FULL BIOS

THE BOARD OF

DIRECTORS

The Board of Directors (or Board for short) are the (mostly) fearless leaders behind the Couch Covers project.

 

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DIR. CHENYRD T. FLAKES 

Chief Executive Officer

Chen Flakes grew up in Saginaw, MI and has had a love/hate relationship with music. Starting in piano lessons at a young age, he quickly detested the instrument and stopped after a couple years. He tried picking up music again in middle school, on the saxophone, but failed his high school band class. Eventually, Chen learned rhythm thanks to the video game “Dance Dance Revolution.” He began programming his own songs for Dance Dance Revolution and editing music with his favorite artists. This opened up a door that led toward learning guitar his senior year of high school, starting a Blink-182 cover band, and quickly realizing his distinct love for music. After jumping from band to band, he founded Another October in 2012.

Relocating to Grand Rapids, MI to pursue music and push Another October was a bear, and in 2016, after several years within the pop-punk band, the group almost disbanded. Unsure how to fill the vacant spots, Chen Flakes started Couch Covers as an outlet to meet other musicians. Little did he know it would grow into the behemoth it is today.

Couch Covers began in the basement of his home where he would record and produce Couch Covers, often working 20+ hours a day to meet the constant deadlines. Eventually, he would grow his team to create the outstanding management team Couch Covers has today. Chen made his Couch Covers debut in Season 9’s “Dance To This”. The video featured his students, and the team felt this was the right time to begin inserting Chen into videos. In his free time, Chen manages his clothing line, AO Apparel, operates a recording studio, and teaches private lessons. He still finds time to squeeze in Dance Dance Revolution.

As CEO, Chen handles most day to day functions, focuses on expansion, and works diligently to grow the team.

 

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DIR. ACHILLES KIRKIKIS 

Chief Operating Officer

Achilles’s musical background started with the purchase of a cool-looking bass guitar to impress girls and his friends. He was terrible. He joined a church, started on the worship team, and began learning quite a bit about music. His skills eventually increased, and he has yet to stop exploring music! Achilles believes the band “Between the Buried and Me‬” is the best musical endeavor of all time and hopes to bring their influences into the future of Couch Covers. Achilles’s main instruments are electric guitars and basses, but thanks to Couch Covers, he has started doing vocals!

Achilles is originally from Montrose, MI, Outside of Couch Covers, Achilles is a part-time Youth Pastor and full-time Commercial Demolition worker. Achilles found out about Couch Covers from an old Myspace friend who was in a local pop punk band, Chen Flakes. Achilles made his debut in Season 2 of Couch Covers.
 

One of Achilles’s all-time favorite moments of Couch Covers was when Couch Covers decided to do a metal cover of ‪Mariah Carey's ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’.  Everyone really got into the song, even though it was probably one of the oddest songs anyone could make a Couch Cover for. He was also a huge fan of “Real Friends” and “These Days.”

As the Chief of Operations, Achilles manages most of the Board of Directors and overseas operational tasks such as hiring and firing, training, and onboarding.

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DIR. JASON CAUDILL  

Director of Cinematography

Jason Caudill started experimenting with instruments and audio recording around the age of 13 in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Mi. He would eventually get serious about guitar a few years later and help form his touring band “Sleep Waker”. Jason’s favorite music artists are ‪Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Silent Planet, and Tesseract.

Jason joined Couch Covers during Season 3 as the head of Cinematography. Their primary video team had a scheduling conflict and Jason was on-boarded in the night before the shoot by Chen Flakes. It was great timing because Jason was entering the world of cinematography during the early days of Couch Covers and has helped Chen shape and form the videos into what they are today.

Jason’s most memorable Couch Covers was his first day. He was unsure what to expect and experienced an extreme 12 hour day of shooting. However, it was worth the work in the end as almost every member of the team “commented on how excited [everyone] was to see the updated footage quality after I joined. I still think about that day often!”

Jason leads the video production team with his wealth of experience and expertise in cinematography. Jason serves as the resident-expert on all things camera and production related.

 

 

 

 

 

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DIR. JUSTIN RILEY

Director of Presentation

 

Justin is a straight-edge musician from Howell, Michigan. He has written and released albums for a handful of projects all over the state. After a brief hiatus of music, Justin has started playing shows and has no plan for slowing down anytime soon. Justin’s strong go-to genres of music include hardcore, punk, alternative, and indie. Justin has a strong emotional connection to hardcore specifically as it’s been the driving force for his positive growth for nearly a decade now.

Justin began Couch Covers after being approached by Dir. Chen Flakes to perform in “On My Teeth” by Underoath. Their goal was to make “new Underoath sound like old Underoath”. Just was promoted directly after shooting his video. As a Project Manager for Couch Covers, Justin’s primary instruments are vocals and guitar. Justin also operates cameras, photographs behind-the-scenes, and assists with cosmetology.

Justin’s favorite experience with Couch Covers was working with his team from Season 11 where they introduced Couch Covers to hardcore music. He could not believe how easily everything came together. He made a lot of close friends during Season 11 where his team would tackle “Happier” by Bastille.

As head Director of Presentation, Justin handles everything from wardrobe approval to cosmetology. You will find him leading the teams during the hair and makeup and appearance approval step of production.

 

DIR. RYAN ROOSSIEN 

Director of Logistics

Ryan was born and raised in and around Grand Rapids, MI. He began his music career later in life, starting bass at 18 and shortly moved onto drums. Ryan has always liked progressive rock and is often found jamming with other members of the team.

Ryan joined the team when Dir. Chen Flakes approached him to be a part of Season 5. The two had been friends for some time and Dir. Flakes wanted to bring Ryan onto the team. However, due to a car accident, Ryan was not able to join until Season 6 here he was part of the epic metal version of “All I Want For Christmas is You”. Ryan has been a crucial Project Manager of the team ever since and brings his unique rock flare to his Couch Covers.

His favorite experience has been another holiday-themed video of “Last Christmas” by Wham from Season 11. Ryan had the opportunity to work directly with Dir. Flakes to make a unique blend of rock and metal. Ryan loved being able to rock out with Dir. Flakes as they had yet to collaborate on a musical project. 

As the Director of Logistics, Ryan overseas both Audition and Production dates and makes sure the staff and Talent are flowing properly through the Couch Covers experience.

 

 

 

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DIR. CARRIE STEFFEN

Director of Composition

Carrie is a writer, composer, and music teacher in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  She teaches guitar, ukulele, and piano at The Piano Cottage LLC. She has been a lead composer and Project Manager for Couch Covers since 2017. Her first vocal arrangement was “Wait” from Season 7. Her favorite Couch Cover is “Look What You Made Me Do”. She has a BA in Music Production from Full Sail University. She is also the sound designer and synth player for The Well Church in Kentwood, MI.

Carrie started with Couch Covers in Season 5 through Dir. Chen Flakes, who had worked with her previously at Guitar Center. She was very excited to meet Zach Burger, who at that point, had been featured in every video. 

Outside of Covers, Carrie writes and performs with her worship team and has recently been seen performing mandolin during Another October's acoustic sets.

As Director of Composition, Carrie composes most of the scores used by ensembles, works to engineer and record artists, and helps curate the song list for Couch Covers.

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DIR. KELSEY WILLIAMS

Director of Education

Kelsey came from a family that always had a love for playing and listening to music which influenced her very early in her life. She has also been influenced by the many amazing music teachers and mentors she had. She is very thankful for the musical family she has gathered over the years and for the huge effect they have had on her life.
 

Kelsey grew up in Freeland, MI where her musical journey began in elementary school where she picked up a guitar for the first time. Since then, Kelsey has specialized in acoustic, electric, classical and jazz guitar, and is an accomplished singer. She occasionally fiddles with ukulele, bass, piano, and saxophone, but her main passion singing with a guitar. Kelsey has been performing professionally over a decade. Her most memorable experience was being stopped mid-gig for a song request. The song was used as a surprise wedding proposal. She also teaches K-5 music and choir as well as provide private musical lessons.  In Kelsey’s spare time when she is not playing music, she enjoys refining her vegan culinary skills.

Kelsey attained her B.A. in Music Education from Saginaw Valley State University and is pursuing Masters in Music Education from Central Michigan University. Her musical preferences are American Folk, Rock'n'Roll, Blues, and Country. Kelsey finds inspiration from artists such as ‪Bob Dylan‬, ‪Johnny Cash‬, and ‪Jewel‬.

Kelsey first learned of Couch Covers when they visited Frankenmuth, MI for Season 7. Dir. Chen Flakes invited her to be in a video due to their previous musical endeavors in their high school days in Freeland, MI. Kelsey thought it sounded like a fun way to network with new musicians and create some music. It was a fun and insightful experience unlike any she had before. Kelsey has been a key component to Couch Covers ever since and has completely overhauled the on-boarding process.


Kelsey’s favorite Couch Cover is her first video, “These Days”. It is most memorable because it was her first Couch Cover and it remains as one of the most unique blend of instruments. She wishes she was with Couch Covers during the creation of Season 4’s “Glorious”. She believes the group of musicians did a phenomenal job of telling a story with the piece.

As the Director of Education, Kelsey's primary goal is to train and teach the hosting schools and venues regarding the vast array of Policies and Procedures for Couch Covers.

 

 

DEPT. MANAGERS

Department Managers (or DMs short) are often training for a Director position and oversea groups of volunteers, Captains, and CITs.

 

CAPT. DJ BAKER

Rehearsal Production Department Manager

DJ Baker originates from Stockbridge, Michigan where he grew up participating in his school’s bands and choirs. He eventually worked for 89.3 “The Message and Home.FM” during his college years attending Spring Arbor University where he studied film.

 

During his time at the station, his love for bands like Underoath, Emery, and Oceana would lead him to form his band “I Am Eternity” where he performed as their lead vocalist. His highlights included performing at Cornerstone Festival and the Audio Tree Music Festival. After the band disbanded in 2014, DJ Baker co-founded his clothing line “Dead Name Attire”.

 

Feeling an emptiness without music, Dir. Achilles Kirkikis brought DJ Baker in as a vocalist. DJ took bass lessons from Dir. Kirkikis and has been involved since Season 9. DJ Baker loves meeting the many musicians of Couch Covers and thrives in the uniqueness of the project.

 

As the head Department Manager for rehearsals, DJ uses his film studies to guide Talent during the rehearsal process, preparing them for the final stages of recording.

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CAPT. JOHN BROWN II

Production Continuity Department Manager

John Brown II is originally from Detroit, Michigan. He has been playing music for more than 20 years, and knows how to play drums, guitar, bass, and mandolin. More than likely, you will see him playing mandolin and drums for Couch Covers. His favorite styles of music to listen to are metal, southern hip hop, bluegrass, and funk. For the past several years his favorite artists have been ‪Chelsea Wolfe‬, Thou, ‪Project Pat‬, and ‪Bruno Mars‬. He discovered Couch Covers through Dir. Chen Flakes. John was Chen’s first boss when Chen was 19 years old at Guitar Center in Saginaw, Mi where John taught Chen how to drum. Fun fact: when Chen first started working for him, Chen did not know the difference between a floor tom and a snare drum.

When Chen reconnected with John in 2017 and asked him to play mandolin on camera for Season 3, it nearly scared him to death. However, he agreed, and  has been hooked ever since. John’s favorite video so far is "At My Weakest" from Season 9. Shooting that season was one of his best experiences in music since he first began playing any instrument.

He learned how to draw after he became a father. John designs for Couch Covers in his limited free time. He is also in charge of running continuity during video shoots. He digs it because it “allows him a chance to focus on what is going on and have a say in the release of a video”. His least favorite videos are “any that Chen focuses more on flipping his drum sticks than playing the drums.” 

John is tasked with the crucial job of continuity management. John checks everything from eyeline continuity to consistency in energy from clip to clip. 

 

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CAPT. CHRIS FRENCH

Contracts & Legal Documents Department Manager

Chris French was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. His musical journey began in 6th grade on the piano at Pinewood Middle School after getting kicked out of his orchestra for insubordination.

From there, Chris would discover solace in travel, self-discovery, and sobriety. He immersed himself in music, even finding his way to Carnegie Hall. 

As a professional musician and music instructor, Chris uses his immersive jazz background and business savviness to enhance to the Couch Covers image and experience.

He was brought to the team through Capt. Abbey Somerlott, of which was his co-worker at Gippers where they bartender together in their youth. He has since started collaborating in several projects with Dir. Chen Flakes. The pair have created a YouTube video series called "Tummy Shows", a sketch comedy highlighting health and vegan dieting.

Chris, a crucial component to the current infrastructure and further success of the team, now set his sights on expansion and logistical implementation into company production and quality control of releases. Chris is in charge of contract creation, disputes, and quality control of legal documents.

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CAPT. JOHN HARAG

Equipment & Acquisitions Department Manager

John has always loved music. As a child, John was attached to a (now retired) toy guitar. The first thing he did when he received his first FM radio / cassette player was curate mixtapes off of the radio. He would make mixes from old radio stations from his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan such as KLQ, Mix 96, and SunnyFM, and hi favorite, Radio Oz.

Johns family is full of musicians. His late grandmother played in a jazz band with her brother, john’s mother always had John and his sister in the choir at church. John preferred choir over sitting on the hard church pews. John would eventually learn to embrace his role as whatever male vocal part was needed in exchange for a spiffy, sequined vest.

After deciding against studying to be a choir teacher, a brief tour on bass with grunge band “The Luminous” (Extreme Tour West), and a handful of gigs filling in on drums, John was eventually recruited by Ryan Roosien for Couch Covers in 2018. The two have spent years of jamming music in Ryan’s basement and share a love for bands ranging from Tool, NIN, ‪Radiohead‬, ‪Pink Floyd‬, Metric, Clutch, ‪Chevelle‬, to artists like ‪Paramore‬, ‪Dweezil Zappa‬, ‪Saul Williams‬, ‪Autolux‬, ‪Joywave‬, and ‪The Classic Crime.
 

John was immediately onboard and fell in love with the project. In the beginning, John was not excited about his first Couch Cover (“Supplies” by Justin Timberlake) and was worried about the arrangement potential. However, by the day of the shoot during Season 8, he felt his team were all in the groove. Dir. Chen Flakes had arranged their Couch Cover into a funky, half-metal tune that had both grit and spunk. Voila. Pop Metal. Although he prefers, Funk Metal meets Progressive Rock style, John appreciated their final version.

John loves Dir. Achilles Kirkikis’s unique brand of metal Couch Covers. His personal favorite is the metal version of “This Is Halloween” from Season 5. John appreciates the way Achilles composes and employs the kind of metalcore technicality that John loves, but isn't quite in his own wheelhouse yet.

John's primary role is to handle the inflow and outflow of all equipment, gear, and belongings that enter and exit Couch Cover's production. He is in charge of hiring and training Roadies. Roadies are in charge of logging equipment, monitoring equipment storage, and making sure assets are protected and guarded at all times.

 

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CAPT. CHRIS MATTOON

Drumline & Percussion Department Manager

Chris Mattoon is a highly demanded drummer and percussionist from the east coast. A student of R&B legend Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and former Boston Symphony Orchestra member W. Lee Vinson, Chris has a diverse educational background. He has performed with the Berkshire Theater Group, the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra, Barry Goudreau and Matt Beck, Donna McKechnie, Chip Zien, Another October, Keri Lynch, Tony Lee Thomas, Jack Waldheim, A Sign Before, and countless other acts.

 

Chris is a teacher and published author; articles by Chris have been featured on the Vic Firth Educational Team’s website and he is a contributing writer for Drum! Magazine and Drumhead Magazine, both major publications with nation-wide distribution.  2014 Teacher of the Year at the Grand Rapids Academy of Music of Grand Rapids, Michigan, he is also the co-director of the Young Musicians Workshop’s Rock On! Band Camp in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, now in its 17 year. As owner of Mattoon Drums and Percussion, Chris has hand built high end, custom snare drums and drum sets for drummers both here at home and internationally. Chris currently maintains a healthy student roster exclusively at R.I.T. Music in Grand Rapids, the county's largest independent music store. Chris is regularly performing across the midwest with Sonimanic, The Sweet J Band, and Great Scott. 

 

The “Behind the Scenes” recording and producing is Chris’s favorite part of Couch Covers. He admires the ridiculous amount of effort and energy into every video, and stayed with the company after witnessing the amount of work everyone puts in. Witnessing the passion Dir. Chen Flakes and his whole team have for each project was really inspiring. Chris respects every recording session, and recognizes the work, but loves the  fun and creative side.

Chris heads the drum sections, where he assists in composition and arrangement. He has also been a touring drummer for Another October since 2012, where he first met most of the team.

 

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CAPT. VINCENZO PAVANO 

Check-In Department Manager

Vincenzo was born in Hartford, Connecticut, moving to Michigan at 8 years old. Vincenzo dreamed of being in a rock band from a very young age. 

 

His formal musical education began in middle school, where he would join the school band and learn how to play the trumpet. After realizing the trumpet was not for him, he transitioned to singing and joined his high school's musical theater department. He would participate in several musicals and ensembles, both at his school and church. 

 

Eventually, Vincenzo would miss the instrumental side of music and started playing bass in his church’s band while he attended college. His bass guitar, quite literally, showed up at his doorstep with no indication as to who sent it. Not asking any questions, he got to work and began teaching himself how to play. His interest expanded to the acoustic guitar, where he began learning throughout school.

 

Soon after graduating, Vincenzo decided to invest his time into his first love, the piano. After years of teaching himself, he enrolled for formal lessons at “The Piano Cottage”. He found himself learning from Dir. Chen Flakes, who quickly convinced Vincenzo to join Couch Covers. Vincenzo is very glad that he did. He loves the opportunity to collaborate with talented musicians and is excited to be part of the management team. Vincenzo made his Couch Covers debut in Season 11’s “Blow That Smoke” by Tove Lo.

 

Vincenzo’s determination and attention to detail brought him quickly through the ranks of Couch Covers until he became a Department Manager. You will first meet Vincenzo at the front desk, where he is in charge of ensuring everyone is on schedule for both Auditions and Production dates.

 

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CAPT. MAX POLZIN 

Behind The Scenes Department Manager

Max originates from the snowy town of Marquette, MI. He has always been drawn to instruments. Max’s parents told him that when he was very young, he would sit himself at the piano and try to play songs he heard on the radio. As Max got older, he kept up with piano and tried out as a percussionist for his school’s concert band where he would play through high school. Max recently picked up playing the guitar and teaching himself how to sing, which are quickly becoming his main instruments. Performing various instruments has taught Max to appreciate all kinds of music, though some of his more favorite genres are EDM, pop punk, folk/acoustic, and lo-fi beats/hiphop.

Max Polzin is proficient in welding and jewelry making. He also owns a production company that specializes in drones called “Polzin Planes”. Max has been hired to shoot several projects for Another October. He has been a huge part of the photography team since he joined Couch Covers in Season 10. Max was brought into Couch Covers by Dir. Chen Flakes through some mutual friends and instantly realized the vast level of talent laced throughout the company. Dir. Flakes convinced him to Project Manage a mashup of My Chemical Romance songs in Season 11 that remains one of his favorite videos (regardless of the hesitations he had of pulling off a complex compilation). He also loved the Couch Covers version of “Happier” by Bastille.

Together, accompanied with his trusty CIT Maddy McKay, will be seen running around the Couch Covers set, host Couch Covers. The duo prompt new Talent and management to talk about their experience.

 

 
 

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CAPT. JOCELYN SAMMONS

Band Conducting & Performance Department Manager

Music has always been a part of Jocelyn’s life. At the age of 6 she was first introduced to the drums by her dad who had played in a local rock band before she was born. Years later she would pick up drumming again in jam sessions with friends as well as in her church, playing solo, and, later, with Couch Covers. Her musical preferences vary widely but some of her favorite artists are the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus, and Greta van Fleet. She also appreciates rap and hip-hop such as Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, and Run the Jewels. Her most recent interest, however, has been indie music including the likes of Aaron Taos, Coast Modern, flor, and countless others.

 

Along with drumming, Jocelyn has played the clarinet since the age of 12 and later became first chair in the high school symphonic band as well as drum major for two years in her marching band. She later went on to play in the Western Michigan University Marching Band and was selected by Dr. David Montgomery to be both a drill instructor and section leader. Unfortunately, school demands became an obstacle that prevented her from continuing on, where she would have been leader of her section in 2014.

 

Jocelyn is a nursing graduate of WMU and works full-time at Bronson Hospital in the neuro critical care unit in Kalamazoo Michigan. The demands of working with critically-ill patients and their families creates a need for an outlet and music is one of the biggest outlets of them all, according to Jocelyn. Her childhood friend Abbey Somerlott first introduced her to Couch Covers over one year ago and, since then, Jocelyn has participated in three CC videos with more to come on the horizon.

You are most likely to see Jocelyn at the front of the stage, waving her baton and conducting the choir and ensemble videos. She can also be seen backing up Abbey and co. at live Another October shows as a touring drummer.

 

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CAPT. ZACH SCHROEDER

Costume & Wardrobe Department Manager

Zach is a musician from Clio, MI. He started having an interest in music at a young age when he was enrolled in an elementary music class. 

 

Zach often found himself sneaking to the drums. He would constantly get into trouble and sent to the Principal’s Office. Eventually, the school was fed up with the constant insubordination and finally placed him as a percussionist in the school band. 

 

He continued with percussion for 3 years before discovering picking up his first guitar. He was immediately addicted to the new instrument. 

 

This would lead Zach to his church’s worship team, where he would eventually switch to drums. He is constantly practicing his instruments to hone his craft. He would even win a national award for his compositions for his church. He takes his inspiration from iconic acts like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd to new bands like A Day to Remember.

 

Zach was introduced to Couch Covers via Dir. Achilles Kirkikis. Dir. Kirkikis was recommended Zach through his neighbor. Zach would make his debut in Season 11 of Couch Covers in a hardcore version of “Happier” by Bastille. 

 

Zach is one of the youngest member of the team to jump ranks to a Department Manager. Zach overseas wardrobe approval, dressing rooms, and final presentation before Talent leaves for Set.

 

CAPT. TOM SOUPAL

Box Office & Finances Department Manager

Tom is from Rockford, MI where he grew up playing the drums and singing. He is in the process of learning guitar, bass, and piano. Tom sings in a band called “Martyr for Madison” and the group have opened up for bands such as We Came As Romans, I See Stars, and Hawthorne Heights. His main inspirations are progressive artists like La Dispute, Chiodos, and Brand New.

Tom was a founding member of the Couch Covers management team and has been featured in dozens of productions. His favorites are “Attention” and “This Is Halloween” from Season 5. Tom describes Couch Covers as being “almost as cool as being a member of the Mickey Mouse club, but you’re Justin Timberlake.”

Tom's smiling face is greeting audience and Talent at the front of Couch Covers. Tom is in charge of incoming money and handles management of finances during the Couch Covers process.

 

 

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CAPTAINS

Captains are the Project Managers and the lifeblood of Couch Covers. Like a sports team, they lead their teams to success.

 

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CAPT. DEJON ALLEN

Born in Kansas City, DeJon’s musical background began unexpectedly when he first played the tambourine at his local church. Later, he took on the challenge of getting behind and mastering the drum set. From there, DeJon ventured in to the world of auxiliary percussion, refining his skills and later becoming a percussion specialist as well as a Hip-Hop artist. His love for music spans many genres and artists such as Elijah Blake, Max Roach, E-40, and John P. Kee, all of whom have been the keystone elements in shaping DeJon into the extremely talented musician he is today. it is on the foundation of Gospel music that DeJon has chosen to base his perception of music off of, and it is on this which he still stands.

 

Equipped with an Associates of Arts Degree from the Metropolitan Community College of Kansas City, as well as a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Music from North Dakota State University, DeJon has shares his expansive knowledge of music and the arts with those involved with Couch Covers.


DeJon’s journey with Couch Covers began when he was recruited to play drums in Season 5’s “Let It Snow”. He would go on to Captain a handful of jazz arrangements, and hopes to use his background to assist in the jazz productions.

 

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CAPT. ZACH BURGER

Zach Burger resides in West Michigan—born in Grand Rapids, MI, and raised in Lowell, MI. Music came naturally to Zach who was able to carry a tune at a young age, thereby creating his own melodies, and eventually, beginning to jot down his adolescent lyrics to form hundreds of rough-hewn songs. His ability to play by ear, along with a natural rhythm, provided an access road to self-taught guitar and piano, something he believes may have been inherited from his grandfather who was a professional ragtime pianist.

As a driving force in Zach’s life, music and songwriting became a personal journal or therapy session. From singing in his school choir to learning instruments to accompany his voice, it was clear music defined a path he would never deviate from. Taking his journal public in 2004 led to his eventual first release in 2009—“the ups & downs EP”—as a solo artist under the name, This April, followed by the release of his four-song follow-up EP “Whatever State You’re In” in 2010. Between the two EP releases, Zach joined a progressive metal band, Come Find The Lion, who would also release their album, “Creepin’ Me Out” in 2010. Life interceded in his band and solo project, which set the stage for his stint with the metal up-and-comers, Anthem Alone, in 2011, featuring ex-members of Still Remains. Disbanding two years later, and after releasing various singles, members would later join forces with Dir. Chen Flakes and release Another October’s 2014 album “Prefix” and music video, “Reattach” with Zach joining as a co-vocalist and lyricist.

Zach would form various projects, releasing singles and covers with and without Another October until 2017 when the idea of “Couch Covers” was conceived. He would represent the outfit as featured talent and star in the first two years worth of releases. Zach’s voice, guitar, piano, and bass skills have been showcased throughout dozens of styles of music created by Couch Covers and delivered by AO Studios.

Among other things, Zach is almost always creating some form of art. From a freelance graphic design and copywriting portfolio to the many projects he’s been a part of with Another October, his passion for expressing himself verbally and visually is nothing but persistent. In his spare time, he writes fiction, dabbles in poetry, and hopes to complete one of the novels he’s been diligently working on once Couch Covers slows down. Additionally, Dir. Flakes and Zach are co-creating a comic book series and whiskey line because every fantasy nerd needs a whiskey line. Finding time to release a published work of fiction, and new, original music within the next year are of the utmost importance to Zach, so keep an eye out for his new works.

 

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CAPT. SARENA CHANDLER

Sarena Rae is a graduate from Cornerstone University with a major in Commercial Music for Vocal Performance. She is a lead singer for the “Bluewater Kings Band” which specializes in performing high-energy music for corporate events, wedding receptions, and private functions. Sarena has been a part of Circle Theater's Concert series, starring in “Made in The Mitten”, “Anything Goes”, “Uptown Funk”, and “Broadway Babes”. Sarena has had the pleasure of working alongside the Piano Cottage as a lead singer and guest performance mentor for The Piano Cottage Rocks concerts. She was also in the opera “The Magic Flute” at Devos Performance Hall during the fall season.


Sarena has a great passion for people and believes that music can inspire, impact, and heal. Her first released original song called "You're Beautiful" and continues to encourage and uplift those who listen to the track. She loves being a part of Couch Covers and is excited to be in a leadership position.

 

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CAPT. FRED HILL

Fred Hill was born and raised in North Muskegon, Michigan. He is an award winning athlete, collecting multiple awards including All-State and MVP for track and field, as well as being selected by coaches for the Purdue Alexander Award due to his work ethic in football and basketball. Humbled by these accolades, Fred was graced with the opportunity to participate in a SkillsUSA Leadership Program via the Muskegon Career Tech Center where Fred would study the importance of leadership.

 

After graduation, Fred joined the Muskegon Mustangs Minor League Football Team where they would go on to win the National Title. Fred left Semi-Pro football to join  the SEED program for underprivileged and at-risk youth. They provided him with a platform to encourage young men and women in overcoming circumstances and rising above past challenges and mistakes. He is grateful to have been able to spread a message of hope to the younger generation, and uses his mentorship skills to lead Couch Covers.

 

He would take his experiences to kickstart his music career, where he was eventually discovered by Dir. Chen Flakes. Fred view on using music as a vehicle for expression, using the vulnerability of art to share his testimony and offer perspective caught the eye of Dir. Flakes who brought Fred onto the team in Season 8 as the rapper of the group. Fred has considered Couch Covers a lifelong gift, and is forever grateful to Dir. Flakes for believing in him and bringing him onto the team.

 

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CAPT. CHARLIE HOKE

Charlie Hoke first got involved in Couch Covers in Season 9. His favorite Couch Cover is definitely the pop-punk cover of ‪Selena Gomez‬’s “Back to You”, but his overall favorite has to be the Couch Cover of “Run” by ‪Foo Fighters‬; which is one of his favorite bands. He’s been playing music since he was about 10 years old. Although he can play guitar and bass, he would say he is best on the drums. Charlie tends to prefer heavier rock and punk music... Some of his favorite bands include Tool, Thrice, Every Time I Die, Clutch and Between the Buried & Me.

Charlie graduated from Ferris State University in Music Industry Management, which included internships at the Royal Oak Music Theater and Victory Records in Chicago, IL. He discovered Couch Covers through Dir. Chen Flakes. The two had worked together for almost 8 years at Guitar Center, where Charlie was actually Chen’s boss “(the times, they are a-changin)”.

 

A fun fact about Charlie is that he played tuba in elementary and middle school. He once told his music teacher that he wasn’t going to continue to play tuba in high school. The teacher actually cried and told him that if he stuck with it, Charlie could be a professional tuba player. Football sounded better. Unfortunately, Charlie is also a diehard Detroit Lions fan.

A memorable moment from Charlie’s first season in Couch Covers is when he realized that he needed an extra acoustic guitar player during “Girls Like You”. He was thrown into the video with about 5 minutes to learn a song he had never heard before.  Charlie was so nervous that you can actually see him sweating through his shirt in the video!

He is currently training under Chen Flakes for a management position, which he says is his payback for bossing Chen around for almost a decade.

 

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CAPT. DONNIE RIETHMEIER

Donnie was born in the small town of Birch Run, Michigan. Donnie has always been surrounded by music, and he grew up with percussion and the piano.

 

Donnie and his friend Zachary Hastings started a band right out of high school. The duo put an ad out online searching for a guitarist. A young Dir. Chen Flakes responded to the ad in 2008, and the pair have been performing music ever since.

 

Their first band, Stars as Silhouettes, was a progressive pop band that featured several prominent musicians of Couch Covers including Cody Wray, Andrew Doran, and Steven Avery. Eventually, the group would disband in 2011 and form “Another October.” Donnie, who was unable to relocate with the band to Grand Rapids, has filled in on and off as a pianist for Another October and is their current touring auxiliary artist for synths, keyboards, and backup percussion.

 

Outside of Another October and Couch Covers, Donnie volunteers in many local ensembles and has been a percussionist in The Classic Legacy Band of Saginaw for well over a decade and has also performed with The Vassar City Band. He was inspired to learn the accordion, and is looking to be the first accordion-featured artist in Couch Covers, and would love to do a rendition of an “Oldie” such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Chicago, or the Doobie Brothers.

 

Donnie uses his tenured experience in Couch Covers to feature as a percussionist, pianist, and often co-manages the AO Apparel pop-up shop at Production dates.

 
 

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CAPT. ABBEY SOMERLOTT

Music discovered Abbey as a young girl in Coldwater, Michigan; mainly from her parent’s who are major live music seekers and connoisseurs. Although they are not musicians themselves, their passion rubbed off on her. She has been singing along to songs for as long as she can remember. Around the age of 12, she performed many concerts in her bedroom and pretended she was ‪Avril Lavigne‬. She was a huge Pop-Punk fan (still is today!).

In high school, Abbey finally picked up a guitar to explore what she had to offer musically, learning to play her favorite covers over and over in her bedroom. Throughout the rest of high school and college, she did everything she could to be involved in music and live performances, primarily joining cover bands as the lead singer, while occasionally picking up her acoustic guitar for solo shows. Most of her musical influences stem from classic rock and the blues, along with popular Top 40 hits to supplement some of the oldies. Abbey loves and appreciates all genres of music. Abbey was initially discovered by Couch Covers during a live performance with her band at a local sports bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After a few months of recruitment, she signed on to join the team for the 5th Season of Couch Covers.

Her favorite music video from Couch Covers that she’s featured in is “Girls Like You” because it it debuted her alter-ego, “Seeza”. Her favorite video she’s not in is “Wait" because she thinks it was interesting seeing an acapella video with an awesome arrangement. Plus, it was one of the first videos shot with a 360° perspective. Her most memorable Couch Covers moment was at her first shoot when she walked through the door of her first shoot and it was complete chaos, without any direction. The memory is a constant reminder of how far Couch Covers has come to improve the experience for new musicians and making everyone feel comfortable with the project. Abbey is also playing bass for Another October.

 

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CAPT. CODY WRAY

Cody originates from Clio, MI and is also a founding member of Another October. Cody started playing stringed instruments at an early age. He has always been interested in being like his punk rock heroes, performing on stage with his best friends, and always having an awesome time. His favorite artists are ‪Ryan Adams‬, ‪Gram Parsons‬, CCR, Lil Peep, ‪The Strokes‬, White Stripes, ‪The Ramones‬, and of course, The Misfits. Cody can play a variety of instruments ranging from electric and acoustic guitars to upright basses and the banjo.

Cody Wray is also an accomplished painter and tattoo artist, who has designed several merchandise designs for Another October and Couch Covers. After a long hiatus from music to focus on his family, Cody was convinced by Dir. Flakes to come back to his roots in Season 8. He is currently performing as a session artist for Another October's live shows.

Cody has enjoyed all the fun he has had spending time with old friends again and being able to meet the many amazing singers and musicians involved in the Couch Covers project.

CITS

CITs (or Captains in Training) are the awesome members of the team that are not QUITE old enough to be Captains, but are still equally as awesome.

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CIT. KOLBE BREW

Kolbe was born fourth in a family six musically talented kids. He started music as soon as he could stand. This early introduction to rhythm and tone eventually bloomed into a lifelong love and pursuit of music. However, music wasn’t an instant infatuation. 

 

Prior to his family moving into their current residence of East Grand Rapids, Kolbe started piano lessons. His hatred instrument and constant practice along with his lack of enthusiasm for the instrument led him to abandon it in his early years. Eventually, his older brother would convince him to try out the trumpet. Under the tutelage of Phil Bajema, he learned a lot about music and he began to gain a new appreciation for the art. The studies took a turn for the worse when Kolbe started middle school orthodontics, causing the trumpet to suddenly become much more painful to practice. 

Fortunately, he found solace in a new instrument: bass guitar. He rapidly bounced around instructors until he settled under the expert tutelage of Dir. Chen Flakes. He quickly advanced on the instrument and progressed to a 5 string bass guitar. His incredible learning curve and dedication to the instrument brought him into Couch Covers as the youngest talent during his debut in the Season 9 of Couch Covers as the bassist for "Dance to This". Kolbe has gone on to perform in future Seasons and even brought back his trumpet in Season 11. His tenacity recently promoted him to a primary Judge in Season 12, where he will use his experience and knowledge of woodwind and bass guitar to help vote on the future of Couch Covers. 

 

Kolbe now spends his time practicing trumpet and bass, studying for school, and running for his high school’s cross-country and track teams while teaching his instructor, Dir Flakes, how to do Fortnite dance.

 

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CIT. NOAH KOLCZYNSKI

Noah Kolczynski grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a broad fascination of music. As a young child, his family would parade around the house with various instruments. Noah often found himself choosing drums. 

 

Noah would eventually develop an interest in creating electronic music and started learning FL Studio. Inspired by his favorite artists like Martin Garrix and Curbi, Noah releases original music and remixes underneath the moniker of “Haplow”. Noah joined his Middle School orchestra as a violinist and started drum lessons shortly thereafter. He would eventually seek guidance and meet Dir. Chen Flakes, who mentored Noah on the drums, keyboard, and production. Dir. Flakes would eventually recruit Noah as one of the first CITs, and brought him into Season 9’s “Dance to This.”

 

Now a drummer, keyboard player, violinist, and producer, Noah is a prominent artist in the Couch Covers series. He uses his multi-instrumental talents and his Couch Covers expertise as a judge during Auditions. 

 

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CIT. MADDY MCKAY

Maddy McKay was born in Grand Rapids, MI, where she has lived her entire life. She began singing at three and a half years old and has not stopped since.  Music has always been a major part of Maddy’s life. Her first major musical milestone was when she sounded out "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on the piano as an infant. This prompted her parents to enroll her into music lessons. Maddy took piano shortly thereafter to accompany her voice.

 

After several stints with a handful of teachers, she eventually began songwriting lessons with Dir. Chen Flakes. Her first Couch Covers performance was in Season 9 where she would sing and play piano in "Dance to This". She also assisted in video production and was a major asset in her first Seasons.

 

Impressed by her performance, ability, and willingness to learn, Dir. Flakes brought her into Another October in 2019 where she is now a vocalist and pianist. Together, they are writing new music for Another October. During the migration into schools, Maddy was voted to "Host" alongside Max Polzin. 

 

As a host, Maddy will act as the primary face and voice of Couch Covers during the school productions. She will collect both Talent and audience reactions to performances and provide commentary. In her limited spare time, Maddy also works at her dad’s restaurant Manna Cafe as a waitress/hostess. She loves to cook, bake, and eat copious amounts of sweets. She also has a love for fine arts and network television.