First year Latin students may learn that the word “malum” means evil, but when the members of the band Theater of Malum were coming up with a name for their group, there was no ill intent. They just thought it sounded cool and were hoping to catch people’s attention with the name.  

But it’s been their musicianship that has caught people’s attention even more. Now, this burgeoning metal band from West Springfield high school has landed more gigs regionally than just the high school events that got them started.  

Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan sat in on a rehearsal of this Metallica-influenced foursome who still aren’t even old enough to drive.


Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: First year Latin students may learn that the word malum means evil, but when the members of the Band Theater of Malum were coming up with a name for their group, there was no ill intent. They just thought it sounded cool, and we’re hoping to catch people’s attention with the name.

But it’s been their musicianship that has caught people’s attention even more. Now, this burgeoning metal band from West Springfield High School has landed more gigs regionally than just the high school events that got them started.

Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan sat in on a rehearsal of this Metallica-influenced foursome who still aren’t even old enough to drive yet.

Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: If there’s one plus to working from home, it’s that during those moments of writer’s block, I can walk two feet over from my workstation, plug in, and give myself some music therapy to clear my head.

What I’m doing is all about relaxation and learning to play either the music I grew up listening to, or the music I currently listen to. It’s definitely not about playing in front of people.

Kind of amazing, I haven’t been signed to a record deal yet, right? Kidding, of course. Those dreams went out the window a long time ago, along with my dreams of being an astronaut and playing for the Boston Red Sox.

But for some local kids, that dream is still alive, and their right down the road from me, in West Springfield. They’re not just any kids. These four honor roll Sophomores from West Springfield High School are the band known as Theater of Malum.

On Monday and Thursday nights between the hours of five and nine, this foursome can be found sharpening their skills as a cohesive unit.

And while the studio may just be a basement with minimal soundproofing, having any location to come to is paramount for the creative process.

Darren Chraplak, Vocals/Guitar: I think having a place to practice it, put your ideas forward is very important, because even if you have like a call or something like that, it’s not — you can’t really physically see or hear what’s going on, and I think it’s very important to have that.

As for practice in general, I believe practice is very important, just getting better skill wise.

But I mean, after you’ve been doing it for so long, like these bigger bands, I mean, they’ve been practicing the same songs for 20, 30 years. So, I mean, at this point, you know, I would — I would hope they would know their songs.

But regardless, I do think practice is very important to stay up in tip-top shape.

Brian Sullivan: As an outside observer, it just looks like for good friends having a good time playing music together. And it is.

But, although they do play covers, they’re not just a cover band.

Bruce Dumont, Drums/Vocals: I say it’s a mix between both serious and fun. You know, when we’re here, when we’re first setting up, we’re all goofing because we’re all energetic.

But when we’re writing stuff, that’s when we get a little bit more serious. You know, just so we can focus a bit more on, you know, getting all the notation and stuff down, which takes quite a bit.

And then we get into writing songs where, you know, usually I leave the drums because, you know, a little bit loud and distracting, where they all go on guitars and write stuff — ’cause drums are usually either written first or written last. That’s kind of how it works.

And the guitars, you know, kind of work in between because, you know, they’re the ones that can set the melody, which kind of sets the whole tone for the song. Whereas I’m just, you know, the one that keeps them on time.

Brian Sullivan: Bruce and Darren have each been playing instruments since before they were 10 years old, and together as a band since middle school.

But for the newest member, lead guitarist and songwriter Eli Olesen, this is all a pretty new endeavor.

Eli Olesen, Lead Guitar: I started playing back in January of 2020, so as soon as the pandemic started, I kind of took that as like an opportunity to learn how to — a new skill or something.

Because of I had so much time on my hands, I literally — 10 hours a day, every day, for at least four months straight. And then, I kind of slowed down a little bit.

But, every day playing, playing, playing and it just just — just working at it every day.

Brian Sullivan: And maybe they were just putting on a polite show for me, which they did by playing a pretty solid Metallica mash-up.

But these four boys who aren’t even old enough yet for their driver’s permits showed a lot of maturity in the brief time that we spent together. It’ll be interesting to see where they are in a few years if and when they go away to college.

Ian Gallacher, Bass: Even if we were to leave to like, different colleges or go to different places, I think we would still try to stay connected with each other, keep coming to practice every like, every twice a week like we are doing.

We’re probably going to keep trying to do this as long as we can.

Darren Chraplak: This is just what we love to do. I mean, really, it’s not really about fame or about, you know, money or anything that we just love — we just love playing music. That’s like our big — that’s like all of ours dream!

And we just really enjoy it. And that’s just kind of what keeps us going, gives us the motivation, just doing what we love.