Nick Morper, Jacob Elder, Ian Aleman, Shyaer Parvez aren’t ordinary rockers. Between gigs, they have to do chores, algebra homework, basketball practice and school. That’s because these boys, who make up the rock band Throwing Wrenches, are ages 12, 15, 14 and 13 respectively.
The band, which considers itself an alternative rock group, formed in February 2012. Elder, Morper and Parvez met at Bach To Rock in Gaithersburg, where they each took individual lessons. Aleman joined in April after the group decided it still needed a bass player. The members of Throwing Wrenches have a band practice once a week at Bach To Rock, as well as continuing their individual lessons.
Elder, the guitarist and the oldest member of the band, is a freshman at Quince Orchard High School and lives in Kentlands. Aleman, who plays bass, and is an eighth grader at Shady Grove Middle School. Parvez, in eighth grade at Takoma Park Middle School, is the vocalist and keyboard player, and the youngest member of Throwing Wrenches, Morper, is the drummer and is a seventh grader at Tilden Middle School.
The boys may be young, but as musicians go, they are pros, even writing many original songs.
When asked what musicians and bands inspire them, the boys offered an impressive array of examples. Among them were Blink-182, No Doubt, Sublime, Green Day, Muse, Pink Floyd, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Aerosmith.
“Tom Morello, Lenny Kravitz and Eddie VanHalen inspire me,” Elder said. “And my style is influenced by them [as well.]”
Being in middle or high school and in a rock band is sometimes challenging. When asked how they handle all their responsibilities, the band members had several answers.
“We work hard,” said Aleman. “And we like to play in the band — so we try harder.”
Morper cited their skill at setting priorities.
Elder offered a more complex explanation. “It’s hard sometimes,” Elder said. “When we practice, I can’t hang out with my school friends because we have to make sure that we are playing to the best of our ability. [Luckily] we are all very passionate about our music and practice whenever we can. Because of sports, family or we’re going somewhere, we can’t always be together. So we make sure we practice at home at what we need to work on.”
The boys of Throwing Wrenches also cited the support of their families at helping them manage everything in their lives while pursuing their music careers.
“All our parents support our musical efforts,” said Parvez. “And we are very grateful because they always help us in any manner possible.”
In addition to funding the boys’ lessons, Elder said their parents even got the group a few gigs.
Kentlands residents who took their children trick-or-treating in the neighborhood on Halloween may have seen the band during a special performance on the deck of Elder’s home. The boys said Elder had recently moved into his current house on Chestertown Street. The previous owner had always gone all-out on Halloween with actors and a haunted house theme. Members of Throwing Wrenches decided to continue in the spirit of that tradition by making the house a memorable spot during Halloween night.
“We set up at 6:30 [p.m.] and performed for trick-or-treaters and their parents [until around 8 p.m.],” Elder said.
Aside from their Halloween concert, Throwing Wrenches has played at a variety of events, many for charity. Volunteer performances at events earlier this year led to the group being asked to play at such events as the Kentlands/Lakelands 5K. Aside from just being a generous thing to do, Parvez said volunteering at this type of event offers has added benefits.
“Each of us can earn [Student Service Learning] hours, and it also gives us a chance to get our name around,” he said.
In addition to their age and the relative newness of their band, members of Throwing Wrenches also face challenges that any musician would, such as coming up with song lyrics. Parvez cited staying focused as the biggest challenge the group faces, while Elder thought “the hardest part is developing a unique whole sound that fits all of us and using that sound to please an audience.”
So far, the boys seem to have pleased their diverse audiences. In addition to charity events, Throwing Wrenches has performed at a private party at the Kentlands Manor, as well as at the battle of the bands at 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. They will participate in a second battle of the bands at the Fillmore on Jan. 13.
Looking a little further into the future, all four band members plan to study music in college. Aleman and Parvez hope to combine their love of music with their math/science skills and become sound engineers or another field that would include both subjects. For Elder, however, it’s music or or bust.
“I hope to earn a living from being in a band. I would love to be famous one day. Making a living and becoming famous for something I love [would be] like a dream come true,” he said.
For now, though, the members of Throwing Wrenches remain focused on improving their music skills and entertaining local audiences to the best of their ability. Aleman said the boys can’t think of anything better for them right now.
“When [we] play music it’s like living in a dream.”
Check out Throwing Wrenches at www.throwingwrenchesband.com, www.facebook/throwingwrenchesband, www.youtube.com/throwing wrenchesband and www.twitter.com/ThrowWrenchBand.