In their pursuit of music, Glen Rock’s Bad Susan is off-kilter and on-key

Speaking with the members of Glen Rock High School band, Bad Susan, The Glen Echo spotlights their rise to fame.


Photo Credit: Tyler Joachim

The members of Bad Susan. Left to Right: Dylan Kennedy, Kyle O’Connell (back turned), Sam Halpert Rodis, Tim Mountain, Abby Koenig

“Guys! Can we answer some questions? We want them to know we’re a real band.” These were the illuminating words of Bad Susan vocalist Abby Koenig as we were finishing up our interview.

This would seem a strange request at the end of an interview, but you might come to understand it if you met the band members in person.  Frequently tangential, this quirky group ultimately wants you to know that they’re a real band — they perform — and they’re bad: Bad Susan, that is.

Their idiosyncrasies and exuberance are enough to make one think the band might be just another of their friend-group’s quirky, off-the-wall, and sometimes enigmatic jokes; yet the band is in fact a genuine effort. The band is comprised of singer Abby Koenig, Sam Halpert Rodis [who plays soprano, alto, tenor, baritone saxophone], clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Kyle O’Connell, bassist Dylan Kennedy (who may play guitar “if [he has] to”), keyboardist Tim Mountain, and their mystery drummer Olias who is “Mediterranean to South American” but refused to take part in the interview, the photograph, and has remained mysteriously absent to the question of non-existence.

Band manager and organizer Sam Halpert Rodis purportedly organized the band over the summer. Sam said, “I thought that um… I, and then we, I brought: Bad Susan.”

Yes, Bad Susan.

When pressed on the origin of their name, the answer was a resolute “No comment.”

“…No comment,” said Sam Halpert Rodis with confirmation from Timmy Mountain. “I assure you that Olias also does not have a comment,” said F. Timothy Mountain, speaking for their missing band member.

Though, in the journalistic pursuit, I pressed them further on how they thought this refusal to reveal Bad Susan’s origin might detract from their prospective fan base. Yet I was rebuffed again with another resounding chorus of “No comment!” and much laughter.

Currently, the band is doing a cover of nearly fifty songs, and eventually it might do another song that “wasn’t someone else’s before [them],” according to Kyle O’Connell.  Thus far, the band has only had a few practices, and they are planning to play multiple events throughout the school year: “Such as school-run events, and also events outside of the confines of the school such as coffee houses and Glenstock events and others outside of school,” said Sam Halpert Rodis. He then added, “I hope that you are all doing well today.”

These are reputedly just some of the venues Bad Susan is slated to play at, as group member Tim Mountain added, “…we’re scheduled to play at Carnegie Hall tomorrow, then Royal Albert Hall. We’re playin’ at the Superbowl Dome, and we’re playing Chicano.” This is yet to be confirmed.

Abby Koenig, the band’s vocalist, is (self-declared) the best band member after Bad Susan was asked “who is the best band member, and whoever answers first is right.” The other band members seemed to take this quite well, perhaps lending some truth to her proclamation.

Bad Susan has been influenced by a variety of vocal artists. According to Tim Mountain, “The main bands we’re into… we’re huge fans of CRUD. CRUD has gotta be our favorite band.”

Dylan Kennedy also added however that they are into “Bon Jovi, Bonbon Jovi, Pon Swon Jovi, Don Jon Jovi, Fon Fon Jovi, Ron Don Jovi,  Foreigner, The Roller Stones, John Beatle,  The Beastie Boys, The Beach Boy Brothers, The Sex Pistons…”

To corroborate Dylan’s response, Sam Halpert Rodis said, “I’ve loved Bon Fon Pon Ron Don Jon Jovi ever since I saw him open for the Sex Pistons, I loved them all and the little dance he does onstage.”

However, like many prodigious and promising rock & roll super groups before them, Bad Susan is not without its problems. Mainly, these have been with the band’s clarinetist and tenor saxophonist, also a perennial bad boy, Kyle O’Connell.

“Kyle’s always showing up late,” said bassist Dylan Kennedy, and this seemed to be a recurrent answer among the band members.

In fact, this is their only problem. “Yeah… pretty much everyone just has a problem with Kyle, that’s it,” concluded Kennedy.

Kyle seemed comfortable with his status as the band’s resident rabble-rouser and troublemaker, and he couldn’t be happier with it.

The band is said to frequently enter in debates over issues that concern them, so to test this I asked the simple query: “Bigfoot, fact or fiction?”

Like wildfire, a lively exchange of opinions was immediately underway. The band fiercely debated many aspects of the issue: Tim Mountain argued for the protection of Big Foot’s rights. “I think everyone has the right to have whatever sized feet they want, it’s an intensely personal choice,” said Mountain.

Mountain also shared his own personal anecdote: “I have a friend, and he has big ol’ feet, and I’d be doing him wrong if I didn’t defend his right to have big feet.” The debate was quickly ended when self-declared best band member, Abby Koenig, simply said, “Fiction.”

Ever the devil-may-care bunch, Bad Susan frequently hangs out together as a group, especially after practices. Tim Mountain and Dylan Kennedy recall their carefree days in Community, Where Tim Mountain “invented a new type of baseball pitch: the grass ball.”

Though the group seems to have brought their absurdist mentality to their band’s music they (especially band’s matriarch, Abby Koenig) would like to remind the public that they are an entirely legitimate group.

“By the way we’re like, we’re actually a band. Just to let you know,” said Kyle O’Connell. “We’re a serious band.”

The band also would hope that the student body would make an effort to see any of the shows they are slated to appear in, although their show at the Superbowl Dome is currently sold out.