A group of six Puyallup teen musicians met at a birthday party last December and decided to form a band. Less than a year later, under the name Insuburban Avenue, they are playing shows together all over western Washington and have potential national exposure within their grasp, if they can raise the money.
All of them found music in different ways. TJ Wheeler, the band’s 17-year-old drummer, got into music when he asked his father if he could join the school band in 2006. Avery Johnston, the band’s 13-year-old lead guitarist, picked up his first guitar when he was 4, and his passion has been nurtured ever since.
Jon Howard, 17-year-old bassist, became passionate for music after he watched Fall of Troy play at Bumbershoot. Howard said he was impressed by the “intensity” of the show, and he wanted to know how it felt to be on stage.
Bree Leaitu, the 13-year-old lead singer, said she got her start when she sang along to the radio with her father on her way to daycare.
The band members describe themselves as an alternative rock band, but they all draw on different influences.
Wheeler said he’s influenced by grunge and alternative bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana. Johnston said he’s influenced by the classic rock his parents raised him with, like Led Zeppelin.
The six of them hold their practices in a shed in Wheeler’s back yard. Like most teens, they joke around a lot.
“We spend most of our time in here, insulting each other’s mothers,” Howard said.
It’s also where they hone their talents and write material. They said the writing process is a collaborative one, with the musicians writing notes for their instruments, and Leaitu coming up with lyrics to suit the music.
Wheeler’s father Carey, who has acted as the band’s booking agent and has shuttled them to shows across the state, said everything changed this spring at a show at Louie G’s Pizza in Fife. The young rockers got the attention of one of the audience members, Producer David DeLay of Grandpa’s R.V. Productions.
DeLay has been working on producing a reality TV show following Tacoma rock band Riot in Rhythm entitled “Riot in Rhythm: The Making of Rock Stars,” and he hopes to feature music videos from other up-and-coming bands to air with the show.
DeLay approached Insuburban Avenue to tell them he was impressed by their performance, and he hoped they could produce a music video to air.
The band was enthusiastic about the opportunity. The only problem was money.
Filming a professional-quality music video isn’t cheap, and with the youngest members of the group too young even to legally work, they had no idea how to get the money to make good on the opportunity.
That’s when they turned to Kickstarter, an online fundraising site aimed primarily at raising money for artists and musicians to fund independent projects that otherwise would not receive sufficient financial backing.
The band started its fundraiser with a $2,500 goal. Significant backers will receive perks and prizes ranging from merchandise to the opportunity to appear in the video.
The band has played more than 20 shows together. Howard said it would be his ultimate dream to be able to make a living playing music full-time.
“To have this as our job would be great,” he said.
As of Monday afternoon, the band had received $575 in pledges of their $2,500 goal. The Kickstarter campaign will run through Sept. 4. Visit www.kickstarter.com under search word “insuburban.”