By Eric Abrolat
The road to a student’s future career may have a few curves or bends, but it tends to straighten out, allowing him or her to move forward with one goal in mind. However, for Devon VanNote, a sophomore at McKendree University, his road continues to fork off into two directions – a musical direction and an academic direction. VanNote is an avid gamer, a passionate guitarist and a dedicated computer science undergrad. There is not a moment of his week that isn’t filled with homework, gaming or playing in his band. When thinking about his future, he still doesn’t know what he will end up doing.
VanNote’s interest in computer science originally stemmed from his love for video games. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t read about or play a videogame. Moving forward, he hopes to combine his two interests. With his computer science degree, he aspires to be a game designer or developer, holding particular interest in creating in-game environments. To better his chances of getting hired for such a job, VanNote works at the computer lab in Clark Hall. He is a student tutor to those needing any assistance in computer science courses and as well as works a web page developer for the Computer Science Department. This, however, starkly compares to the type of enjoyment he receives from being a part of his band.
VanNote has been the lead guitarist for the Pop Punk band Which Way since it was founded on May 9, 2013 and has written the guitar sections for 13 of the 16 songs they have written. Band members also include Dakota Kracht on vocals, Jacob Featherling on bass, Lucas Stanfield on drums and Brandon Niepoetter on rhythm guitar. The members of Which Way first met each other in the same Rock 101 class at Centralia High School. Ever since the class, the group has been inseparable, and their friendships have only continued to grow. Niepoetter and Featherling chose to attend McKendree University and are now both roommates with VanNote. VanNote’s favorite part about being in the band is “getting in the zone and connecting with all the guys on stage during a live performance.” Those live performances are opening acts and occur on a weekly basis during the summer and a biweekly basis during the winter. His favorite concert venues are Pop’s, Fubar and The Firebird. He has also performed at McKendree for two tailgates and for the Fall Festival.
VanNote “thoroughly [enjoys] playing,” stating that “it’s something that a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to do.” VanNote has received all his inspiration through his long-time favorite band, Tonight Alive, and it is his goal to play with them one day. He really enjoys listening to their music and attending their concerts, and he hopes he can one day bring that same amount of enjoyment to people listening to him play. So far, however, VanNote’s greatest achievement in his musical career is finishing second in The Battle for Pointfest, the gateway to playing in a large outdoor rock music festival held at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in St. Louis.
Knowing that a record deal is hard to come by and that a degree can be finished at a later date, VanNote said he “would drop out of school in a heartbeat if the opportunity of a record deal presented itself.” Regardless of what happens, VanNote knows that “performing will always be something on the side if [he doesn’t] actually go anywhere with it.” He refuses to end his musical career until he “breaks a hand or an arm falls off and [he] can’t play.” So, in the end, VanNote remains at his junction in life, unsure and unwilling to decide what his future will hold for him.