Nerds and Beyond had the opportunity to sit down with Aaron Allen III, better known as Tre, a member of one of the most illustrious HBCU bands in the land: Prarie View A&M’s Marching Storm. Tre and the rest of the band have recently been featured in The CW’s new docuseries March that premiered in January. The docuseries style show follows members of the band, dance team, staff, and more as they fight to become the number one ranked HBCU band in the nation while juggling other aspects of life like school, relationships, and more. Without further ado, let’s jump into the interview!
*This interview has been edited for clarity*
Nerds and Beyond: HBCU band culture is firmly ingrained in the south with big names like Florida A&M, Southern, Jackson, and of course PV. However, in terms of the entire country, it’s a pretty niche experience. What has it meant to you to be able to share this unique pocket of culture with people through this show?
Tre: Basically, I can say I’m glad that I was able to… expand the HBCU culture, especially in the eyes of fans and in myself, because it’s a lot of outside looking in when it comes to HBCU bands and things that go on inside. I’m glad I could express how HBCUs have helped expand black minds.
Nerds and Beyond: It must have been an interesting experience to suddenly have your life being filmed by a camera crew. What was it like to adjust to that level of scrutiny, and what has it been like to see the show released to the world?
Tre: Dealing with the show, it was definitely very stressful with the times, you know, being in school, especially being with my child. So it interfered with a lot. But one thing I can say, it was a great experience and it’s something that I would definitely want to do again. Basically, it’s getting ready for life because you know, you have different times that you have to show up places in a timely manner. They were really strict on times when it came to shoots. So that was one thing that was pretty much a big change.
Seeing it released is really shocking to me because the scenes that I was in took like two hours to film, and it’s only like 25 seconds or so on on the screen. So it’s like, how they got it, you know, edited and stuff so fast. We just finished it less than two months ago. So, that’s just crazy to me. I got a lot of people that have been writing me, telling me to keep going. So it’s been really uplifting. I can say that.
Nerds and Beyond: How did you come to get involved with music? Did you always know it was something you wanted to pursue? And what about the Marching Storm specifically drew you to PV?
Tre: So, music has been around my family and my younger years. My brother, he was a great musician. He plays piano, drums, tuba. He played anything. So I really looked up to him and my great grandfather, he’s a saxophonist. So, I really got into music like around when I was in elementary — in about second grade. And ever since then, I was a drum major at my brother’s high school. So I got into high school and became drum major myself there. So, that’s what really drew me to PV is being a drum major for so long, and having to watch them and study them for so long. It really drew me there, because my dream is to be a drum major here one day.
Nerds and Beyond: Family seems to be a big theme in your life, from your connection with your daughter to the familial culture of the Marching Storm. How have the people in your life inspired you and pushed you towards your goals?
Tre: My mom influenced me the most because she pushes me more than everybody. She expects a lot for me because I’ve, you know, made it through a lot of endeavors in life. Many people didn’t think I would be where I’m at right now because of learning disabilities. I have dyslexia and ADHD. So, it was a whole bunch of different things I had to go through as a kid to get to where I am now. And my mom was really like my standpoint on everything. She’s there for everything. Even the times where I couldn’t tell her [what] was going on, she still knew because she’s my mom, so that’s really like she’s influenced me a lot to be successful. As well as my daughter and my girlfriend, they made me who I am today.
Nerds and Beyond: What has been your favorite aspect of being a part of the Marching Storm and how have your bandmates and coaching staff shaped your experience?
Tre: I would say my favorite aspect of being in the Marching Storm would be how family-oriented it is. No, because you’re with these people, literally almost 200 days a year. So, it’s like you see them every day. You might as well get acquainted with them. And once you get acquainted with them, it’s just like that’s a whole bunch of forever. It don’t matter if you don’t see them after the band season. One day you will see them and you instantly know you got a friend. That’s just how it’s been since I’ve been here. No matter if it was old Marching Storm, they still came around and, you know, treated us like family.
Nerds and Beyond: So, the show focuses on this journey y’all are on to become the number 1 ranked HBCU marching band in the nation. What do you think is the one thing that is going to elevate you above other teams on this journey? What is the Marching Storm’s “it factor”?
Tre: Our “it factor” is our enthusiasm and our determination to be better. It don’t matter if we’re number one. We’re still looking for those things to fix to where we can be the best where you can’t even nitpick anything. We want everything to be precise. That’s one thing the Marching Storm focuses on more than I believe other bands is precision. So that’s where we’re beating every other band right now.
Nerds and Beyond: The way March was marketed was as a show in a similar docuseries style to Cheer, where we follow one specific team on their journey towards some goal. What do you think it is about this style of TV show that draws people in since it’s become more common in the past couple of years? And what do you think makes March unique compared to these other shows in the same genre?
Tre: I would say it is a growing popularity for these reality TV shows like that. But I would say it is more interesting because this is actual people. It’s not scripted. It’s not drama, it’s more real-life situations and real problems as well as college students trying to be successful. And that’s one thing I think more people need to see. Because there’s a lot of kids, they’re scared to go to college, because they don’t know what college is, you know, consumed of. There’s a lot of kids scared to try out for band because they think, “Oh, I’m not good enough. I don’t I don’t know this. I don’t know that.” But coming in, you don’t have to know as much as anybody thinks. So we’re just trying to give that aspect of we’re taking anybody, we’re accepting of anybody, we’re willing to teach anybody.
Nerds and Beyond: And for the last question I have for you today, what is the main thing that you hope the audience takes away from watching you and your teammates’ experiences on March?
Tre: Well, I would say a few things. So the first I will say, I want them to take away this about band stereotypes. Being in band in college, a lot of kids don’t want to be in band because they feel like they’re gonna be labeled as a nerd or geek or anything, but that’s really not what band is about. People actually like people in band. They actually get along with them, we’re really like well known around the campus. So that’s one thing, as well as I’m glad that I’m reaching out to you know, young fathers. Me being a young father in school and work and being in band, showing that it’s really possible to do anything. You’re never too busy to keep living your life with a child. Those are the two main things I’m happy to show.
We want to extend a big thanks to Tre for taking the time to speak with us. You can catch March on The CW on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET/ 8 p.m. CT.