High School Bands

In this age of rap and pop galore, it’s no doubt that we have seen a huge decline in punk or, more importantly, rock music. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, everyone was on board the rock and roll express. But now, it’s clear to see that the express has slowed to a snail’s pace. This leaves we high schoolers trying to pursue a career we’ve idolized from bands such as Metallica, Nirvana, and the Beatles to name a few– it’s the feeling of being part of a band who tours and travels the world to perform music. Now the dream is so much harder than how it used to be due to the autotuned synths and voices of pop and the “dumbed down phone users” of the recent age. With the new wave of “mumbled rappers” (such as Lil Pump, 6ix9ine, and Lil Uzi Vert) taking over the music scene, it’s clear to see rock is dying. As a singer in an alt-rock band, Black Light Dreams, I find it difficult to get a good start in Marin.


Even though there have been bands such as Huey Lewis and The News, Grateful Dead, Satana, who have all started from Marin and have had fantastic careers. Bassist of BLD, Alessandro Lovo, suggests to aspiring rockstars, “ Have patience, because it’s not gonna just come to you. It doesn’t work like that. You have to put effort. You can’t half-ass being in a band. You’ll be disappointed.”  I also know many other people in the high school rocker community as well guitarist Max Lobato (in the metal band, Nobody for President) made a point saying, “Marin has very few places where you can advertise. I mean, there is the Magic Flute and Bananas at Large, but really it’s hard to find an audience without having to travel all the way to another city. Especially with most high schoolers only going to shows with big names or festivals.”


The problem isn’t as big in San Francisco, and Oakland has venues for beginning bands (924 Gilman is the most recognizable of them). But in the city of San Rafael, venues are limited for young bands. What exists though are venues who don’t really correlate with rock music or gigs who won’t accommodate for high schoolers due to being for members 21+.  Bass player Sam Miller for rock band See Thru You (abbreviated as C/U) said, “There needs to be an easier way to get gigs locally; really the only place you could go is the Farmers Market or the carnival that comes in the summer. It’s sad to see so many bands get so discouraged due to how little support they have.” If you don’t know anyone in the music industry or who knows people to give you connections, your dream is now ten times harder. Another reason is the funding for their band. Cesar Morales, drummer for Black Light Dreams, says, “Having the right equipment is such a difficult factor; due to us being teenagers, we don’t really have the best income. If you don’t already have a studio, amps, pedals, and instruments. It just once again makes them mad and discouraged which causes them to quit.”  


So: what are some possible solutions? A Battle of the Bands for Marin? This might help people who are struggling find a name for themselves out there. It could also give them a chance to meet musicians and people who could help. .Being a musician takes time and patience. You can’t jump in thinking that you’ll be touring immediately, you could also say another problem is the commitment through adversity. Being a teenager, emotions are flying everywhere, I understand it just as well as anyone. Some people just can’t handle the pressure. But if you have confidence in yourself and you want to do something that some people will never do in their life, be in a band. Alessandro reflects, “Being a musician is something special. Writing songs for others to hear, others to enjoy. It’s euphoric. It’s a reason I love it. I also get to spend time with my friends to create a sound that we all enjoy. Especially getting to cherish the moments you spend from writing your first song, to having your first show. It truly is something amazing.”


Finally one thing that I should advice personally to anyone out there wanting to be in a band. Find a community to help you, be friends with other musicians around you. Having connections and people to help you is the most important part of being a musician. Music is something that should be cherished, it should be performed and written with love. Music shouldn’t be the repetitive nature of how it is now.


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