I’m a seventeen year-old high school kid and I’ve been writing for Antiquiet since I was fifteen. I’ve always loved reading articles about my heroes in bands, bands with platinum records and sold out world tours. I never thought anyone here would ever take the time to hear about what my friends and I have been doing in my garage over the past few years. However, I was recently put on the spot, and told that no one else can tell this type of story right now. There’s a common notion that today’s youth are estranged from good music. We don’t have a Cobain or a Lennon to guide us, we’ve been left with Bieber and Cyrus. But there are a few of us that still understand what rock and roll really is, and we’re trying our best to stick to it. This is the story of my adventures over the last three years. Here’s what’s going down out here, at least for one kid, in one band, in high school, in 2014.
When you’re in high school, it’s easy to get inspired. Whether this be from an individual or a concept, high school is known as prime time for “finding yourself” …or something like that. Personally, I had the impulse to learn the guitar after listening to classic rock; Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc. I talked to my younger brother, who had been banging on shit around the house since he was an infant, and asked if he wanted to try learning the drums. He was instantly onboard. I texted a mutual friend, who we knew played guitar something, and he texted back, “sure.” We had a band. I was fourteen years old and the others were twelve.
We quickly found out that being in a band isn’t a one-way ticket to coolsville. Initially, we were shit on by our peers. A musical act that doesn’t include synthetic beats and auto-tune? Who would do that? Most kids do get their influence straight from today’s mainstream acts, like Jay-Z and Kanye West. So if they’re writing songs, they’re just telling exaggerated tales of gang violence and drug deals. We knew from the start we wanted to write songs about real life, something actually relatable to kids like us. Whether directly to our faces or behind our backs, people threw around words like “gay” and “retarded.”
It took a full year and a half of practicing, actually buying a bass guitar, and writing a series of mediocre songs (most of which would ultimately be cut from the set) before people started to tolerate our idea of formulating something of a gritty, underground punk scene in a suburb where taking a step out of the established status quo is weird.
Eventually, we started to get a little encouragement. People started showing up to the few shows we were able to put together ourselves. Kids finally had something to do besides give themselves alcohol poisoning on a Friday night. We began to gather something of a following in our little world. Yet we struggled to find any more respectable venues to play. We resorted to performing in my own garage twice. No one wanted to host a few sweaty kids struggling to play instruments in their basement, let alone in a real music venue of course. I found myself sending hundreds of emails to local clubs and cafés, receiving only a single response that ultimately turned out to be a bust. Finally, after a plea for a basement on our Facebook page, someone offered us an actual gig, a house show.
The ensuing show was scheduled for a freezing cold day in early February. As per the protocol for most of our shows, the basement was almost entirely empty at 7 PM, when we were supposed to start. There was no opening band to take the fall for us, so we waited. We didn’t start playing until around 7:30, when about fifteen very different types of people were standing around in a basement surrounded by people they didn’t know. We began our set with our original track My Fault, a song that tells the story of someone that always finds themselves on the hot seat, regardless of the situation (But you won’t / ‘Cuz you always get what you want / But you won’t / ‘Cuz everything’s my fault).
We immediately ran into our first technical problem: My microphone was off. About a minute into the song, I suddenly realized that I couldn’t hear any of the words that were coming out of my mouth. Still playing, I began to look around to see what was wrong. Was the PA off? Was something not plugged in? Finally, I found the issue. The switch on my mic was in the off position. Problem solved.
We played for a full hour, a set comprised of original songs, Blink-182 covers (Dammit) and even an Elvis Presley cover (Hound Dog). Despite the freezing temperatures outside the house, the basement was hot. Like, really hot. By the time we were finished, there were about thirty kids in what had turned into a smoky sweat lodge. At that point, people weren’t ready to leave. They wanted more. For the first time since forming the band, I felt proud for having the audacity and the perseverance to work so hard and I was starting to finally find some sort of a reward.
We brought up a few (far more talented) friends to help us play some more songs. I handed off my guitar and took the mic off the stand, assuming a new role of just a vocalist. We played for an hour and a half longer, performing cover songs like Don’t Stop Believing and Baba O’Riley. Soon, I had gone through three bottles of water and was on the verge of collapsing from exhaustion. But I had never felt so amazing. Performing gives me a thrill I had yet to feel before forming the band. There’s nothing quite like it. Someone filmed a few songs of that evening, and there was even a “review” posted somewhere.
We called ourselves White Noise. We’re kids that make a sometimes unnecessary amount of commotion in people’s basements; we tell stupid dick jokes between (and sometimes during) songs; we try and give everyone music that’s fun to dance to; we try to bring people together for nights that’ll be fun, regardless of the turnout.
It’s sad to see something I’ve put so much into over the past few years come to an end once I head off to college in a few months, but in retrospect, it’s been a truly special and unique experience that most kids my age don’t get. In an ideal world, before the end of the road, we will have a full-length record out and a solid amount of shows under out belt. We don’t want to sell a million records or do an international arena tour, we just want to put something out there and have fun doing it. In our minds, that is the ultimate definition of success.
Editor’s note: We wanted Zac to tell this story to put us onto that stage, or into that living room, where he stands with his friends and plays music. We saw the opportunity to tell a story that isn’t being told anywhere else. We wanted to know how different it is to be a kid in a band in high school in 2014, versus how it was when we were his age. We were inspired to find a lot of similarities, despite who is on the Billboard charts today. It was not our intent to let a young writer plug his own band. This kid has written for us for two years now and has never once even brought it up. With that said, we wish Zac all the best, and think he deserves some clicks from any of you who aren’t complete dicks. Here’s some video from that gig he talked about, and here’s a three-song EP from his band.