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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

PRIVATE SCHOOL: From best friends to band mates


Photo by Courtesy of Tom Oeffling

Tom Oeffling and Caiden Dohr rock out at one of PRIVATE SCHOOL’s gigs.

Growing up in Johnsburg, IL, Tom Oeffling, a first-year in the College of Education, thought that nobody else had the dream of starting a band in his “sleepy Middle American town.” 

Fast forward to the summer before his sophomore year of high school, when Caiden Dohr — Oeffling’s best friend and future bandmate — moved to Johnsburg with a shared love for music. 

“Over the summer, I met this dude who was wearing a ‘JPEG Mafia’ shirt. I’d never seen anyone wearing one before, so I went up to him to talk to him about it,” Oeffling said. “[Later on], Caiden’s mom talked [to my parents] and said she thought we’d get along. I talked to my dad a few days later and he told me about Caiden, but I was like, ‘I think I’ve already met him.’ Sure enough, it was the same guy. We’ve been best friends ever since.”

The two now make up PRIVATE SCHOOL,” a self-described “loud, shoegaze-esque punk band” with a handful of musical inspirations: everything from “Yo La Tengo” to “My Bloody Valentine.”

“[The band] started out of desperation because Tommy and I were looking for stuff to do since we both play instruments. We were like, ‘okay, we’ve been playing together for six months now, we’ve got to get the ball rolling,’” Dohr said. “PRIVATE SCHOOL just became a creative outlet that we could throw everything we want into.”

Oeffling and Dohr have released two albums as PRIVATE SCHOOL: “RADIO CURE” and “we’re an american band.” Their latest release, “RADIO CURE,” came out in July 2022 and was the final album they collaborated on before Oeffling began attending Marquette and Dohr took a gap year to go on tour, under the stage name “Dayfire Avenue.”

“Caiden and I always say that we work together so well it’s borderline insane. That’s why you have to be friends first and then make a band,” Oeffling said. “I always say Caiden writes songs I could never write and vice versa. We keep each other in check; it’s very much a duo. There’s no ‘Simon and Garfunkel’ complex.”

Since Oeffling began school back in August, the two have each released independent albums, Oeffling’s titled “The Subtle Art of Jaywalking” and Dohr’s titled “Sleepless in Middle America.

“The summer leading into college, we decided we were going to do PRIVATE SCHOOL in the summertimes from now on. Right now, we’re both working on different things,” Dohr said. “PRIVATE SCHOOL is more alternative, for sure. My stuff is more lo-fi and messy.”

While Dohr and Oeffling agreed that they have enjoyed creating their own music over the past few months, moving to college has been an adjustment for Oeffling, who said he is excited to continue working on music with Dohr soon. Both artists have talked about bringing PRIVATE SCHOOL to Marquette for some performances in the future.

It’s been weird, I’m not hanging out with my best friend anymore and I miss him,” Oeffling said. “He’s out touring right now, and I’m going to school here, so we’re just so excited to get back together again. I’m writing the third album now, which we split half and half. ”

Despite being states apart, Dohr said that he hopes his and Oeffling’s story inspires other young creators to make art that they’re proud of.

“We both want to tell people to ‘just go for it’ you know? We started [PRIVATE SCHOOL] just wanting to be a band, and so we made a band. It’s cool to see people our age do that,” Dohr said. ”There should be a lot more people just being creative and making music.”

This story was written by Will Eikenbary. They can be reached at [email protected]

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Will Eikenbary, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

Will is an Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor at the Wire. They are a sophomore from Omaha, NE studying digital media, advertising and philosophy.


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