any financial assistance? How can we help you and other Chiefs raise enough money to go to France?
RC: President Thrasher, the College of Music, and the University as a whole are offering a ton of support for this trip. Having the Chiefs represent our nation and our university on such a global scale is something they’re really proud of! Every Chief who attends is still having to pay over $2,000 out of pocket. This is an amazing deal for such a large trip; however, many Chiefs won’t be able to go without the help of donations and fundraising! If somebody would like to support our trip they could go to give.fsu.edu/Normandy. I appreciate everyone’s support!
EP: Final question: If Drs. Plack and Dunnigan were to start a cover band, what would they call themselves?
RC: If they started a cover band they would probably call themselves DP/DD and they would kill some AC/DC covers! I can totally see Dr. Dunnigan jamming to Thunderstruck!