The Diamond Marching Band’s banner year
“Picture everyone in their underwear” is common advice given to nervous performers and public speakers. But it might not have been helpful for members of the Diamond Marching Band, who had to perform—in their underwear—in front of some of Hollywood’s biggest names.
Last winter, 25 members of the band traveled to New York City to shoot a scene for the new, Martin-Scorsese-directed film The Wolf of Wall Street, out Dec. 25. That scene depicts main character Jordan Belfort—played by Leonardo DiCaprio—holding an over-the-top celebration in his office, complete with gymnasts and dancing waiters.
“Belfort hired them to play in uniform, but one of his employees saw them in the hall and offered them more to wear less,” says Matthew Brunner, director of athletic bands. He added that though that scene was not in Belfort’s memoir (on which the film is based), once Scorsese heard the story, he included it in the film.
For the band’s participation, Brunner was contacted by Sandra Park, music coordinator for The Wolf of Wall Street and other films such as No Country for Old Men, The Aviator and The Departed. “She heard about us from a friend of a friend,” Brunner explained. “She asked if we could come up to do it.”
Despite the unusual nature of that performance, Brunner stressed to the students that it was still serious work. “I told them that this was big-time,” he noted. “I said, ‘It’s fun, but it’s also huge for us. If we do it well, we might be asked to do it again.’”
Their professionalism paid off, leading to another film appearance. The band traveled back to New York Dec. 2 to film a scene in the remake of Annie, produced by Jay Z, Will Smith and James Lassiter, CLA '87, and starring Jamie Foxx.
Brunner was surprised at how involved the band was in the scene and how much the stars interacted with them. “Between takes, Jamie Foxx would ask the band to play something,” Brunner said. “He asked, ‘Do you know any [Dr.] Dre?’ It just so happens that we did, and he was dancing around right in the middle of the band.”
These high-profile appearances round out a semester filled with national recognition for the band. Earlier this fall, the group performed live on ABC’s Good Morning America. Less than a week later, Rolling Stone magazine called the band’s performance of Kanye West’s “All of the Lights” one of the top “10 Mind-Blowing College Marching Band Cover Songs.” And one of the band’s first performances of 2013, a cover of Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up),” earned praise directly from that group.
“The students have really spirited personalities, and I think that shines through in our performances,” Brunner said. “They enjoy themselves and they have fun. People have picked up on that, and everything has gone from there.”
Temple’s Diamond Marching Band appears briefly in this trailer of The Wolf of Wall Street.