Punk Rock career basis for nontraditional path to pursue teaching english

After touring with a punk band for two years, Austin Willette decided to settle down and enter college in order to one day become an English teacher. Once he has his bachelors, he plans on going on to get a master’s degree and Ph.D.

“I’m going to try to go all the way,” Willette said “I’m going to go to school, do it all. No reason not to.”

The 21-year-old punk rocker turned non-traditional college student came to Minnesota State to pursue higher education after realizing he could not spend the rest of his life as a musician making little to no money. The turning point came when Willette agreed to help his sister move in on campus her freshman year.

“The second I got to campus it looked exciting, people looked happy, they had smiles on their faces, it looked like they really wanted to be here,” said Willette.

Willette originally got into writing music in high school as a means of addressing his emotional and mental health. Writing, he said, can be a very important tool to help improve oneself as a person.

“Your brain is a very important thing,” he said. “If you have problems you should write it down and writing it down lets you look back at it, and see what you’ve changed. I started writing down my problems and my emotions and I like to look back on it and see how much I’ve done,” 

Willette has not given up performing music, even though he is not a college student.

In addition to being active with Greek life and his fraternity Phi Delta Theta, Willette is trying to form a new band to play with in his spare time. However, he claimed it was difficult finding a bass player in the Mankato area.

Bands and artists that Willette admires include Randy Blythe, NOFX, Fat Mike, Ramones, Rancid, Tim Timebomb, and Blink 182.

“He [Tim Timebomb] is one of my favorite artists of all time. He also has the same birthday with me,” said Willette.

Willette described being on tour as involving long hours and lengthy road trips.

“It’s living in the back of a van, sitting in there at least 15 hours a day, moving your own gear, playing your own music, trying to make as much money as you can and then going on to the next city,” said Willettte.

Lack of income as a musician was one reason Willette cited as he came to college.

However, Willette said he has no regrets over the years he spent on the road as a touring musician before college, and he claims to have enjoyed it immensely. In describing the music he played while on tour, Willette said it was both political and personal.

“It was really political but really just being ourselves, being our age and how we enjoy life and how we do things. There was no hate, just positive music. We did not really give a shit, we just wanted to be there to play. We just enjoyed every second of it,” said Willette.

Header photo: Austin Willette toured for two years on the road with his punk rock band and now is pursuing a career in teaching English at Minnesota State University.  (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Jeremy Redlien at

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