Per My Last Email concert at Drom, April 22nd, 2022. From left to right: Hondo Katz (guitar), Brendan Grambow (guitar/vocals), Andy Yang (lead vocals), Daniel Paul (keyboard), Drew Schmitz (drums), Fernando Schiantarelli (drums), Max Colbert (guitar), Sebastian Beltrame (bass)
For many of us, a rock band, especially one that favors tunes from Lizzo, Fountains of Wayne and Harry Styles alike, was one of the most unexpected things to have come out of the MBA program. What first seemed like an odd, amusing hobby became a favorite Stern ensemble that ended their official run with two sold out shows. Not only was their music the foundation of their unlikely friendships, but it also brought us together as a community, where we made some of our best memories at Stern, and for that, we are grateful.
After they played their last show at Drom in April, I got the absolute privilege (I was forced to by our cruel EiC) to sit down and chat with the band where they shared the story behind starting the band, putting on two live performances, hidden musical talents, and their favorite PMLE moments.
Testimonials from some of their most loyal fans:
“Life-changing. No other concert will ever compare.” – Lindsay Shiff, MBA2
“It was the best concert I’ve seen since Covid started! It was hard to beat out PMLE 1.0 but the farewell tour had Andy and Brendan’s melodic notes, power performances from Max and Hondo, DP crushing the keys, Fern and Drew destroying the drums, and Sebastian actually playing music!” – Natasha Raskin, MBA2
“I thought dating a guitarist would be fun! But now all I have is competition with 7 other men and a sweaty cheetah print shirt.” – Michelle Shen, MD/MBA2
“PMLE aka ‘let’s get this midlife crisis up and running,’ is my favorite Stern full-time MBA cover band ever!” – Josh Forgy, MBA2
“The band Per My Last Email, formerly known as Andy Yang and the Yandangys, killed it this year, giving us two amazing shows and future alumni performances to look forward to with the talented lead singer/songwriter Andy, the soulful percussion from Drew and Fern, and the musical stylings from the rest of the PMLE squad.” – Jessica Romano, MBA2
“BTS better watch out for this ensemble. The level of talent, good looks, and ability to make grown men shriek at pitches not heard since their 12-year old days is unmatched.” – Mohammed Sumon, MBA2
“In their most recent performance, Per My Last Email sounded even better than their first show because virtuoso bassist, Sebástión Beltramé, didn’t black out and played more than half of his notes.” – Andrew Kim, MBA2
“PMLE: not enough letters to cover the 27 band members.” – Qurat Khan, MBA2
“Per My Last Email was the first band I’ve seen with three guitarists, two drummers and half a bass player. They made it work and the two concerts were stand out nights from the MBA program. I sincerely hope they will be circling back into my inbox with a comeback tour email soon” – Joseph Morvan, MBA2
“When I first learned there was a ‘business school band’ I was embarrassed to be dating one of them, but after seeing them perform I wish I was dating all of them! Especially Andy. Call me Andy!” – Robin Lippman, MBA 2
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How did the idea of forming the band start?
Andy: We went to the Poconos the first year and we were outside on this deck in this mansion. I think it was me, Drew, Fern and Max. Brendan was also there. I had heard that Fernando and Drew had been drumming separately for a while. And I remembered talking to Max, “We should start playing with them right?” I think I followed up with them multiple times and then finally we all decided to try this out because they were drumming at this studio already. It was Drew, Fern, Max, and then Max’s roommate at the time, Dave? Shout out to Dave. We all went to our first practice. And it was pretty bad, I guess.
Max: Well, it was rough, but I think we surprised each other. We were actually pretty talented. So then we decided to keep going with it.
Andy: But Dave quickly dropped, and it was just me, Max, Fern, and Drew. And then some of you guys came around. How did you guys show up again?
DP: I don’t really remember how I became part of the band. I just kind of showed up. I saw them playing on Andy’s Instagram. I told them I was working on something and I came by for practice. I never really got an invite.
Brendan: I think that’s exactly what happened. I saw it on Instagram. I was like, oh, that’s cool. I know we talked about playing guitar before at the Poconos when I first met you all, but then I just came around some random Friday.
Did you guys all come in with what you knew how to play best?
Drew: Yeah but fun fact, Sebastian has actually never touched a bass before he started playing with us. Everything you guys heard at the concert was his maiden voyage.
What did he play before?
Max: Him joining the band was contingent on him playing the bass for us. He normally plays guitar.
Andy: I remember he said the bass was 70 bucks on Craigslist. And then once he met up with the guy, this guy’s like, you don’t have to pay me. And he didn’t.
Hondo: I gave him the strap too.
Andy: His actual bass is not a bass case either. It’s too short.
Wow, freeloader Sebastian. So, how did you guys put on the first show?
Fernando: We originally started practicing just some songs that we thought were cool. Then I think it was like week three or four we thought we should actually put a couple of songs together and do some covers. We started putting together a list of prospective songs. I mean, it was 30, 40 songs and then we narrowed it down to about 10.
Hondo: Bangers only.
Fernando: Yeah bangers only. And I came down to this idea that we have to play a show. And keep in mind this is the exiting of COVID. We don’t know if it would happen, but we just said you know what, let’s pick a date and work backwards from that day and get a setlist going. So that was the first show.
Well, your first show was sold out. Were you guys surprised with how it went? Because we were all nervous for you to be honest. I was a little stressed before the first show because we had no idea how good (or bad) you guys were.
Hondo: We too, were very stressed. The difference between the first show and the second show is I think everyone with the first show was stress pooping a lot. Then the second show was awesome.
Drew: I think with the first show we were going to be thrilled if we got 100 people to show up. Then when we sold it out, we were all super surprised. For the second show we felt way more comfortable but the added stress was making it as big and as good as the last one. But we as a band were definitely way more comfortable.
Did the success of the first show make the second performance better?
Max: I think we performed better. But I think the first show people were surprised by how good we were so we had like the shock value of everyone thought we would be a crappy garage band but we were actually pretty good. Then the second show people expected us to be good so we were carrying that stress.
Now that it’s over, how did you guys feel the second show went?
Brendan: I think we sounded really good, really strong in rehearsal leading up to the show. We’re really playing together as musicians, not just as some dudes with some instruments, which has been incredibly fun.
Fernando: I think also the first show, it was heart racing the whole time right. It was an hour long setlist of just nervousness and we were trying to have a good time this time around. I mean, we had technical difficulties, we had individual screw ups. We would all look at each other and just smile and enjoy it. We knew it was the last time. I think putting two shows together is really something that we never imagined coming into school. We never thought that we would make a band and make these relationships outside of school events. Also, to have the support from the Stern community to show up for both the shows…That was just really, really amazing.
I want to ask more about that later. But I’m curious, how do you guys decide on the songs?
Andy: That’s the hardest part of the band, right? Because all eight of us have different tastes in music. We all have different strengths too. For example, we have Drew and Fern who both drum, but Drew maybe drums more pop songs while Fern drums more heavy rock songs. There’s just things that we tend to like better than the other.
Hondo: Don’t forget that we made Fern play every song that he’s never wanted to in his life.
Andy: Yes, we did. But we would just randomly throw songs out there, then we would start to decide as a group. There are also songs that we’ve tried to practice and they just didn’t go well. We tried to play Good 4 U and that bombed. I think ultimately we want songs that we all at least kind of like to play and songs that people love to sing to.
Brendan: We also live crowdsourced. At large rowdy business school events when everyone was screaming on the dance floor, we would just look at each other and be like, “This is what we’re playing.”
Well, do any of you have other musical talents that we didn’t get to see?
Max: I grew up playing the piano, actually. So I started playing piano when I was five and I didn’t play guitar until college. I played piano competitively and then I decided guitar is what gets the chicks. So I switched over to playing the guitar. I didn’t really pick up an electric until med school.
Drew: That’s right around the time when you met Michelle right? It clearly worked.
Brendan: I also played piano when I was five. I started playing guitar when I was like 11 or 12, though, so that’s when I made this switch.
Hondo: I actually have the exact same story as Brendan.
DP: I started with violin actually. And I moved to piano because I thought piano would…
Get you the chicks?
DP: Yeah, boy was I wrong.
Andy: I played violin for three years but I hated it. I also play the ukulele!
Drew: I’ve tried to take up the guitar twice. And it just hasn’t really stuck. I can toy around with it but not not nearly the same as what I can do on the drums.
Hondo: We also can’t forget Brendan with the voice of the generation.
Brendan: I’m terrible at singing and playing guitar at the same time. So the first show I actually didn’t sing any backup. By the second one I was dabbling, still messing up a lot but improving.
Finally, what was your favorite part about being in this band?
Max: I think we all say this. But when we think back on business school really the thing I’m going to think about is being right here with these guys. I mean, I’m not going to remember corporate finance but I’ll never forget going to the music studio with these guys once or twice a week spending thousands of dollars on equipment rentals and putting on honestly two unbelievable shows that I don’t think any of us really deserved to have played in. And getting to perform in front of 300 people, our closest friends screaming for us. I mean, it was just an unbelievable experience.
Andy: I think people don’t realize how much time we spend together. I think at certain points in time we spent 10 hours a week together in a small room with no ventilation, just grinding. If we ever go to any type of social event there’s chances are you’ll see us together as well. This happens outside of practice. We’re texting constantly with each other. We spend a lot of time with each other. We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t like each other. Yes, we did two sold out shows which were amazing. But the reason why we do it is because we like hanging out with each other. So this is truly a brotherhood, a family.
Drew: One thing that was just awesome and surprising is that I’ve played in bands since I was 13 and played live shows and they’ve always been dingy little places where you know, you might get paid 20 bucks to play. If you’re lucky, you might have 30 people. So being fortunate enough to play for our friends at Stern and have 300 people come out and also do it with seven of your best friends is the best thing.
Fern: First time I ever visited New York, I went to a bar with my parents and we saw these live musicians, and they were really good. I remember thinking, man, that sucks, these good musicians are probably starving trying to play for money. Then we found out later they were all lawyers, consultants, executives, and that immediately sparked a goal in my mind. I want to be successful career wise, but also eventually be on a stage for at least one show and kill it. I had no idea it would happen now. I thought I would have to pay someone when I’m 65 years old to do that. We’re just endlessly grateful for our community’s support and then the relationships built are just unreal.
Hondo: For me it’s the moments before the show. It’s like the finals of a really big sports game. You feel that level of adrenaline and I felt very bonded with you guys. I think this was really special and I was not expecting this out of business school in any way shape or form.
I think the band is one of the biggest unexpected things to come out of our MBA for all of us. You guys said the second show was your last show, any chance that there’s a reunion after graduation?
Andy: We are losing two members. We’re losing Hondo, he’s going to Denver, and Sebastian is going to Los Angeles. So we don’t have any immediate plans for another show. But we do love playing together.
Max: So… if anyone is reading this and plays the bass…you know what to do.