Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Meet the Robotix, Southlake’s pint-sized, pre-teen rockers
Age is a but a number for these Southlake guitar shredders.
SOUTHLAKE In the upstairs game room of 13-year-old Jared Devino’s home in Southlake, he and his four band mates find some space to squeeze in a rehearsal.
The room is just big enough to hold the five children with their instruments, not to mention the talent each of them bring to the room.
The house is usually reserved for practice when just three members are rehearsing. But on this Saturday afternoon, the room will suffice for the full lineup.
After all, when two band members are brought in from other parts of the world for just two weeks, you practice when you can.
The Robotix are setting out to show the world that they are not just another kid band. And with the venues they have played in and the appearances they have made, people are believing them.
The Robotix lineup actually began nearly three years ago as an all-star band out of the Southlake-based For Those About to Rock School. It included bass player Devino, drummer Logan "Robot" Gladden from North Richland Hills, now 8, and rhythm guitar player Brendan James from Grapevine, now 11.
Music began at an early age for this trio. In fact, Gladden said he first started banging the drums at the age of 1. Devino said he was 2 when he first started playing bass, and James said his musical interest began at 3.
As part of the For Those About to Rock Junior All-Star Band, they played about 100 shows. That included Liberty Fest in May 2011 in which it opened for bands such as Rick Springfield and Spin Doctors. Nearly 10,000 people were at the show, by far The Robotix’ largest crowd.
The biggest highlight of that event was being invited on stage during Springfield’s set, where Devino, Gladden, and James played their respective instruments while Springfield sang.
Seeing that this group already had the potential to make it big at such an early age, the band, with help from their parents, sought out a top vocalist once its previous one left. They also looked for a lead guitar player to round out the band.
That search led to Los Angeles where they found 11-year-old Angelina Baez, 11, to belt out the lyrics. And the search reached Japan, where they found Yuto Miyazawa, 12, who is equally vocal through his lead guitar playing.
In fact, Miyazawa took an already-solid group and has bolted it to the next level with his growing world-wide fame.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Miyazawa became the youngest professional guitar player in the world at the age of 8. Two years ago, he toured with Ozzy Osbourne, playing alongside him on songs such as “Crazy Train” and “Mr. Crowley” during six shows.
“I wasn’t nervous,” said Miyazawa, who is still learning English. “It was very fun.”
He has appeared twice on the TV talk show Ellen.
And his YouTube videos get more than one million hits as he plays covers of various hits such as “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix.
“We don’t feel left out when people talk about Yuto a lot,” Gladden said. “More people talk about him, but that’s really better for everyone.”
The band knows that should be expected.
“We wanted to get the best guitarist,” Gladden said. “And he’s the youngest pro guitarist in the world.”
While Miyazawa’s phenom status is one drawing point to the band, another focus inevitably has been the members’ youth.
“That’s usually the first thing people say,” Devino said. “They say, ‘How do you do that?’ Sometimes they tell us that they’re jealous because their kids aren’t at that level or because they didn’t start playing until they were older. They think this is awesome.”
But being young hasn’t stopped The Robotix from playing at some respectable venues.
On August 7, the band played a show at Trees in Dallas, the first time the full lineup played together. Also at the show was rising star Zoe Ann, also from Southlake.
“It was kind of nerve racking,” James said. “But once you’ve done it as many times as we have, in a sense you get used to it.”
Baez said she is still getting used to the attention.
“There were about 150 people there,” Baez said. “That helped me since there were people there to cheer for us.
“These guys have experienced people coming up to them and wanting a picture or wanting them to sign their arm,” Baez said. “But this was my first time.”
The band performed live on KVIL radio show “Not So Perfect Radio Show” on August 8.
And on August 13, the band performed live on WFAA’s Good Morning Texas. There, The Robotix played three songs. Two of them are off their upcoming debut album, which, according the band, "rocks."
In fact, they are quick to point out The Robotix is a rock band.
“We have some slow stuff in our songs,” Gladden said.
“But even our slow stuff turns into rock,” Devino said.
They have had some help from big-time musicians along the way. Aaron Sterling, who has been the drummer for John Mayer and other bands, became familiar with Gladden years ago and has followed his progress ever since.
He has co-written and produced the band’s upcoming debut album, which is in the process of getting mastered. The album is a five-song EP and includes the single, “Psych,” which can be downloaded on iTunes.
The album, which is set to be released later this year, also contains two covers: “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin and “Kids Wanna Rock” by Bryan Adams.
The band tends to lean on classic rock bands for its inspiration.
“Some of our influences are Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones,” James said. “We’re starting to write our own music, and we put a lot of that into what we write.”
Though much of the process had to be done remotely. Baez’ vocals, for example, were recorded in Los Angeles and later mixed into the rest of the music.
Jon Casel, the band’s music director since January, played Miyazawa’s part of the music until he arrived in Texas.
Being so young also presents time challenges. After all, they each have several years left of school. And now that school is about to start, the performances and rehearsals are slowing down. For now.
“We try to get together in the summer, weekends and school breaks,” Gladden said. “School is most important.”
Casel himself has made an impact on The Robotix at a young age. He was 14 when he took over as the band’s music director. He has seen first-hand what has put The Robotix on a fast track to success.
“It’s a mixture of a ton of talent, good attitude, and good musicianship,” said Casel, also a Southlake resident. “Most of them picked up an instrument before I did. To see them when they just started out and then watch them progress as musicians and as people is just awesome. Especially on stage when they blow people away.”
For information on the band, go to www.therobotix.com.
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