Compared to many other musicians, Todd Bell got kind of a late start. He more than made up for it, however, when the second band he ever played in would up becoming one of the most influential emo bands of all time. After first picking up a bass in his early 20s and playing a few house shows in a band he formed with a skating buddy, Bell wound up in the rhythm section of a little project known as Braid. The rest was history.

Despite being under quarantine, Bell has been keeping extremely busy with parenting duties and his day job as a special education teacher. Still, he found enough time recently to get on a video chat with My First Band host Tyler Maas and—despite battling a few technological issues—tell him about finding a group of like-minded friends as a teenager in the Illinois college town of Champaign, his decision to take up bass guitar, the unlikely start (and most memorable experiences) of Braid, his time in Hey Mercedes, Braid’s second stint, and what prompted his move to Milwaukee more than 20 years ago.

My First Band is sponsored by Mystery Room Mastering. The show is edited by Jared Blohm. You can listen to My First Band on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and wherever else you get podcasts. Music used in this show comes courtesy of Devils Teeth (“The Junction Street Eight Tigers”), Hey Mercedes (“Police Police Me”), and Braid (“Milwaukee Sky Rocket”).