Rock Star Jay Weinberg ’14 Found Rhythm ─ and Balance ─ at Stevens
Drummers specialize in keeping time, but managing a full university course load while also playing sold-out shows with Slip Knot? Jay Weinberg ’14 did it, working with open-minded professors at Stevens to structure a non-traditional path to a degree in business and technology.
Weinberg has rhythm in his blood. As the son of legendary E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg, Jay was encouraged to develop his own musical abilities from a young age. He began guitar lessons at nine years old, but the format didn’t click for him ─ “that reminded me of school and I didn’t like it,” he recalls. A switch to bass guitar at 12 wasn’t quite right either, so Weinberg took a different approach.
“I just wanted to play along with my favorite albums. And that’s what I did… I’d just get home from school and play drums,” he says.
When considering his path post-high school, Weinberg searched for a university program where he could learn the practical skills he’d need to build a career in the arts.
“I grew up in a musical family and I knew I had to be professional,” he says. “I felt a higher education would allow me to refine my focus and figure out how to conduct myself in the creative world, how to develop a business sense and how to marry that with art and music.”
Just two months into his first year at Stevens, though, Weinberg was tapped to sit in on a few live shows for his father. Suddenly, the self-taught drummer found himself on arena stages, playing behind Springsteen on his Working on a Dream tour.
While the timing wasn’t ideal, Weinberg’s professors and dean recognized the importance of the opportunity. They worked with him to design alternative assignments that allowed him to prove his understanding of the material when he needed to be absent from exams.
For the first two years, he balanced his studies and professional life. Then, in late 2010, Weinberg joined Against Me!, a punk band that was gaining national attention.
“I had to make a sacrifice and it was studies or the band. It was this great opportunity and I knew Stevens would be there; I knew in my heart that I had to come back,” he says.
True to his word, Weinberg soon returned. Six years after beginning studies at Stevens, he graduated with a business and technology degree. But not without one last decision: during final exams of his final semester on Castle Point, he received yet another call, this time to audition for the popular heavy metal band Slipknot. (Spoiler: he passed, and continues touring with Slipknot today.)
Weinberg credits his alma mater with allowing him the freedom to create his own path to success.
“Stevens is so forward-thinking and willing to go so far out of the box,” he says. “It was incumbent on me, but everyone was willing to put aside the traditional way of doing things to help me achieve my dreams of pursuing a life in music and getting an education.”