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Rocking the Vote

Roby Hopkins of Columbia band Mile 48 talks about politics and using music to inspire youth to vote
Sunday, October 3, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:00 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The artist:

Roby Hopkins plays bass in the Columbia band Mile 48, which also features guitarist and singer Scott White and drummer Josh Jaynes. Hopkins, a member of the Missouri National Guard, is stationed in Dugway, Utah, on a security mission.

The art:

Mile 48 is an acoustic rock band that has been compared to pop artists such as Counting Crows and the Goo Goo Dolls. Mile 48 performs songs about topics that are particularly appealing to college students, such as relationships and money. The band writes all of their own music. Typically, White will come to the band with the foundation of a song and everyone collaborates to make it the best it can be. In early September, Hopkins was home for a brief time and Mile 48 performed at Mojo’s. They coordinated with Rock the Vote to hold a voter-registration drive at the show.

Q.

How did Mile 48 get together?

A.

Mile 48 came together because of a mutual friend named Scott McBee. McBee and White were friends from high school in St. Joseph. They both went off to college, where McBee was matched up with Josh Jaynes for a roommate in the dorms. McBee then introduced Jaynes and White, and they began playing together as a duo. About a year later, McBee joined the National Guard. We actually met on a plane while we were both on our way to basic training in South Carolina. We became good friends, and he introduced me to White and Jaynes when we both got home. After they heard me play bass, they asked me to join the band.

Q.

What effect has your being away had on the band?

A.

It has been really hard on the band. Because of my deployment, Mile 48 was put on hold for a year. This actually caused a lot of tension in the band because White and Jaynes aren’t in the Army but had to suffer because of it. It has been hard because we have not been able to play live shows. This makes it impossible to get our name out and gain recognition within the music scene.

Q.

Why did you do a voter-registration drive?

A.

We decided to hold the voter registration drive because we realize that there are a lot of young people in Columbia that are not registered. In this time, we have all seen what the importance of voting is. If you do not speak out, you won’t be heard.

Q.

How did you get it organized?

A.

Actually, I went to mtv.com and clicked on their Rock the Vote link. I sent an e-mail to them asking what I could do to set up a drive. About a week later I received an e-mail from a Rock the Vote organizer from St. Louis. He then connected me to Blake Ogilvie, a Columbia Rock the Vote organizer, and we worked together to set it up. He provided volunteers, and they pretty much ran the whole thing, with a little help from my girlfriend.

Q.

Have you become more political since you’ve joined the service?

A.

Definitely. Because I have been deployed, and what I have seen through many of my friends getting deployed, I began to realize that people in office will affect the lives of many young people. If we do not speak up and vote and get others to vote, then we can’t complain about the decisions made by those in office. It is very important to take an active part in politics. Otherwise, nothing will get done.

Q.

What are Mile 48’s long-term goals?

A.

Mile 48 plans to move to Chicago in the next couple of years to try to make a bigger name for ourselves. Everyone in the band’s goal is to become professional musicians. It is not about becoming rock stars or being on MTV; it is about the music. We all want to become the best we can at our instruments and hopefully widen the knowledge of our music. We want to make a career out of it.

Q.

What, if anything, do you hope people take from your music?

A.

We hope that when people listen to our music, maybe it will make them feel better and happier. We hope that they will just have a great time and want to share that with their friends and family.


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