Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chicago teen band High Street making its mark


By ERIC SCHELKOPF

The members of Winnetka band High Street play like seasoned veterans.

Their young faces, though, tell a different story. Brothers Kurt Findling,15, Erik Findling,13, Jenny Thompson,15, Billy Hennessy,15, and Jimmy Friedman,15, have to juggle doing homework with playing music. And they are especially busy these days.

After recently releasing its second EP, "Nocturnal," High Street is now in the process of editing its first music video.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the members of this young, talented band.

Q - Great talking to you. I understand you guys are now in process of editing your first music video. How is the process coming and what should people expect from the video?

Kurt - The process is great and it's a lot of fun. The performance part of "Wasted On The Young" was shot in a green screen studio and the second part is being shot next week.

People should expect a very professional look and sound with a funny theme running through it. The lyrics are about a guy wasting his life. That's all I'll say for now.

Our director, Dustin Grove, really has some cool ideas and it'll show High Street's personality.


Q - Many people who have heard the band have expressed amazement when they find out how young you guys are. Do you think you are more talented than other musicians your age?

Jenny - Well, I don't know about that. We've seen a lot of other young bands our age and there is a lot of talented kids and we're friends with many of them.

What really sets us apart I think is that we've been playing together a very long time, almost five years now. The hardest part about a rock band is keeping it together.

We've been together so long that it's second nature. That lets us to do things at our best. That's the difference.

Q - How do you think the band has evolved since first forming in 2007? How would you like to see the band continue to evolve?

Billy - We began as a cover band like many bands do, but that grows old after a while and you really need to start creating to stay interested and keep things fresh.

We also want people to hear what we have to offer, instead of playing other people's music. I'd like to see us continue to write more music that has a lot of appeal to listeners, but also see some success on the business side of things, perhaps go on a regional tour next year.

I am in charge of selecting the tour bus.

Jimmy - I'm new to High Street and I have a lot of background in jazz. Although we have a blues-based rock style, I see us adding some new elements to our next recording. We need to keep layering new colors on the music to define our style.

Q - There's a definite blues influence in your music. How did you guys get turned on to the blues? Who are your biggest influences?

Erik - Kurt and I grew up on rock and roll at home and in the car, everywhere. When High Street got started, we just started playing the covers we liked and they just happened to be blues-based bands like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

Once you start covering those bands, it takes you on a path in that same style. The Stones lead you right to Aerosmith and then Guns N' Roses.

It's like a road map forwards and backwards. If you go backwards from the Stones and The Yardbirds, it takes you to right back here to Chicago with all the Chess Record guys like Buddy Guy, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.

Chicago was at the start of it all and lucky for us, this is where we live

Q - There are so many ways musicians can get out their music these days. How is the band trying to get its music out there?

Kurt - There's two ways really, playing gigs and social media. We're working now on booking more gigs in front of new audiences to build our fan base.

That social media part is very important too. We have a big online presence. We have a website, www.highstreetrocks.com, we have a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, YouTube channel, Sound Cloud and Spotify. Our music is also on iTunes as well.

Q - I understand getting a record deal is the band's biggest dream. What kind of label would the band like to be on? Would you prefer being on an independent label?

Jenny - A record deal would be great no matter if it's a major label or independent. What's important about the record label is that they believe in us and would help us get to the next level with our career.

We want to do what we can to get heard and hopefully more successful.

Q - Is it harder to get gigs because of your age? You've already had some high-profile gigs. Do you still get nervous stepping on stage?

All - No we don't.

Billy - Getting gigs is tougher because of our age. There are some places that just don't want under 21 groups.

But that will change as our audience grows and we build our base. It's just a process.

Jimmy - We actually don't get nervous. There is too much to concentrate on to do your job on stage.

We just want the audience to enjoy the show and we have to deliver or they won't want to see us

Q - How do you see yourself fitting into the Chicago music scene?

Kurt - We'll fit in perfectly. I'd be more worried if we were in L.A. or somewhere else. Like Erik said, this is the home of the blues.

This is the place that launched a big part of rock and roll. Our style falls right into that and Chicago is so big, there is room for High Street to make our mark.

We just have to create great material, put on a great show and the rest will fall into place.