Rob Cantor, 24, paused briefly before acknowledging that he's about to ditch medical school to pursue a rock 'n' roll dream with his band, Tally Hall.
"I don't think I've even admitted it to myself yet," Cantor said in a phone interview last week. "But at this point, I think I can say I'd rather do music."
One consolation for his parents: Cantor looks like a fine young professional while he's crooning on stage. Like the four other members of this Ann Arbor band, he wears a white cotton dress shirt, black slacks and a tie color all his own.
"We wanted something to distinguish ourselves from every other college band that plays in jeans and T-shirts," Cantor said. "We also wanted something that showed our unity and our individuality."
The way Tally Hall dress says a lot about their background and their music. They're five recent grads from the University of Michigan, most of whom grew up in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills.
They play quirky indie-pop that embraces everything from calypso to rap to synth-rock to ballads. Charm and good humor bring it all together. Like the Barenaked Ladies, Tally Hall thrive on the idea that great music is great entertainment.
The Tally Hall shtick is tailored to suburban kids born in the 1980s. Their catchy single "Two Wuv" is an anthem of teenage-boy adulation for the Olsen Twins:
Mary Kate and Ashley I hope you
That I love you a lot and I want to be your
And I think that it'd be totally cool
If I hung around your apartments
And enrolled in your school
Tally Hall's debut album, Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum, takes its name from a funky tourist attraction in the band's hometown. The museum is a showcase for the glittery electronics of pop culture, from pinball machines to neon signs.
"It's an appropriate symbol of our music," Cantor said. "When you go inside Marvin's, you never know what to expect. It can be old and dark, or cool and hilarious."
Mostly, their fans seem to think Tally Hall's music is cool and hilarious. Female groupies wearing dress shirts and ties surround them when they're on stage.
Cantor reflects on Tally Hall's early success with modesty.
"There's only one of us with any formal musical training," he says. "We have to work hard to make our songs good."
Luckily for Tally Hall, they're born entertainers.