Kier Byrnes '87
What grades did you attend Pike?
I was late to the Pike party. I was only there for 8th and 9th grades, but the friends I made there are still some of my closest friends.
What did you gain by staying for Pike 9?
A lot. I was pretty quiet in 8th grade but in 9th grade at Pike, I came out of my shell. Maybe attribute that to the smaller class size or the Chewonki trip. At the end of the year I was very shocked (and somewhat embarrassed) to win "Most Popular" in the yearbook. As there were only roughly 12 guys in my class, it doesn't say that much but it was a nice surprise. I really wanted to win class clown but my friend Nick LaPierre took that honor. To this day I go back and forth with Nick requesting for a recount.
Where did you go after Pike?
Brooks- What did you enjoy most at Brooks? A particular class? An area of study?
What drew me to Brooks was the small class size that I experienced at Pike. It's an amazing place and I am grateful for the opportunity my parents gave me to be able to study there.
Holy Cross- Area of study? Degree?
I was a Biology major at Holy Cross but with all the music courses I took as electives, I should have tried for a double major in retrospect. After Holy Cross, I got my MBA and later, a doctorate in Law and Policy at Northeastern. I don't consider myself an academic though; I just like to know enough to be dangerous.
Tell me about you and your band, Three Day Threshold? How long have you been together?
Many years now. I can't believe I still play music and count my blessings for the opportunities I have had and each new opportunity that comes up.
What type of music/musician inspires you?
I'm the kind of guy who will listen to just about anything.
Musicians who work hard and are organized inspire me.
What was it like to perform at the Country Music Hall of Fame?
It was surreal. I was honored just be in that hallowed space. On a side note, I ran into Stan Lee and Henry Winkler just before the performance. As a big comic book fan, I was star struck. I was also surprised about how small The Fonz was in person.
You've opened for several well-known country bands. Do you have a favorite band or experience from the road?
Ha, I don't know if a lot of them are fit for the Quill, but we have had some crazy rides. I've played with national acts of many different genres over the years; Zac Brown Band, Avett Brothers, Social Distortion even Quiet Riot. We have played in 19 different countries, including a USO trip to the Middle East for the troops. Once we even played a Johnny Cash style gig at a Belgian prison. One of my favorite personal trips however, was getting flown out to the Clermont, Kentucky to perform at the house of Fred Noe, great grandson and Master Distiller of Jim Beam.
You've won many awards including "Best Local Band" by Boston Magazine and "Best Stage Presence" by WBZ TV A&E. Is there an award/accomplishment that you are particularly proud of?
That we made it through that weekend at Fred Noe's place. He had us sampling his personal collection of bourbon and it was amazing.
On another note- You're a dad! What's that like?!
It's an awesome ride. It's like I see the world in a whole new color now and it's wonderful. Fortunately working late nights and being a bit sleep deprived is common in the music industry, so I was all warmed up to deal with the lack of sleep inherent in child raising. And yes, when he gets older, I'm hoping to send him to Pike.
Back to Pike-
Do you still keep in contact with any classmates?
Absolutely. Some of my closest friends are from Pike. Nick LaPierre, Amy Lundstrom, Ben Latham, Steve Scully, Jason Gesing, Constantine Valhouli and Beej Das to name a few.
What is your favorite memory from Pike? Any faculty members stick out in your mind?
So many great memories from there. I loved Mr. Hopkins, our English teacher. Mrs. Bhan for history, Miss Smith for French, Mrs. Steinbrink for Science, Mrs. Logan and Mr. Frothingham for math and Mr. Morris for when I got in trouble. All great people, I liked them very much. My friend and classmate, Mark Cavalaro actually was the first person to teach me guitar, so in a way, I have him to blame/thank for my career in the music industry.
What do you think is the most significant knowledge, skill, or value you retained from your Pike experience?
Though I may have groaned a bit about it, I'm glad Pike had a summer reading list. It kicked my butt into reading a ton of books. And, I'm really glad I did as most of the books I read have now been made into movies and I can smugly say that the book was better in conversations with my friends. HA! I also loved participating in the sports teams. I had never played organized hockey or soccer before Pike. Now, I wish I still did!
How has your Pike experience contributed to your success today?
In all seriousness, one of the biggest takeaways from my time at Pike was gaining confidence to try things and when I failed, the strength to get back up and try again. It also provided me with a unparalleled support group of peers whom I'm lucky enough to still call to this day my friends.
And finally, is there anything else you'd like to mention?
Seriously, if someone could recount those class clown votes. No way was Nick that funny.