Arts interview

The Porch Yellers lament the "Dormpocalypse"

An eventful year in dorm life lends itself to folk song magic

It’s official: we’ve entered the songwriting stage of the pervasive discontent among students about the state of dorm life on campus.

Last week, The Porch Yellers released their first song, “The Ballad of Dormpocalypse,” on dorm lists, sparking lengthy email threads and massive sharing. Its popularity is well deserved.

The Porch Yellers are Eurah Ko ’16 (vocals and acoustic guitar), Kim Dauber ’18 (vocals), and Jake Gunter ’17 (producer, electric guitar, and electric bass).

“Outside of the trio, I also received a lot of help writing and editing lyrics from Lauren St. Hilaire ’16, Emily Rosser ’16, Rachel Bowens-Rubin ’11, and Danny Ben-David ’15,” Ko said in an email to The Tech.

The band took inspiration from a rather eventful school year as far as dorm life is concerned: the Random Hall fire, the New House pipe bursts, the moratorium on freshman in Senior House, the failed “Bexley bong” (the sculpture near W11 that fell over), and the scrapped plans, fondly referred to as MetX, for a dorm in the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse.

Students have sent emails to administrators, written letters to the editor to The Tech, and have participated in threads upon threads of emails lamenting new policies, strategizing email campaigns, and more. The Porch Yellers’ song is the perfect campus catharsis. It’s easy to get lost in the details when reading email threads or news articles — in a single song, The Porch Yellers capture a common campus mood. The song packs a powerful punch while still being playful, making clear the eventful and ridiculous happenings of this past year. While MIT has many political and cause-oriented groups, I’d wager that our student body isn’t particularly known for collectively getting riled up about politics, but our dorms are an entirely different matter. Here’s what The Porch Yellers had to say about their debut song.

The Tech: What was your inspiration? Why did you make this song?

Eurah Ko: I was a little bored post-graduation, and more than a little annoyed at the recent unpreparedness of MIT when it came to dealing with dorms. When Random Hall caught on fire, it was the cherry on top of a situation that seemed like it was from an absurdist comedy. A lot people had remarked online (e.g. Facebook,, mailing lists) that this was the “Dormpocalypse.” Some people noticed that the dorms had fallen to air (Bexley tower), fire (Random), and water (New), and that now we just were waiting for a dorm to fall from an earthquake or something. It was basically an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

But yeah, the whole thing seemed like it was ripe for some good old-fashioned storytelling. After all, there are two kinds of initial defense mechanisms to a frustrating situation: anger, and sarcasm. And by the time the Random fire happened, I had already spent all of my anger ranting, so all I had left was a bunch of jokes. Having helped write the 2015 i3 video song for Next House, I thought it would be fun to write a song again.

The Tech: How did you decide on the genre? Why a folk song?

EK: It’s mostly because my main instrument of choice is the acoustic guitar, and simple folk songs are relatively easier to write and think of instrumentation for. However, after practicing the song a few times with Kim, we realized that the song would sound good done specifically in a “Western” style. We originally had envisioned a simple arrangement of vocals and acoustic guitar, but then Jake used his awesome skills as a producer and instrumentalist to add in a bunch of other things as well (we especially like the horse whinny).

Jake Gunter: When Eurah originally came to me with the idea to record the song, we started brainstorming ideas for instrumentation and influences.  We took inspiration from a lot of old country songs, and the soundtracks to Spaghetti Westerns (particularly some of Ennio Morricone’s work), so I suggested a few additions that were idiomatic to that style — like the clip-clop percussion and occasional electric guitar riffs. Adding a horse whinny after the line about MetX was originally my idea of a joke — but after I added it in, we took a listen and immediately agreed that it had to stay.

The Tech: Is this the first song that the Porch Yellers made?

EK: Yup! I basically told Kim out of the blue that I had this funny little song, and asked if she wanted to provide vocals and harmonize with me. Then we set out to find a producer who could help us record. Luckily, I had done some recording work with Jake before, and so we spent a night recording in his bedroom setup.

The Tech: Is there a story behind the band name?

EK: Funny story, there were a bunch of other candidates…

The “Dorm”mat Singers (inspired by The Doormat Singers)

The Howdy Doody’s

The Fart Noises of MIT

In Tents

The Tent Renters


The Tentations

Death to the Grass on Kresge

How to Succeed at MIT Without Really Trying

The Porch Yellers was eventually chosen to illustrate the fact that we were like a bunch of old people (well, Jake and I, at least) yelling at passersby from porches. We felt like it was true to the spirit of the song.

The Tech: How did the idea coalesce from a "wouldn't it be funny if..." to a finished product?

EK: Lots of boredom, that turned into a Google Doc, that turned into me and other friends trying for hours to get the verses just right, that turned into a full-fledged song complete with a rhythm, lead, and percussion section. I find that I’ll muster remarkable amounts of determination and drive for silly projects, and Ballad was one of the silliest things I’ve ever made. However, I especially thank Jake and Kim for making the final product as finished as it is, because without them this would have just been recorded on an iPhone by myself.

JG: I had the easy job — I just set up a microphone and hit ‘record’. But without songwriters like Eurah (and all the wonderful people who helped her), there’d be nothing for poor recording engineers like me to do.

The Tech: When should we expect The Porch Yellers' first EP?

EK: Uh, undetermined, since this was supposed to be a one-off thing. However, we do encourage our fellow students and alums to destress through some song and lyric writing, it’s quite nice. We’re also open to any collaborators that have funny ideas! (Also, rumour has it that there may be a music video in the works! We can neither confirm nor deny this, but it sounds pretty cool.)

JG: Plans may or may not be in the works for a cover of the “Bad Horse” song from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

The lyrics to the song are included courtesy of The Porch Yellers.


First went Bexley, brick and wood

A hundred years, it proudly stood

Public Art went in its place

Then fell flaccid in disgrace


Doubles triples everywhere

DormCon’s pulling out its hair

Dorms are falling east and west

Will they ever stand time’s test?


Bursting forth went New House pipes

Emails flooded with their gripes

The admins all threw up their hands

And swore this wasn't ever planned


Doubles triples everywhere

DormCon’s pulling out its hair

Dorms are falling east and west

Will they ever stand time’s test?


Senior Haus was rather queer

Low grad rates sparked admins' fear

No frosh 'til at least the spring

Or new blood for the tire swing


Doubles triples everywhere

DormCon’s pulling out its hair

Dorms are falling east and west

Will they ever stand time’s test?


Random's roof went up in flame

Bonfire lived up to its name

Sprinklers added to the curse

Fire's bad, (pregnant pause) but water's worse!


(spoken) Just ask New House!


Doubles triples everywhere

DormCon’s pulling out its hair

Dorms are falling east and west

Will they ever stand time’s test?


Will EC have a real roach quake?

Will Simmons’ windows crack and break?

Will zombie hordes overrun Next?

(spoken) Hell, don’t get me started on MetX!


Doubles triples quads and quints

Will admins ever get the hint?

Dorms are falling east and west

Will they ever stand time’s test?