Living a double life
Under the pressures of a computer science degree and a nationally touring band, Bethel student Landon Conrath makes sacrifices to find balance.
By Callie Chase | Reporter
Landon Conrath’s feet stuck to the stage. His eyes scanned the room; mirrors and walls covered in sharpie. His fingers hit the piano keys and his band member’s foot kicked the stompbox, sending out the sound of a kickdrum, causing the crowd to dance. The front row overflowed with fans who knew every word to every song. In that moment, Harbor & Home owned Skyway Theatre.
“There’s something about the energy that comes from a small, dirty venue that you just can’t beat,” Conrath said.
A sophomore computer science major at Bethel University, Landon Conrath faces the nagging demands of satisfying two different worlds. While studying and attending classes, he also devotes time to drumming for a band that serves 54,000 monthly Spotify listeners, Harbor & Home.
During the summer of 2017, the band reached out to Landon as he was graduating high school and offered him an unpaid position riding in a fifteen passenger van and traveling the United States.
“I was totally fine doing it for free,” Conrath said. “I was just out of high school and I didn’t care.”
In addition to becoming a full time band member, after Conrath entered Bethel, he joined Vespers, a worship team that performs Sunday nights at Bethel University.
Conrath’s older sisters led worship at Bethel ten years prior, and walking in their footsteps was a goal of his. Being able to play drums or keys in Benson Great Hall blew his mind.
“It’s been such an honor to be able to lead students in worship, I am floored by it every single time that people get something from it,” Conrath said. “Little ole’ me, God has placed that on my heart to do that for other people, I am humbled.”
Conrath’s weekly schedule consists of vespers rehearsals, drum lessons, Harbor and Home meetings, Data Structures and Algorithms, Statistics, and Christianity and Western Culture class and homework.
“If we have a brewery gig on a Thursday night, but I have a Thursday night class, I am going to skip that night class every time because I don’t want to miss out on that gig,” Conrath said.
After missing too many classes for music, the grades caught up to him. His mom, Patrice Conrath, Associate Professor of mathematics at Bethel, offers advice yet allows Conrath to come to decisions on his own.
“I have always encouraged him to have balance. Music is very important to him, so he does need to make time and space to continue to grow in his musicianship. But, he is also called to be a student now,” Patrice Conrath said.
Conrath recognizes how little time he has each day, and how many things he wants to accomplish and be involved with. Maintaining relationships with friends and roommates is important to Conrath, yet music holds a level of importance as well.
“I think he’s really balanced,” Conrath’s roommate Nate Taylor said. “He is loyal to his passions and yet still spends time with us.”
After closing out the show at Skyway Theatre, Conrath made his way back to his dorm room at Bethel University. Sticky shoes and hands full of a dozen cymbal bags, he opened the front door to find ten new friends in his living room. Excited to have the company, yet feeling completely exhausted from his night, all he wanted to do was be alone. He dropped everything and headed straight for his bedroom, giving the wrong impression to his guests.
“I remember hearing afterwards how some people thought I was antisocial and kind of a rude, grumpy person,” Conrath said. “It really wrecked me when I heard that because that wasn’t my intention at all. It’s just hard to always be in people pleasing mode.”
Additional Reporting by Sierra Smith and Zach Walker