Teacher Tunes: What Does La Salle’s Staff Listen To?


Ashley Hawkins

“I like lyricists,” Mr. Alex Lanaghan said. “They have something to say.”

Lucas Pinaire, Staff Reporter

It’s easy to write off middle-aged high school teachers as inherently uncool. While that may or may not be true, there are aspects of their younger days that are on trend. For instance, with the resurgence of 90s music, along with other trademarks of the period, high school students may find themselves listening to some of the same artists as teachers. If you like The Smashing Pumpkins, A Tribe Called Quest, Fiona Apple, Beastie Boys, or any other popular artists from the 80s and 90s, it’s likely that you have more in common with your teacher than you think.

Paul Dreisbach:

English teacher Mr. Paul Dreisbach describes his current music taste as fitting into four categories: radio music from his youth, 90s hip-hop, hard rock, and Americana. 

Growing up, Mr. Dreisbach picked up a lot of his music from his older sisters. He described continually listening to music from this time because of its association with his childhood. Such music is “feel-good music,” he said. “It reminds me of the radio. It’s not necessarily stuff that I think is the greatest music that’s ever been produced, but it’s just fun.”

In his later teen years, Mr. Dreisbach began to listen to bands and artists that would eventually become some of his all-time hard rock and hip-hop favorites like Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock, The Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, The Queens of the Stone Age among others.

These artists, among many others, were just emerging as Mr. Dreisbach was graduating high school, so he deems the early 90s as one of his most influential musical eras. 

He does listen to more current music from time to time, but he described the world of music streaming by comparing it to television, saying, “there’s just too much selection.” While he’s not averse to finding new music digitally, Mr. Dreisbach prefers a personal recommendation.

Alex Lanaghan:

Social studies teacher Mr. Alex Lanaghan generally enjoys all types of music with the exclusion of country, but he tends to lean towards alt-rock and 90s hip-hop.

Growing up in Chicago, the decade and location of his upbringing have had a significant impact on Mr. Lanaghan’s taste. 

“I like lyricists,” he said. “Like they have something to say.” Groups meeting this requirement for Mr. Lanaghan included, but were not limited to, Black Star, a Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, and Beastie Boys.

Mr. Lanaghan enjoys listening to some of these artists’ newer work, but he always reverts to his tried-and-true 90s favorites.

Where he grew up, Mr. Lanaghan had access to all sorts of live performances, including the popular music festival, Lollapalooza in the early 90s. There, he mentioned having the chance to see the Beastie Boys, and another one of his favorite groups, The Smashing Pumpkins.

Mr. Lanaghan was also exposed to many shoegaze and grunge Chicago-based bands growing up. Aside from The Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, and Wilco top the list for him. 

In a wider sense, Mr. Lanaghan recalled being exposed to bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, but he also enjoys new music. As a source for new music, Mr. Lanaghan cited his favorite radio station, 94/7 Alternative Portland.

Eric Roth:

In contrast to the aforementioned teachers, science teacher Mr. Eric Roth described a significant change in taste over the years. “It’s evolved over time, just like anything,” he said.

Through this evolution, Mr. Roth has touched a bit of every genre. He possesses an appreciation for the classics in every sense of the description, by being raised in a household full of classical music, and growing up during the age of what we now consider classic rock. 

In his youth, Mr. Roth found new music from friends as well as record stores and the radio. Even with a diverse taste, Mr. Roth still outlined certain themes common in the music he likes. 

Being a guitar player himself, exciting guitar work and general musicianship is a big draw for Mr. Roth. The guitar brought him to artists such as Les Claypool, Jimi Hendrix, and Jaco Pastorius.

Mr. Roth’s general musical interest led him to revered jazz musicians like Miles Davis.

Mr. Roth is also interested in lyricism, noting Fiona Apple as a favorite artist “who has something to say”.

However, the overarching theme is Mr. Roth’s interest in musical experimentation. Music that surprises or provokes a reaction from the listener is of particular interest to Mr. Roth. “I think some of the best music is the music that you may not like right off,” he said, noting Apple’s recent album “Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” as one that provokes such initial skepticism.

Cha Asokan:

Art teacher Ms. Lakshmi Cha Asokan has never ceased her search for new music. From growing up in the vibrant musical landscape that is New York City to marrying a musician, Ms. Cha has led a music-rich life. 

Growing up, Ms. Cha first learned about music from older relatives, filling her early years with famous bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, but from there she branched out quickly.

Ms. Cha quickly began to hop around between various genres, including but not limited to hip-hop, reggae, older country, punk rock, jazz, and lots of underground music. This variability has been an ongoing trend. 

Although not quite applicable because of her broad taste, Ms. Cha described how music can almost dictate your lifestyle in New York. “In the 80s and 90s the music you listened to definitely shaped who you are,” Cha said. “It’s a big cultural identity thing.”

With an exceeding passion for music, Ms. Cha has attended seemingly countless concerts. She has seen artists at every level of popularity, but topping the list of most recognizable names are The Grateful Dead, Public Enemy, The Flaming Lips, Ween, A Tribe Called Quest, The Ramones, and De La Soul.