Back at their home on Russell Street, Late Night Thoughts members Michael Harlow ’19 and Brian Rauch ’19 can be found writing lyrics for their next hit single. The pair often writes and rehearses in one of the common rooms, which they have equipped with a drum set, keyboard, bass, guitar and PA system. To them, music has always played an important part in their lives, but it wasn’t until coming to Brandeis that they strove to become professional musicians and became one of the most popular bands on campus. 

Harlow and Rauch came from different places in their lives before meeting in person. Harlow was expelled from private school for disobeying authority, after which he was sent to a public college preparatory school in Newton, Massachusetts. He continued to find difficulty in the meaning behind most of his schoolwork, and he even doubted his own musical abilities by comparing himself to his older brother, who attended Oberlin Conservatory of Music for jazz piano. 

In the meantime, Rauch felt immense pressure from his community in Scarsdale, New York to be the perfect candidate for top-tier colleges, which instilled discipline and resolve in him. He applied to Brandeis for the small class sizes and social justice initiative, but what he was really hoping for was to be a walk-on baseball player. Harlow said in an interview with the Justice, “[Rauch] is a huge baseball fan. He knows everything about the major league teams.” Unfortunately, playing college baseball was not Rauch’s calling. After getting cut from the team, Rauch quickly turned his attention to his second passion — music.  

Rauch took a music class that Harlow was also attending. The class,  Protest Through Song: Music that Shaped America, taught by Prof. Paula Musegades [AMST and MUS], gave Harlow and Rauch the perfect chance to meet. The pair quickly became friends, and eventually, they would go on to form the indie folk pop band Late Night Thoughts. 

Between music and schoolwork, Harlow and Rauch certainly had their fair share of late night thoughts. Oftentimes they spent hours a night writing and rehearsing, even excluding the time spent in the Getz Sound Studio or the countless hours of singing in both chorus and one of Brandeis’ acapella groups, Starving Artists. In addition to LNT, Rauch takes singing lessons, and Harlow organizes Stein Night, a chance for student performers to share their work at The Stein. Rauch says, “It was very hard to run basically a business where you are the product while also being a student.” 

Indeed, there was another factor made balancing schoolwork and music even more difficult for Harlow and Rauch. The two have Attention Deficit Disorder and it’s affected them their entire lives. Harlow said, “Both of us grew up struggling with ADD and distraction and being told that being distracted was a bad thing.” For Rauch, keeping up with music and schoolwork needs to be done by taking one concern at a time. As soon as he focuses his attention to one thing, he gets fixated on it. 

Grappling with ADD and schoolwork pushed Harlow and Rauch to focus on their love of music. The two enjoy writing about their experiences at Brandeis, including a song called “Sky Focus,” which is about their struggles with ADD. They’ve also written songs that recount happier times, including “Diamond in the Rough” and “What Love Truly Means” both of which Rauch’s girlfriend, a recent Brandeis graduate, has had a large impact on. 

Their dedication and hard work were put to the test last year when they auditioned for BEAM, Basement Records and the Campus Activities Board’s first digital talent search for the opening act at Springfest. After sending a YouTube video of a previous performance, Late Night Thoughts received the honor to perform as the opening act for A$AP Ferg. Looking back on the incredible experience, Rauch said, “It was a rush. It felt amazing to be up there and to know that we created something that people are going to remember.” Harlow added, “Just being able to perform a song about what had happened to us at the school to the people we had shared it with was very incredible and a unique experience.” Their fans—referred to as the Late Night Thoughts Family (LNT Fam)—were heard chanting “Late Night Thoughts” while singing along with Harlow and Rauch, a truly remarkable experience. 

Since then, Harlow and Rauch have been working on their EP, Worth It. which will be performed on May 18 at the Charles River Commons. Their careers have been filled with business meetings, creative meetings, marketing, singing, songwriting and performing, but the two are ready for the journey with open arms. Looking back on their time at Brandeis, Harlow says, “We’ll miss the people the most. I’ll miss being in a place that by design puts you next to other amazing human beings of your age and interests. The real world just doesn’t do that.”