Every morning, Connor Fiehler, sophomore, rolls out of bed and pedals the half-mile trek to KHS on his bike. He sits through English, French, chemistry, precalculus—all honors—and AP US History. When the school day is over, he hops back on his bike, goes home and does his homework. He answers the many infuriating questions on Mr. Becker’s assignments on Quia. His pencil marks up page after page of every precalculus homework packet, every chapter in the AMSCO AP US History textbook and every page of his French activity booklet. By day, Fiehler is a studious teenager. But the rest of his free time is dedicated to his passion.
“I took a trip to Memphis, Tennessee when I was in [seventh grade],” Fiehler said. “[I saw] blues musicians and what they were doing with their instruments, and I wanted to do that, too.”
Fiehler has been playing instruments all his life, but never played an instrument seriously until his trip to Memphis. When he returned home, Fiehler remembers playing random melodies for hours upon hours on his parents’ old Fender Stratocaster, which they purchased from an auction. Ever since that moment, he said it’s been hard to put down a guitar.
Merely five months after his trip to Memphis, he had developed such an interest in music that he joined School of Rock. Music was already far more than a hobby to Fiehler—it was a career for him as early as seventh grade. Fiehler’s musical prowess landed his band within School of Rock gigs at high profile venues in St. Louis like the Old Rock House, The Ready Room and the recently closed Cicero’s restaurant. It was at School of Rock that Fiehler picked up bass guitar as his main instrument. His experience with the bass guitar at School of Rock inspired him to try and connect music to his academic pursuits. He joined the jazz band in eighth grade, but ultimately found it wasn’t right for him. So he stayed with School of Rock until fall 2016, but he didn’t know his experience there would take him yet another significant step forward in his musical career.
In November 2016, Gabriel Jackson, Zander Hayes and Sean Buchert, three Webster University students founded Thames, a St. Louis-based alternative rock band. Jackson, sophomore, is the lead vocalist and guitarist; Hayes, sophomore is a guitarist and synth player and Buchert, junior, is the drummer. But the fledgling band felt something was missing. They were in search of a bass guitarist. Luckily, Jackson knew of a connection through School of Rock directly to Fiehler.
“We called [Fiehler] up and asked him to come down and jam with us and we were impressed,” Jackson said. “He fit in the first second he was with us.”
As Fiehler moved into his sophomore year, his workload increased, making it harder to find time for practice. While his band doesn’t practice without all the members present, personal practice is limited.
“[I can only spend] about 10 or 12 hours [a week] practicing,” Fiehler said. “But when you love something as much as I love music, you can always make time for it.”
Thames has opened for acts like Vesperteen and Ian Moore, and they hope to continue opening for similar high profile acts in order to secure their own position of popularity. But the question that scared them all was what they would do about Fiehler. Being in high school and without the ability to drive, it seemed difficult for him to do anything outside St. Louis. Why would Thames perform if their key member wasn’t there? Hayes believes the absence of Fiehler would render the purpose of their music invalid.
“We were all the kids who did nothing but sit in their room, listen to music, and play the guitar,” Hayes said. “We want our music to impact people the same way other music has impacted us, and we can’t do that without Connor.”