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From rocks to rockstars

Hailey Nelsen, Staff Reporter - February 13, 2013

There is more than meets the eye with Winston Norrish and Robert Lupton.

The two Central Washington University faculty members are professors by day, and rock stars by night.

January 2012 marked the moment the band Norrish Reaction assembled. Prior to the creation, Lupton and Norrish played together in Rusted Souls.

Norrish, a geology professor for six years at Central, is the band’s guitarist, singer and songwriter.

“Winston writes the lyrics of the songs and is a great guitar player, but when you listen to his words you go, ‘Wow, I get it,” Lupton said.

Lupton, a professor in information technology and administrative management, has worked at Central for 13 years and is the drummer for Norrish Reaction. Casper Van Haalen, a Seattle resident, plays the bass. There are also appearances from Central grad Lenny Price, a saxophone and keyboard musician, and Lupton’s daughter, Alexandra, who plays the keyboard, drums and percussion on their self-titled album.

Lupton and his daughter collaborated on writing the song “March on Egypt” on the CD.

The name of the band refers to Norrish, but was also inspired by an organic chemistry scientist, Ronald George Wreyford Norrish.

Both “are scientists,” Lupton said. “Norrish writes great music, and there is a reaction, and so we came up with the Norrish Reaction. [It] captures the science and the music.”

Their self-titled CD, “Norrish Reaction” was released in the Summer of 2012, and has since spread around the world. Songs from the CD can be heard in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Central Europe as well as in the United States.

Lupton’s family had three to four generations of musicians in the family. He had a strong urge to play music, but prioritized education, obtaining four degrees.

“I love music but I knew I’d better get my education,” Lupton said.

Norrish fell in love with the guitar at a young age.

“I’ve been playing music longer than anything else,” Norrish said. “It’s personal, and I feel like I have a lot invested.”

Norrish Reaction recorded their album at London Bridge Studio with producer Geoff Ott. Ott has worked with bands such as Alice in Chains, Nickelback, 3 Doors Down,
Queensryche, and Coldplay.

Norrish Reaction meets and records once or twice a week and is currently preparing for their new album.

“We are in it for the passion to share music,” Lupton said.

The music produced by Norrish Reaction has a “Seattle-inspired” alternative rock feel, according to Lupton.

The song “Let it Go” contains a deeper meaning and message, and is one of Lupton’s favorite songs on the album.

“Our producer didn’t like the beat and drums, and we spent a week reworking it, and finally Winston said, ‘Let it go, I want to keep it the way it is,” Lupton said.

Norrish Reaction is a studio project with no live performances. The band plans on performing in Europe during Summer 2014, but also wants to build a live show and media presence while getting people to listen to the music.

“You don’t do it for the fame or money, you do it because you love music and you want to share it with the people,” Lupton said.

Balancing student assignments, lecture plans and musical rehearsals is no challenge for Lupton and Norrish. The band has given the two a new way of teaching.

“Teaching and playing music are the best jobs in the world,” Lupton said. “I will never give up music; I’ve been a professional musician for 40 years and teaching is about entertaining the students. I can go into the classroom and talk about complex topics but make it so that the students enjoy it.”

Letting the students relate more to a professor can help create a fun learning experience, and encourage a fresh outlook on their instructor.

“I don’t sing in class, but it is fun and I enjoy it when students find out I do this,” Norrish said. “It’s nice for the students to see a different side of me.”

Norrish Reaction’s advice for upcoming or current musicians is simple:

“Have passion and purpose and enjoy the journey,” Lupton said. “If you have it, the money and fame will follow.”

The band is in the process of working on a second album.

“It’s been an incredible experience so far,” Norrish said. “We are looking forward to doing more. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to do it.”

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