by Joe Schwartz
Whether at Carter-Finley Stadium or at home watching on television, most people who saw last night's N.C. State-South Carolina season opener probably thought the 7-3 game was a snoozer. But they didn't watch the game with Beaux Foy and Taylor Traversari of Raleigh quintet Airiel Down.
The pair took a break from recording and touring to witness the debut of their reworking of the N.C. State fight song—a faster, screaming-vocals version that will be played all year as the Wolfpack takes the field—amid 60,000 fans in red.
"They came to us and said there's just a lack of electricity at the start of games," Foy said from his front-row end zone seat, referring to N.C. State's athletics marketing department. "They wanted to make it modern and hard-hitting."
"It's got to appeal to 60- and 70-year-old alums and also to 18-year-old freshman. The song was written in 1923 and we had to try to do something that's not cheesy. It was a daunting task, but we said, 'Let's just play it loud and fast, brother.'"
Though the PA wasn't quite loud enough to do the song justice, Foy and Traversari enjoyed the limelight all evening. They slapped fives with players as they emerged from the lockers and out of the smoke. Heck, they slapped fives with everyone near them—fans, band directors, former offensive coordinators, anyone within arm's length.
Longtime Wolfpack fans might appreciate that Airiel Down kept the traditional lyrics of "come over the hill, Carolin(a/e)" instead of the more modern," go to hell, Carolin(a/e)." Younger folks might enjoy the song's tempo and flair. Download it here, and be prepared to be at least slightly shaken or stunned. For a making-of video, watch this.
Neither Foy nor Traversari went to N.C. State, but they've embraced Raleigh as their home. They recorded a similar song for the Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the year and have plans to perform the national anthem at an N.C. State game later this season.
Provided the logistics of setting up a stage, rocking a show and clearing out in time for the second half are worked out, they will also perform at halftime of the Nov. 7 Homecoming game or the final match up against UNC.
"We support any and all things North Carolina," Foy said. "Everywhere we go, we're proud to be a North Carolina band. We're not a New York band. We're not an LA band. We're not moving to LA. We're an N.C. band, and we're proud of that fact."
N.C. State will continue to play Airiel Down's song, "Gunslinger," at every halftime. Foy sang along with himself last night, throwing rock and roll hand gestures at every chance. He also offered advice on life, love and sport with every play. That's available after the jump. [Editor's note: Trust us on this one. Make the jump.]
On a missed tackle: "Sometimes you only get one shot in the music business, in life, whatever. In tackling you get one shot. You make that fucking tackle."
On a big hit: "That's why you go to a football game. You want to see someone get knocked the fuck out."
On the pep band: "Tuba players are the rock stars, dude."
On the crowd: "Love life, love music, love sport, love people. Music brings everybody together. Sport brings everybody together. It's great. Embrace it."
And that they did.