AYER — They’ve headlined a regional talent show, won some studio time for the band, and have had over 5,000 hits on their MySpace page in less than a year.
No doubt about it, these are some interesting times for the quintet of Ayer High School students who comprise the alternative rock band known as Hudlin.
“This is kind of a big deal for us,” said 15-year-old singer/songwriter Jessenia Moreira, who co-founded the group with guitarist and classmate Jory Adams just over a year ago.
The duo met in fifth grade, while playing saxophone in the school band. It turned out Adams wasn’t a big fan of that instrument — he only pretended to play — but he took a liking to guitar shortly after.
Conversely, Moreira comes from a musical family, with a mother who sings and a father with an in-home studio. She recorded her first song in preschool, and she’s written lyrics for five others since she and Adams founded Hudlin last December. She also came up with the band name, which stems from the vacant old Hudlin house near Adams’ home, where they usually practice.
While there’s been some fluctuation of other band members since its inception, the current lineup includes rhythm guitarist Jacob Brown, who learned about the group through its MySpace page, and his older brother Tyler, a high school senior who plays bass and is the only non-freshman in the group. Rounding out the band is drummer Anthony Adams, who joined a couple of months ago, but has been a good fit by all accounts.
Roster changes aside, the fledging band played a half-dozen small gigs around the area in the past year and posted four tunes on the band’s Myspace page (www.myspace.com/whitehourband). While the do play some cover songs (by groups like the Arctic Monkeys) Moreira said the focus is on building their original songbook and getting those tunes recorded.
Hudlin plans to spend part of Christmas break putting together a demo CD, using four hours of studio time they won in late November for being the headline act at the semi-annual Future Stars Showcase at the Bull Run in Shirley.
While Hudlin “won” the studio time and earned just over $400 from the showcase, event co-founder Steve Gaetz eschewed using competitive language to describe the event, saying “battles of the bands” are often gimmicks that unscrupulous promoters use for getting young musicians to play for free.
Gaetz said this 18-and-under showcase was a not-for-profit fundraiser, which chose nine finalists out of 30 applicants, but determined the headliner on the basis of which band sold the most tickets for the event. As the proprietor of a Leominster-based production company Bedlam Productions, he said that sort of activity is important practical experience.
“We try to teach them what it will be like when you’re out there in the real world, and one of the things you have to learn is being able to promote your shows,” he said.
Half of the proceeds from the event were given to musical charities, while the other half went to the band that sold the tickets, said Gaetz. He said the main idea is giving something back to young musicians, saying the event is made possible by support from City Music of Leominster and Gardener, and the Bull Run donating space for the event.
All told, Hudlin sold 80 out of 300 tickets for the event, and Moreira said they’ll probably use the prize money to promote the band through T-shirts and copies of their demo CD.
The parents of the young rockers are already among the group’s biggest fans, working together to arrange transportation and providing room for them to play, said Jessenia’s mother, Christine Moreira-Jones. She estimated the teens spend several hours a week practicing, adding that she’s very proud of how motivated her daughter and bandmates were to sell tickets.
“It’s a really good learning experience for them to work together, make compromises and work as a team,” she said. “It’s kind of like when you go into business with people and you have different personalities and you have to make that work.”
As for Gaetz, he said the next talent showcase will be held around Easter time and applications should be available at City Music in Gardner and Leominster by February.