Bad Mary lead singer Amanda Mac ’10, clad in flowered fishnets and combat boots, surveyed the audience at Hofstra’s annual Fall Festival. Eight years earlier, she’d been just another face in the crowd.
Now, she was on stage, microphone in hand, the hot pink cord wrapped around her arm.
“This is absolutely nuts,” she thought. “I’m playing the same crazy concert I went to as a student. This is surreal.”
Guitarist David Henderson was positioned stage right, his guitar hanging by a hot pink boa. Bass player Mike Staub ’08, ’10, stood to her left. Behind Amanda sat the drummer – Bill Mac ’06.
One was her professor. One was her husband. One was her dad.
“ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR!”
With that, Bad Mary launched into a powerhouse set of punk rock, in-your-face originals.
David Henderson, an associate professor of drama and dance, had been at Hofstra for six years when he started David and the Hendersons – a cover band composed of a group of rotating students that still exists today.
“Students and faculty work together artistically all the time at Hofstra,” David said. “You’re in the trenches together when working on a show or playing music. It’s a different experience.”
Amanda Mac and Mike Staub were third-generation members of David and the Hendersons. Mike, who studied music and marketing, always gravitated toward the theater community, eventually carving out a place for himself in the Department of Drama and Dance. Amanda was a drama student who dreamed about joining David and the Hendersons as she sat in his costume history class sophomore year. She never imagined how the band would change her life.
When Amanda and Mike graduated in 2010, they and David couldn’t bear the thought of not playing together. So, they formed Madame X, playing covers all over Long Island. About a year in, after a few lineup changes, they found themselves in the market for a drummer.
Amanda immediately went to the best musician she knew.
“It blew my mind when she asked me to join the band,” said her dad, Bill Mac. “I asked if she was sure, and she just said, ‘Who else?’ So that was it. I was in. Now I’m 65 years old, retired, and playing in a punk band with my daughter. Top that.”
Music and family aren’t the only bonds Amanda and Bill share. They’re both Hofstra alums who attended at the same time.
One evening on his way home after class at Nassau Community College, Bill Mac spotted a sign on Hempstead Turnpike about enrolling at Hofstra. Three semesters later, Amanda, now 30 and a full-time actress and singer, joined him, beginning her first year at Hofstra.
Dad and daughter had different schedules and different majors (Bill was a rhetoric major, Amanda studied performance and literature), but their circles of friends overlapped.
“I’d see my friends hanging out on campus, huddled in a circle. I would walk over, and my dad would be in the middle,” Amanda remembers. “I used to joke that
my friends would only hang with me to get to my dad.”
Bill Mac comes from a family of musicians and has performed with his daughter virtually her entire life. They did community theater while she was growing up, and continued performing together at Hofstra, in the shows Cabaret and Footloose.
“I was always in the pit, and she was on stage,” Bill said. “She’s just kickin’ it. I couldn’t be prouder.”
Not long after Bill joined Madame X, they decided it was time to write their own songs. But a new creative journey required a new name, something that would do the band’s high-energy punk vibe justice.
They went through countless options, Bubble Puppy and Atomic 36 among them. None felt right.
David was on his way to work one morning about 6:30 a.m. Stopped at a traffic light under the Unispan, it hit him.
“I called up Mike and Amanda and said, “I got it! Bad Mary!” Cranky and half-awake, Amanda immediately hated it. But the name checked every one of their boxes:
- Easily understandable when yelled across a parking lot
Amanda changed her mind. They became Bad Mary.
Drawing influence from bands like Blondie, The Ramones, and Green Day (one of Mike’s personal favorites), Bad Mary created a brand of punk they describe as “New York in the ’70s but with a modern vibe.”
Their first full-length album, Better Days – self-produced and basement-recorded – was released in 2013.
They would then go on to work with Studio G and Fred Kevorkian, who previously mastered for The White Stripes, Iggy Pop, and Debbie Harry. Bad Mary was living the dream – performing all over Long Island and New York City, and even scoring air time on U.S., U.K., and Australian radio.
“It was Christmas Eve 2014 or ’15. Mike, my dad, and I were standing in the kitchen, listening to Long Island 90.3 FM,” Amanda said. “The clock struck midnight
and our version of ‘Silent Night’ started playing. My mind exploded.”
It wasn’t a date. They’d known each other for years, after all.
That night in August 2010, Mike and Amanda had tickets to see the Broadway rock opera American Idiot. As friends.
After the show, they got drenched in a downpour. They’ve been inseparable ever since.
Four years after that first not-date, they got engaged. In 2016, they were married.
“When you work with people on something as personal and creative as music, you end up getting to know them more than you would otherwise,” said Mike, who works full time as a web coordinator for Midtown Comics. “Writing music is a doorway into who I am. And being able to share that with Amanda is great.”
“There’s nothing better than performing with the people you love,” said Mike. “It’s caffeine. It’s nonstop energy.”
Bad Mary still practices in David Henderson’s basement in Kings Park, on the North Shore of Long Island. And they still make time for the place that brought them together.
Amanda still remembers the day they got the text from David with the news: Bad Mary had been invited to play Hofstra’s 2017 Fall Festival.
“It was a really cool feeling,” she said. “I felt like I was going home.”