Thursday, October 28, 2004

Long-distance Frontrunner

By Douglas McDaniel

Think you have issues with teens and their overloud music at home?
Imagine this: A wall of sound emanates from the suburbs and more than just escapes the bedroom, it redoubles every space upstairs as earplugs are more than merely necessary, they are a critical safety issue, and the whole neighborhood quakes as Frontrunner rehearses at home.
The five-piece band features Chandler teens whose sound is as forceful and bracing as any racket playing the local circuit, except there is at least one interesting thing to note: Only one of the members is barely even sweet 16.
As this is going on, their parents sit downstairs, smiling sweetly.
Says one of these supportive fathers, Bob Lilly, "At least this way, I know where they are."
Members of the group have been jamming together, in one form or another, since the third grade. The band began in earnest when Austin, 13, and Landon Scates, 15, were tired of sitting on the sidelines and decided to join brothers Jeremy, 14, and Shane Lilly, 16, plus a fifth member of Frontrunner, 14-year-old Ricky Jamison, to rock out. And now, given a proper environment by nurturing adults who treat this effort more like soccer moms than candidates for the usual battles to turn down the volume, Frontrunner has already performed at the Hard Rock Café and places such as Clubhouse, Big Fish Pond, Minderbinder`s.
Think about it: While other kids are being hustled to and fro to soccer and little league games, these moms and dads are running them down to the back alley of some local nightclub to unload equipment, wait around in a smoke-filled room, and then take them back home as they wedge them away from the wannabe groupies.
"At one point we just realized that they were all doing this on their own," says team mother Vicki Scates, who begs to differ with anyone who might believe this has anything to do at all with her own motivational skills, which are considerable (Her daughter, Linsey Taylor, is a top-four Fiesta Bowl Court contestant, going into the final round for the year-end beauty queen).
And yes, they do get the girls, yet another essential reason to rock. As they rehearse, one of their songs they are preparing for a demo, "What I Wanted," blasts through with the resonating force of a teenage Romeo trying to break down the distance between himself and his Juliet.
"It`s about long-distance relationships," says Landon Scates, a student at Corona Del Sol. "It is about trying to be with my girlfriend, talking with her over the Internet, when we are involved in a long-distance relationship."
How long distance?
"Mesa to Chandler," he says.
So be it, long-distance romance, as it pours through your speakers in a cacophony of emotional distortion and longing, remains the essential muse of hard rock, which is why it is so damn loud. But these parents have found that, as a motivational force, there is nothing better than music to keep their kids eyes on future day jobs.
"They have always been so motivated for music," father Lilly says, "We use that to get them to do their homework."

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