MAGAZINE: Banding Together

From The Bark magazine, Fall 2011 In this era of social media and cheap recording technology, it’s becoming ever easier for young musicians to introduce their sounds to the world’s ears. In 2003, social networking service MySpace opened its cyber doors, and before long, musicians began using the website as a vehicle to display their music. Strictly music-oriented sites such as Soundcloud, Pure Volume, and Band Camp have recently followed, allowing anybody with an instrument and a microphone to express themselves musically. Even before the MySpace era, Bearden High School produced some substantial musicians, including Mike Underdown, a founding member of alternative-metal band 10 Years, Aaron and Justin Hoskins of the Dirty Guv’nahs, and, perhaps most famously, Weezer guitarist Brian Bell. Now, even more students are becoming involved in music. This past May, alternative rock group Traveling Mercies released their debut EP, Nightmares. According to guitarist and BHS junior Joel Weber, the group is moving rather quickly. “We haven’t even been around a year yet,” Weber says. “We’ve played a couple of shows, and we’re actually kind of growing fast in the past couple of months.” In contrast, many student musicians are garnering their first exposure in playing music, like the band Blessed Conviction who are in the first phases of creation. “[We’re in] the stage before you start the band,” drummer Nick Thomas, a sophomore, jokingly says. Guitarist Jesse Alunni, also a sophomore, adds more seriously that Blessed Conviction is in its “covering” stage, playing songs originally by other bands in order to get experience. Of course, conventional bands aren’t the only music forms around. As electronica music has made its presence felt in the serious music world, young people, such as amateur Dubstep producer and Bearden sophomore Parker Dodson, have begun to catch on. “[I was exposed to electronica] pretty recently, probably over the past year,” Dodson (known as Pdoddy15 on Soundcloud) says. “I started listening to Daft Punk first, and it kind of progressed from there.” For many of these musicians, their exposure to music occurred at a young age. “I was always really attracted to it,” Dodson, originally a guitarist, says. “Every time I saw an instrument, I just wanted to play it, ever since I was a little kid.” While some may view the infatuation with music by teens as a simple phase or hobby, countless acts have proved that this simply isn’t the case. Groups and solo acts across the musical spectrum, from Canadian teen pop sensation Justin Bieber to Floridian head-bangers Black Tide, proved that even the youngest people can make music a career. “[My first exposure to music] would probably be when I was around 10 and I started playing guitar as I started listening to music,” Weber says. “I decided that’s what I wanted to see if I could learn and do and master, so that kind of developed into the band today. I’ve thought about it as a career. If there was any chance of it actually being developed and working out for me, then I would probably do that.” Weber also adds that he has other plans should he find, as countless other aspiring acts have found, that he can’t make it in the music industry. In addition to opening career doors, music also helps in every day life. From school to social activities, student musicians can count music as a benefit. “I can apply music making to other things, like how I want to tackle a project, because the dubstep songs take days at a time [to make],” Dodson says. “Music is something to talk about, because it’s kind of a universal thing, and so it brings people together,” Weber adds. “You can find a common theme with music, so that helps you in life.” So how much farther do these young talents see their current projects going? “[We’re the] next [Led] Zeppelin,” Alunni says with a smile. Hey, you never know. Jack H. Evans is a staff writer for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter @BeardenBARK, and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.