It was a gut-punch — loud, uncomplicated rock and roll, the pure stuff the Who and AC/DC cranked out in their prime: soaring guitar solos, follicle-raising power chords, blistering drum solos, bone-shaking bass riffs and spot-on vocals, and it was coming from the skate park from a band born while George W. Bush was president.
At first glance I thought it might be karaoke. These kids didn’t look old enough to shave. Those ringing guitar solos? Those brawny vocals? That kid couldn’t possibly be singing, could he?
He could. They can. They are.
Haunted by Heroes is real; real young and real good. An apparent last-minute addition to teen day at the fair, Haunted by Heroes, three of which just turned 13, have a record deal and looked like the future of rock and roll on Friday night.
This is no boy band. Don’t expect any choreographed dance moves or matching jump suits.
Instead, Haunted by Heroes delivered a strong set of original material inspired by their heroes, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, et al.
The heroes would approve. These guys mastered their instruments early, and possess the sound, the looks, the moves and importantly, the spirit of rock and roll, seemingly minus the destructive stuff.
They hail from Pacifica, the product of rock band parents. Their manager bills them as the world’s youngest touring rock band.
The front men are Nick, on bass guitar and lead vocals, and Max, on lead guitar.
Charley plays rhythm guitar. Nick’s brother Chris anchors the whole affair on drums. No last names please.
They seem born to the task. Nick and Max maintain a visceral kinetic energy at the front of the stage. Behind them, Chris is all over the drums. The result is hard-driving, old school, top shelf rock and roll.
Haunted by Heroes regularly plays the Roxy and Whiskey A Go Go nightclubs in Hollywood. In San Francisco, they play the Fillmore and Slims.
Other high visibility gigs include the Today show and America’s Got Talent, where they were joined on stage by Dee Snidner of Twisted Sister. They also grace the pages of the June issue of Guitar Player Magazine.
That’s not bad for a band that met at day care. Brothers Nick and Chris have been playing since they were 8. Their prior band, the Thrashers, played the Whiskey while they were just 9, the youngest band ever to play the famous club.
At the skate park, the Heroes pounded out a head bashing set of originals for a mix of familiar fans and the curious, drawn in by the big sound.
The boys closed with a pair of rock anthems: Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out,” and a passionate rendition of the Who’s “Won’t be Fooled Again.”
With Chris digging into an extended drum solo that would have made Keith Moon proud, Max raised his ax overhead in the waning light and struck the final chord. I worried that he might be channeling Pete Townsend’s destructive side when a guitar tech, or perhaps it was just his dad, lifted the Gibson from his arms.
They play three to four gigs per month and insist they are still normal kids, with homework, basketball, and skateboarding on their minds. But with girls now flocking to their shows, things stand to get a little more complicated pretty soon.
Check them out on the usual social media outlets or in the flesh at their home gig, the Pacifica Fog Fest in September.