As a liberal art’s college, it should be no surprise that the Northwestern professors and staff are just as creative as their students, and one of the many ways the NW staff show off their artistic gifts is in the field of music.
Specifically, with associate professor of practical theology, Dr. Jason Lief, he has honed his musical gift to bring light to the Orange City community. He started by teaching himself to play guitar in eighth grade and copying the music of rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen. In high school, Lief would play with his friends but never really formed a band of serious nature. However, when his son Christian began to play drums in the fifth grade, Lief’s band, The Hiccups, was born.
The Hiccups is comprised of Lief on guitar and vocals, Christian on drums, and friend Ben Patzloff on bass and vocals. If their band name sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it comes from the major motion picture animated trilogy: “How to Train Your Dragon.” Back when the group first formed, Lief and his son joked that they were like Stoick and Hiccup, the father and son duo of the HTTYD franchise.
“Given my Viking good looks, I decided that was the name. No discussion,” Lief said.
However, Lief does admit that the name is less fitting now that Christian, no longer in fifth grade but now in high school, is much taller and looks less like gangly Hiccup from the first “How to Train Your Dragon” film. Even so, the group has kept the name over all these years, and Lief’s daughter, Naomi, has even gotten involved in the band by creating a logo.
The Hiccups is a cover band that plays everything from Jack White, to Gary Clark Jr., to Foo Fighters, Led Zepplein and Metallica. Lief describes the group’s sound as “a strange cross between rock, blues, punk, and metal.”
Apparently, this interesting mix of genres is on account of Lief and Christian’s extremely different music tastes. Christian likes blues, punk and folk rock, while his father prefers rock and metal. Lief says his music hero is Dave Grohl, best known for his time in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, and if he could add one famous musician to the group, he’d easily pick Grohl.
As for the future of the band, Lief is not interested in making it big. He’s perfectly content only playing shows in Sioux Center and Orange City. Christian, however, is very serious about his future in music. The high schooler is also the drummer of a second band from Sioux Center called The Ruralists and writes his own music. In fact, he has a record online on the music sharing platform Bandcamp and hopes to pursue a professional music career after he graduates high school.
If students are curious where they can see this eclectic band perform, The Hiccups often play in the BackBack, a live music venue behind The Fruited Plain coffee shop in Sioux Center, where they performed their first show. The group has also played a few shows at Town Square. While the band has been on hiatus for a bit, Lief is confident another show is coming soon—maybe even this spring, so stay tuned. He loves when students swing by to hear his band perform.