Heels & Picks: Random Weirdos hit the big time
BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser
When you really think about it, we are all random weirdos. Sometimes it takes kids to really get to the essence of things.
The Random Weirdos, Kailua Music School’s flagship pre-teen rock band, makes its first appearance on stage at Blaisdell Arena this week, having landed the coveted opening spot for Jack White.
So who are these kids?
Guitarist Sloane Shapiro, 11, drummer Luke Miller, 12, and bass player Tristan Miller, 13, started the band when they were still in their single digits. They are now joined by guitarist Storm Wilson, 12, and vocalist Aspen Rice, 13.
The band began under the supervision of their parents and the mentorship of Aaron Carey, director at Kailua Music School. Carey, an audio engineer by trade, offered up practice space at Kailua Music School to the band in 2011. Prior to taking on this kid band project, he recorded artists like Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow, Dokken, Megadeth and many others.
Former members of the Random Weirdos have gone on to form The Bitten and LIV the Band. From summer 2012 to spring 2014, the band had an alternative sound and recorded a demo of guitarist Olivia Cargile’s originals. These days, pop punk, horror punk and hard rock are the prevalent genres performed by the band.
Full disclosure: As a vocal coach for Shapiro and Wilson at the school, I spend time with this band every week. The girls and I work on vocal technique and strength, talk about band dynamics and challenges and even spend some time talking about stage outfits and makeup.
(For the record, I told them they are so young they really don’t need makeup — even for the stage.)
At our first vocal coaching session together, Shapiro explained to me the sound each member lends to the band.
“I’m mostly into horror punk,” she said. This coming from a petite 11-year-old girl with wide eyes, an angelic face and a bob cut. Sloane slays me; she is smart and funny and is now shredding on her new pink electric guitar. And here’s a little piece of Honolulu newspaper history for you – Shapiro is the granddaughter of former Honolulu Star-Bulletin managing editor and current Star-Advertiser columnist David Shapiro.
Wilson and Rice, the newest members, bring a brightness and energy to the group and Wilson’s guitar skills are solid.
The Miller boys, Luke and Tristan, are sons of longtime Honolulu concert promoter Jason Miller, who runs Hawaiian Express Records. These kids have grown up around rock ‘n’ roll.
If the name Random Weirdos sounds familiar to you, you may know them from the weekly Kailua Farmer’s Market where they were fixtures (it’s hard to forget a group of young kids rocking out on the sidewalk, no?). They have played at venues across the island, from the Hard Rock Cafe to the 50th State Fair and the Haleiwa Arts Festival. They opened for The Vandals and Sean Wheeler & Vander Schloss, and were semi-finalists in the 2013 edition of Star 101.9 Battle of the Bands at Dave & Buster’s.
As Carey and I prepped the kids to crush it at the Blaisdell this week, I took some time to chat with Shapiro and Wilson about the Jack White gig and the band’s background:
HONOLULU STAR ADVERTISER: How do you feel about the Jack White opening spot, girls?
SLOANE SHAPIRO: I’m excited but kind of nervous.
STORM WILSON: It’s our biggest show so far and a good opportunity to get in front of a big audience.
SA: How long have you two been in the band?
SS: There’s been Random Weirdos for four years, I’m one of the original members.
SW: I started at the end of August of last year.
SA: What is your favorite song in the set?
SS: As far as structure goes, I really like “Give It All.” The vocals are fun and the structure of the song is really good.
SW: I really like “Damnit”, because I really like Blink 182. It’s kind of about a guy who just broke up with his girlfriend and he’s realizing that this is going to happen to him a lot. This is growing up.
SA: You two alternate rhythm and lead guitar; tell me about that.
SS: We don’t really say who is the lead guitar player, because I feel like it would put someone down to say who is lead and who is rhythm. I’m better at speed and thrash and Storm is better at picking and “nice” leads.
SA: What was your first gig?
SS: Our first show was at Anna O’Brien’s and we only played one song. About a year or a year and a half after we started the band, we got a weekly Thursday show in front of a restaurant called Kealoha, right by the farmer’s market. Now we do Boardriders on Wednesdays.
SA: Where did the name the Random Weirdos come from?
SS: That name came from the young mind of nine year old Luke Miller, who first wanted to call us Random Weirdos with Machetes. But then we decided that Random Weirdos was more appropriate.
SA: Where did the metal and punk influences come from?
SW: From our parents. We listen to what our parents listen to. And also from Aaron Carey at Kailua Music School. My Mom liked Operation Ivy and bands like that. I’d look them up on the Internet and find more bands from the ones she likes.
SS: I think when we first started we were taking our influence from the Descendants, because they are heavy but also silly. We like to keep some humor in our sets.
SW: Also, we’re just kids. It would probably be weird if we were super-serious.
Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.