Tualatin rockers finding success
Finding Lenny hopes to release its second album 'Nursery Rhymes for Modern Times,' before the end of this school year
From a second-place win at the 2007 The Next Big Thing band competition in Portland to plans for the release of a second album, the high school seniors who make up the band Finding Lenny are fearless.
The only thing that seems to make the five-member band uncomfortable is the prospect of signing autographs and coping with understanding why a loyal following of fans think Finding Lenny is cool.
The Next Big Thing competition had a lot of yelling, some smoking and the occasional curse word geared toward society, parents and politicians in general, recalled the members of Finding Lenny.
Not exactly Finding Lenny's scene - a band proudly known as 'a happy rock band.' The band's not necessarily mainstream, but its members aren't grabbing the mic, biting down on their knuckles and having growls echo from a speaker.
After Finding Lenny finished its set at the competition in February, the band members were glum. They thought their performance was less than stellar and less than average even for a garage band that practices usually only on the weekends or on holidays when all five members can get together to eat a bandmate's parents out of house and home.
So when the news came that they placed second in the competition, there was some disbelief.
'I had to see physical proof (that we placed),' said the band's guitarist Jason Bernert, of Milwaukie, a senior at La Salle High School.
The rest of the band - Alex Crowson, Chase Stonehocker, Kevin Carroll and Eric Davenhauer, all seniors at Tualatin High - nodded in agreement.
'But it was nice for recognition after all the small shows we've done,' said Crowson, the band's singer and guitarist.
But the prize - a check for $250 to be put toward recording studio time - and the upcoming sale of the band's second album - 'Nursery Rhymes for Modern Times' - seems to be all the 'recognition' Finding Lenny members actually want.
Stonehocker flinches when he recalls stories of fans - mostly other students at Tualatin High - running up to him in the hallway or after a show to ask for an autograph.
'It's awkward when people ask,' admitted Stonehocker, the band's bass guitarist.
At Tualatin High, Crowson, Stonehocker, Carroll and Davenhauer are known and recognized as 'the guys in the band.' And while that unofficial title is one they smile at, Bernert said he just doesn't understand what the fuss is all about.
'We're a high school band. We play in a basement. How are we cool? We're not cool,' stressed Bernert.
But a few loyal fans and a growing fan base on the myspace.com network would probably disagree with him.
The band's first album, which included only six songs, was released several years ago. The band's founding members, Bernert, Crowson and Stonehocker, refer to the first album as 'high schooly.' And while the 200 CDs made for the first album sold out within six months, the band is hoping that the second album will be even better and reflect the maturity of the group.
The band was originally formed about four years ago, the summer before the boys started their freshman year in high school. The five-member band as it performs today has been together for about one year. Davenhauer plays drums and Carroll plays guitar and keyboard for the band.
They practice whenever they can. Practices are usually loud - yes, the band has been asked by neighbors on a few occasions to shut their windows or to turn it down. But above all, practices seem to be a true test of the band's biggest fans - the parents.
'Our parents are the fuel of the fire because they put up with us,' Stonehocker said. He continued by describing a typical practice where five sweaty guys rock out in the garage or basement all day, eat all the food in the house, leave the house a mess and then are still invited back for another weekend practice.
As a band, the members couldn't even begin to estimate how much their parents may have spent on pizza for the band over the past few years.
During the last weekend in March, the band sat in the living room of Davenhauer's parents' home in Tigard. They discussed merchandising and the number of copies they should invest in for the second album. While they didn't wholly agree on the number of CDs they should get, the band did agree on a release date: before the end of the school year. Each of the band members has plans to attend college in the fall.
They joked about a Thanksgiving reunion show. They even talked a little about what would happen if they were offered a recording contract.
'This is our plan. If we got a chance, we might change,' Bernert said. The rest of the band seemed to nod in agreement, though Stonehocker joked that the college he was planning on attending was close to the beach and he wasn't sure if he wanted to give that up.
The band laughed and began to daydream out loud about private jets that would carry Stonehocker to his beach at any time. And when they realized that was impossible, the group settled on daydreaming first about a tour bus and then about a rusty old van that would transport the band from gig to gig and Stonehocker to his beach.
'We don't have expectations for being in a band. We don't expect to get a recording contract or go on tour,' said Stonehocker as he explained that each band member would likely take his music with him when school starts in the fall.