Tech by Day, Rock by Night


For some, music is a job. For most others, it’s an escape at the end of the workday. For Andy Bauer, BBA ’08, it’s both. By day, Bauer manages a software support team in Marin Software’s downtown Austin office. At night, he’s shredding his Gibson Les Paul onstage at Hotel Vegas and Beerland with his garage-punk band A Giant Dog. The Alcalde talked with Bauer about his time at Texas, what his coworkers think of his alter ego, and the band’s upcoming performance at the 10th-annual Fun Fun Fun Fest.

Alcalde: When were you at UT and what did you study?

Andy Bauer: I was there from 2005-08, and I studied management information systems.

Did you consider majoring in music?

I did music as electives, but I had my more practical degree while I was there.

What does “management information systems” mean to the layperson?

It’s basically a business degree with a technology focus. It was a lot about databases and data management and how to build software.

Were you playing in rock bands while at UT? 

I thought music was like skateboarding. You do that in high school and then you quit and grow up. But it turns out you don’t actually have to do that.

No, I wasn’t able to find anyone to start a band with while I was at UT. But I played cello—that’s how I got my start learning music. I took cello lessons as an elective and some other classes through Butler. It was a good way to forget that you have to do a bunch of hard classes.

Such as?

Learning how databases talk to each other and talk to software, project management classes, strategic technology classes. I took a class on predicting the future one time.

Was it called Predicting the Future?

[Laughs.] Kind of! It was something like, Predicting the Future of Technology. There were some interesting ways to analyze current trends and see where specific industries were heading.

While you were in school, did you know this is what you wanted to do or did you have the dream to play music full-time?

I got lucky; it came back to me. I thought music was like skateboarding. You do that in high school and then you quit and grow up. But it turns out you don’t actually have to do that. After college, my friends from high school moved to Austin and we started A Giant Dog. I thought music was something of the past and I was moving on from that, but actually it snuck its way back in and I’ve been doing it ever since.

How long has A Giant Dog been playing?

Since 2008, right when I finished school. Our lead singer Sabrina [Ellis] moved from New York, she had been doing experimental theater at NYU, and our other songwriter Andrew Cashen, he was at school at Texas State, so he and Sabrina teamed up and started writing all the songs. One thing just led to another.

How do you manage having these two facets to your life? How do you get off work to go on tour?

It’s a balance. You really have to be committed to both things to make it work. When we started the band I was holding down a full-time job and playing shows two to four times a week. It’s pretty busy, but you make it work. I tell people I work with, you gotta work really hard at one in order to do the other, and vice versa.

What has your career arc looked like? Did you follow your degree path?

Music is the thing that has nothing to do with what I studied. In my day job I manage a software support team, so that’s directly related to the MIS program. I got out of school and started working in tech support for a software company. I moved up to technology consulting, and then moved up again to support management.

Do people at work know that at night you’re in a rock band?

Yeah. I have to kind of play it coy so I don’t seem like I have compromised goals, you could say. I try to pursue them both separately, but everyone is pretty much aware of it.

Everyone knows Andy is going on tour.

Yeah. Working in software, people think it’s pretty cool.

It seems like a mild-mannered job. Do you have an onstage persona that breaks from that?

It’s definitely an outlet for me. I think I might go crazy working full-time if I didn’t have a musical creative outlet. It’s really important. Onstage versus in the office, it’s a totally different world.

What’s next for the band?

We’re really looking forward to Fun Fun Fun Fest. I think it’s one of the best festivals in the country. We’re still an up-and-coming band, and we’re slowly playing more festivals. We did one in Portland, and it doesn’t really count, but we did the X-Games, and now Fun Fun Fun Fest. It’s three great opportunities. We also have the third album recorded. Fight and Bone were released in 2012 and 2013. The next album is ready to go, and it is expected to be released in May.

[Editor’s note: One day after our interview, news broke that A Giant Dog signed to Merge records. The band plays Fun Fun Fun Fest on November 7.]

Photo by Steven Ruud.


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