Can four seniors at Chantilly High School become the next big rock band? Northern Virginia may not have a nationwide reputation for producing successful rock bands, but the members of Second Nature are betting the band that they'll make it big.
"Our goal is to get signed or get very close to getting signed before the end of the summer, so that way we can all stay together," says Jordan Waddell, the lead singer.
FOR A QUARTET that's only existed since October 2005, they make a tidy ensemble. John Holton plays bass, Angelo Soares is on guitar, and Josh Cockrell is the drummer. John, Josh, and Angelo have been playing together as Second Nature for a year, but Jordan joined the group last October.
The name of the band comes from an unlikely source: "We picked up this notepad, and it said 'second nature' on the front, because it was recyclable," says Josh. They like the name because it's open to interpretation.
What makes this band different than any other high school garage band in the area? To begin with, they've played at local venues including Ned Devine's in Herndon and Red Rocks in Centreville. They also have put together a press kit, which includes a five-track demo, a short biography, and Second Nature guitar picks. They're hoping that kit will get one of their tracks played on DC101's Local Lix show (Sundays at 9 p.m.), and get them a gig at TT Reynold's in Fairfax.
But the clock is ticking. The band members have agreed that if they don't get signed by the end of the summer, they're going to go their separate ways.
"We're going to work as hard as we can for the next few months, and if we get somewhere then we get somewhere," says Jordan.
The band members have made alternative plans for the future, should they not get signed. Josh, John and Angelo will go to community college, and continue their music careers through education.
"I'll be living near Austin, which is the live music capital of the U.S.," says John. Angelo and Josh will attend Blue Ridge Community College. Jordan has perhaps the most ambitious goal of all: "I'm going to L.A. to try to act or be a rock star."
All of their parents are supportive of their current path and their future goals. "My parents just want to make sure that I'm in control of my own success," says Jordan. "They obviously want me to go to school, but if this happens for us, then it won't be a question."
Angelo's dad is in local band called Falling Sideways. "I've been around my dad's band my whole life," says Angelo. "He helps me out a lot trying to get places to play and contacts." Josh's dad is the chorus director at Chantilly High School, and he gives Jordan singing lessons and Angelo guitar lessons.
JORDAN MET the rest of the band members through Josh's father. "I asked Jordan to come try out with us," says Josh. Angelo and Josh have known each other since seventh grade, and Angelo and John have been friends since freshman year.
Their musical influences vary widely, from Incubus to Beethoven. Collectively, they cite the Red Hot Chili Peppers as influential, but when asked how they would classify their style of music, they all agree that they can't place it. On their Web site, their genre is listed as Rock/Alternative/Other. It's not surprising, since each of them listens to and admires different artists.
"I mainly like listening to Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers," says John. He also listens to Underoath and Fall of Troy. "Steve Vai really influenced my style," says Angelo, who has also been influenced by Beethoven and Yngwie Malmsteen — "a speed metal virtuoso." Jordan admires Brandon Boyd from Incubus, Adam Levine from Maroon 5, and Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Josh says he's been influenced by jazz drummer Buddy Rich, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and he listens to 311 and Incubus.
There's no shortage of confidence among these musicians. "On our Web site, I wrote that we're going to take over the local band scene in the next three months," says Jordan, adding, "I think that you gotta be ambitious." They don't compare themselves to other high school bands, citing the lack of competition. The Battle of the Bands at Chantilly High School is on May 19, and Jordan says, "We're definitely going to win, there's no question." Angelo elaborates, "The most competition we had was the Washmen at our school," a band that recently lost two members and is not currently performing.
THE BAND members are comfortable playing live. "I don't get nervous," says Josh, who's used to performing as the captain of the indoor drum line at Chantilly High School. "I've been singing all my life," says Jordan. Angelo isn't susceptible to nerves either, but says that during one of their early live performances, his amp and guitar "freaked out," and his performance went downhill from there. Fortunately, such an incident hasn't happened since.
The band has a solid half hour of music written already, and is constantly creating more. "Angelo does most of the writing," says Jordan. Often, the guitar melody will come from Angelo first, and then lyrics will be added by all band members. "We've been doing a lot of creating lately," says Josh. During our interview, the band played several songs, including "Walk on By," "Year of the Squirrel," "Lend a Hand," and "Red October," a song named after the band's search for a missing hacky sack.
To hear a sample of the Second Nature's music, buy a demo CD ($2), or learn of upcoming shows, visit their Web site at www.purevolume.com\\secondnatureVA.