If you go to a lot of concerts at Bowdoin, you may have noticed the tall, red-haired drummer who is a staple in many campus bands: Jeb Polstein ’17. Polstein plays in the student bands Gotta Focus, Accept the Mystery, Duck Blind and Gibson 10—all of the upperclassman student bands on campus. 

Polstein’s love of percussion began when he received a tiny drum set when he was four years old. From there, he tried out cello in the school orchestra for a year before settling on drums in fourth grade. He was hooked on drums, and in seventh grade, he formed a band called Primate House with four of his friends at his home in New York.

Since then, he’s continued to play drums with a level of power, technique and creativity that has gained him recognition and has led to him becoming the most requested drummer at Bowdoin. This weekend, MacMillan House’s annual Halloween party was moved to Friday night so that Polstein could play with both Gibson 10 and Gotta Focus in their back-to-back performances.

“It’s cool that people think I’m good at drums and that they recognize that,” said Polstein. “It can sometimes be stressful though—just balancing things and knowing that I can’t devote as much time and energy to each group [as] would be ideal. I don’t really say no.”

Polstein’s thought process varies depending on the context in which he’s working and the style of music he is playing.    

“When I’m hearing a song for the first time, I’m obviously thinking a lot about what would sound cool. Sometimes my mind just wanders and I think about what’s for lunch,” said Polstein. “I’ll think about playing well, which sometimes works, but sometimes that messes you up—especially when you are recording, because of the pressure. You’re thinking ‘I have to play this note well.’ Sometimes you don’t think at all and that’s the best part, especially with jazz.” 

As far as style goes, Polstein’s versatile skills allow him to play a wide range of genres in different types of bands, from jazz to rock to metal to indie. 

“I feel like my style blends all those genres,” said Polstein. “I’m just trying to play things that people wouldn’t necessarily think to play.”

The types of student bands Polstein performs with is a further testament to his diversity of style. While Accept the Mystery has more of a hard rock and metal sound, Gibson 10 has a stronger jazz and rock sound. 

“One thing that really helps when you are working with [Polstein] is that is he picks up things so fast,” said Matt Leventhal ’17, Bowdoin Music Collective’s leader and Polstein’s band mate in Accept the Mystery. “He’ll often also throw out elements that I never would have thought sounded so good. He adds a lot of power and energy to songs.”

At Bowdoin, Polstein has been performing with Gotta Focus the longest—three years. Although indie and pop-rock—which the band plays the most—are not his favorite genres of music, he puts as much time and energy into Gotta Focus as any other, and his band mates value his dedication.

“I very much appreciate his feedback and everyone respects his opinion because he’s, not even arguably, the best musician in the band,” said Leo Levine ’17, Polstein’s band mate in Gotta Focus. “He’s the most amazing drummer I’ve ever worked with. He’s so, so good.