Will Hoffmann leads the young pop-rock band Chatter


Will Hoffmann

Will Hoffmann plays guitar for Chatter, the band he leads.

After seeing rock videos online when he was younger, junior Will Hoffmann knew he wanted to learn the guitar.

Soon after, he started lessons at the Academy of Music, which he did for four years, starting off on an acoustic guitar and moving up to an electric one so that he could play the heavy rock metal songs that first sparked his interest.

Following this, he began lessons with someone who also teaches multiple other instruments. His teacher is the one who put together a band of students, Will included. When the band was first getting started, a lot of people were interested in them, and a lot of talk about them was going around. Thus, they were aptly named Chatter.

While the group wasn’t close at first, since the band was formed about a year ago, their bonds have grown much stronger.

“When we were first getting started, we didn’t know each other at all,” Will said, “so this whole past year has been us getting to know each other. And, I’ve definitely gotten closer with a lot of them [by] getting to know them as friends, seeing them every two weeks, and performing shows with them.”

They bond while going out for activities like bowling or games at Dave & Busters and even when rehearsing and performing together.

The band is made up of a variety of talents. Will plays guitar and sings. Unity Christian High School sophomore Ellie Brower sings and plays piano. East Grand Rapids High School freshman Tyler Vankuiken plays drums. East Grand Rapids Middle School eighth-grader Josh Nelson also plays guitar, and Lowell High School freshman Rowan Eldred plays bass.

They all work really hard. I’m very proud of all of them.

— Will Hoffman

“Ellie is definitely the best singer I have ever met,” Will said. “Josh is the youngest in the band, but his guitar-level ability is 10 times [better] than mine. He is crazy good at solos and is a great person to have around.”

Will is also the leader of Chatter. Some of his responsibilities in that role include communicating important information, keeping bandmates on track for learning songs, and planning rehearsals.

One of Will’s favorite things about being in this position is helping his bandmates improve.

“[Tyler’s] first song took him probably three months [to learn],” Will said, “and now, he’s getting songs down like ‘that’—within two weeks. That’s what’s really fun to see: progress that people make in the band, especially when you’re in a leadership role like me where you can guide people to those goals. And, they all work really hard. I’m very proud of all of them.”

Much of this progress that Will guides them through is learning the cover songs that Chatter performs. In addition to these, their set list also includes a few originals that the band works on together to create.

The band’s director helps generate the ideas and general rhythm of the songs alongside Rowan, who knows the most music theory in the band. From there, Will and Ellie work together on the lyrics.

In total, they have four original songs: “The Loud Ones,” “Sleep Paralysis,” “You’ll Never Love Me Like I Love You,” and “Satellites.”

“‘Loud Ones’ is a song about us coming together and writing our first original song,” Will said. “‘Satellites’ is more of a ballad-type song. It’s [about] being close with someone [and] having a deep connection with them.”

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Chatter is currently writing more music. They plan to release their songs sometime though they don’t know when yet.

With this process of songwriting and rehearsing comes the management behind the scenes that ensures everything runs smoothly. For the past year, Will has handled the organization and communication between Chatter’s bandmates, and from this, he’s grown as a leader.

“When I look back on myself a year ago, I didn’t know how to do any of this,” Will said, “and now, I’m like, ‘Okay, now I can communicate this, this, and this, and I can figure out what songs we want to rehearse for the certain rehearsals. It’s a lot more complicated when you have factors like all of the different schedules that everyone has. You have to piece it together. It’s kind of like a big puzzle.”

They have practices every two weeks that Will coordinates so that they can be ready for their performances. Their first show was at Lowell High School, and their biggest one yet is going to be at the Pyramid Scheme on May 13th.

Despite the nerves that come with performing, Will is grateful for the opportunities.

“There’s always that rush—the nervousness of getting on stage and performing,” Will said, “but it’s still a unique experience for me every time. In a stage environment where I’m performing in front of [others], usually, my mind is like, ‘Okay, please don’t mess up.’ I would usually say I’m nervous, but at the same time, I know the amount of work I’ve put into it. I’m just happy to show it off to everyone else.”