Q&A with Dr. Arthur C. Bartner

Dr. Arthur C. Bartner, the director of the Trojans Marching Band, will be inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday night. Dr. Bartner has been leading the Spirit of Troy since 1970 and has developed it into one of the most well-known college marching bands in the country.

WeAreSC: How did you find out about the induction?

Bartner: John Hamilton (one of the members of the Hall of Fame board) called me and let me know. The Hall of Fame is something I’ve obviously known about for years, especially since the band plays at every one of them (laughing). My name has always been bandied about, I’ve been on the bubble, but I never got that call. Now I did. And to have it happen under Pat Haden as the athletic director is special. I’m one of the few who was here when Pat was playing so we’ve got a long history together, he’s just a super guy.

WeAreSC: USC is very fortunate to have Haden in this position right now.

Bartner: I agree and let me give you an example of that. For years I’ve been trying to get a uniform for the basketball band, just like the football band has a uniform they wear. I ran into Pat a while ago and he says to me “What can I do for your guys?” so I told him it was my dream to get a basketball uniform. He said “We’ll get it done” and now it’s going to happen.

WeAreSC: You’ve received many honors in your career, but the USC athletic teams hold a special place for you so this honor into their Hall of Fame has to really mean something.

Bartner: They give us each two minutes to thank people, but I’ll take four or five because I get to thank the people who have been instrumental in the success of this band program. People like Marv Goux, John Robinson, Barbara Hedges, Neil Pings, Doug Pardee, Pete Carroll, John Baxter, Ed Orgeron. It gives me a public forum to say "Yes, this is a great honor, but here are the people who have played a major role in the last 42 years." So that’s what I’m most excited about doing. And the people in the audience will know these people, they know what I mean about the spirit of USC when I say Marv Goux.

WeAreSC: One of the things that has to be gratifying for you is to see the way the players, students and alumni have gravitated to and supported the band over the years.

Bartner: One of the great things about this night is Lynn Swann will be the emcee. He was the first player to run over to the band after a game, grab the sword, climb the ladder and lead the band in Conquest. He was the first one to do that! I couldn’t pick a better guy to be the emcee. I’ve had so many former players come up to me, time after time over the years, and tell me they get goose bumps when we play the fight song. All those great memories come back to them instantly when they hear it. Junior Seau came up and gave me a hug at the spring game a few weeks ago, he had a big smile on his face listening to the band.

I tell all our freshman when they get here, the best thing about this band program is the correlation with the football team. It’s the closeness we have with the team, the coaches. You can go to 99 percent of the bands around the country and they only see the team from the seats. We see these guys at rallies, events and get to know them up close and personal. It makes USC a very, very special place.

WeAreSC: And there has to be nothing like the thrill for you on game day in the Coliseum when you’re out there leading the band in front of a packed crowd.

Bartner: It’s like I’m playing or coaching the game too. A play goes on, we need to respond. It’s fourth and inches, we need to get the student body up. We really feel like we’re a part of the game and we’re bringing the student body along with us. It’s really exciting, it really is.

WeAreSC: You guys have so many traditions with the band, do you have any favorites?

Bartner: We’ve got a recent one where we play this tune “All I do is win”. We get 10,000 students raising their arms up and down with the song, it’s awesome. Talk about an intimidation, you’re about to kickoff and all you see is this student body doing that. I love it. It’s funny how we got that tune -- a couple years ago we were on the BET network doing an awards show and that rapper was on doing the tune. We liked it and grabbed part of it and it has really caught on. It’s just one of those things that makes the game day experience so exciting.