Soon to be legend: Empire


Kyra Featherstone

Ezra Utal (pianist), Aiden O’Reilly (lead guitarist), Ellis Lynch (drummer) Luca Stubbings (singer and guitarist) and Daniel Levitt (bassist) preform live at the Summers End Music Fest.

Many students at Archie Williams find passion in music and take part in student bands, music classes, and Archie Williams’ Performance Workshop class. The student band Empire has been jamming together for almost a decade, and music programs at Archie Williams fueled their success over recent years.

The band consists of five members, all past or present Archie Williams students; lead guitarist Aiden O’Reilly (2023 graduate), singer and supporting guitarist Luca Stubbings (senior), pianist Ezra Utal (senior), bass player Daniel Levitt (senior), and drummer Ellis Lynch (sophomore).

Luca Stubbings (left) and Daniel Levitt (right) play together live on Aug. 20 2022. (Kyra Featherstone)

Luca and Ezra started Empire in the fourth grade. The band’s name originates from the band’s elementary school Star Wars obsession. 

“Me and my friend, Luca Stubbings, have known each other since kindergarten, and we would play together randomly, and in fourth grade we thought we should start a real band, so we got together with a few other people,” Ezra said.

They play shows weekly; their on stage presence brings fluorescent energy to crowds at school events and in the local Fairfax, and San Anselmo town areas. The band’s long history brings a compelling energy to their shows, and much of the audience sways to their unique rhythms and style. 

 Continuing to bloom, they recently released their first album “Obstruction of Mail.” Most of Empire pursues music outside of school classes, Performance Workshop being the in-school music class the majority of the band shared. Ellis and Aiden both agree that the class nurtured Empire, giving them the ability to play together in school.

Aiden O’Reilly, lead guitarist, (left) and Luca Stubbings (right), share a connecting moment, while preforming live. (Kyra Featherstone)

“It’s nice to have music classes so that we can all congregate, and that definitely helped me, and the band get better,” Aiden said.

Inspiration flows freely in Empire  through their shared love of music. The members all are exceedingly dedicated to making music, and commitment is a given.

“We go on and off from practicing a lot… sometimes [practicing] every day for a few hours, or even four to five hours, but recently we have been doing two to three days a week … back to back eight to nine hour practices,” Daniel said.

Empire has faced challenges across the board. A common hurdle is their collective want to play bars, but nobody in the band is 21, so searching out venues has been a difficult task. In the local areas they tend to find a weekend spot in parks or small theaters.

 A beckoning future is another challenge for Empire: their lead guitarist, Aiden is graduating and heading to college across the country. While the band will continue playing without him, Luca and Ezra both hope they can follow his lead.

Luca Stubbings, guitarist and singer, plays an original song, during a live concert. (Kyra Featherstone)

“We are all meeting later today for a last supper type of thing before he leaves, we are all going to miss him a lot, but he’s on to better things, and hopefully we are gonna follow there too,” Luca said. “Me and Ezra are very interested in the school he’s going to, Berklee College of Music, so maybe he will pave our path for us.”

Empire has goals to move forward with their music, hoping to inspire young artists all around.

“Just go for it, find some people who you just like to be around and like to play music with and have fun. You don’t have to always sound good in the beginning, but keep playing with it and you get more comfortable and it will take off,” Ezra said.