Have you heard of Sugar Rush Rocks yet? Probably not — they are a band out of Gloucester County, New Jersey, and the members are ages 12 through 16. Their repertoire includes songs by some of rocks hardest hitters — Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue and Guns N Roses. One thing this band is not is shy.
I first heard of them last week through Kathy DiTondo, who is the co-author, along with Keith Levene, of the book “I was a Teen Guitarist 4 The Clash.” The book tells the first-person story of Levene, at age 17, playing with English punks, The Clash.
To mark the 40th anniversary of punk, DIY and independence in the arts, DiTondo has planned a concert — A Teen Clash Party featuring Sugar Rush Rocks — that will be broadcast live on upnext.fm/punk Saturday, June 25, beginning at 3 p.m. from Trio Travern in Williamstown, N.J. As well as the band playing, there will be readings from her book. Other shows are being planned for July 29 at Dublin Castle, London.
Band members are Michael Sebastian, 12, lead guitar; RJ Hill, 13, drums; Joey Fattore, 15, rhythm guitar; Jake Brightman, 14, bass; and Paige Nickole, 16, vocals.
As a lead up to it, after listening to Sugar Rush Rocks, I had the opportunity to interview Michael Sebastian. He was quite a fun interview. I’m very impressed with how accomplished and confident he is at his young age. Here is what he had to say about himself, the band and the show.
I started playing at 7 years old.
Wow! Did you take lessons?
Yes. I take lessons from my teacher, Tedd. He has been teaching me since I started.
Why did you want to play guitar?
At first I wanted to play the drums. My parents bought me a small drum set when I was 2 years old. I played around on the drums and watched Motley Crue videos and would copy them. Then I decided I wanted to play guitar too. My aunt got me a guitar when I was 5. Then when I turned 7, she got me an electric guitar.
Does anyone in your family play instruments too?
My dad used to play piano when he was little, but doesn’t remember any of it. My 10-year-old brother Vincent plays the drums and bass.
So musical talent runs in your family … What is your favorite style of music and your favorite bands?
I love 80’s rock the best but all kinds of rock. My favorite bands are Cinderella, Guns N Roses, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Nirvana, Bowling for Soup, Green Day and Foo Fighters. I also like Elvis.
Oh, me too! Elvis has always been my favorite. Do you play any of his songs, and do you sing?
No, I don’t sing, I am too nervous to play guitar and try to sing at the same time. Afraid I will mess up playing if I try to sing. I do play “Jailhouse Rock.”
That’s a really good song. Do you play it with your band?
No not yet.
Is Sugar Rush Rocks your first band?
How did you join the band?
My mom works at a school and ran the talent show. Some of the kids played instruments. I always wanted to start a band so I got some of the kids together and that was the beginning of Sugar Rush Rocks.
How long have you been a band?
Since 2012, but we’ve been playing out since 2014.
How often do you practice and how often do you play shows?
I practice everyday & the band gets together every Saturday or during the week if we have a show on Saturday. It depends, but most of the time we have gigs every couple of weeks.
That’s great. So tell me about the show next weekend.
It’s at Trio Tavern in Williamstown. We are all really excited because we haven’t played there in a while and it’s always a fun place to play, but we are also excited because of the live stream!
Are other bands to play too?
No, just us playing at Trio that day.
Ok, and there will be readings from Kathy DiTondo’s book on Keith Levene of the Clash?
The show is being live streamed from Trio Tavern to New York and all the way to London. It’s an event celebrating 40 years of punk music. Yes, our singer Paige will be reading parts from the book Kathy wrote.
Kathy has supported us ever since she saw our videos. She asked us if we would be interested and we were so excited we couldn’t wait.
Nice! Are you a fan of The Clash?
Yes, I recently started getting into them. My favorite Clash song is “London Calling.”
That is a proper good tune! Can you play it?
I just started messing around with it.
That will be great when you can. Any other new tunes you want to learn?
We’ve been working on some Sex Pistols songs and I’ve been messing around with Rush.
Oh, “God Save the Queen”?
Cool. I’ll look forward to hearing that. Well, can you think of anything to tell me that I missed?
My favorite guitarists are Tom Keifer and Slash. I like playing video games, skateboarding and riding BMX bikes.
If you weren’t playing music, what kind of job would you want to have?
Video game programmer.
That would be a great alternate career. Well, I want to thank you for talking to me tonight. Thank you very much!
You’re welcome. I’m so excited! This was so cool. Thank you for talking to me. Talk to you soon.
More details about the event can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/135812060170539/ and on the web at https://upnext.fm/r/punk. The band is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Sugar-Rush-Rocks and on Twitter at @SugarRushRocks and on the web at http://www.sugarrushrocks.com/.
More details on the July 29 show in London at http://thedublincastle.com/.