The Random Weirdos, the flagship preteen rock band made up of kids who all attended Kailua Music School, came into the public eye in a big way with an April performance at Blaisdell Arena, opening for one of rock ‘n’ roll’s biggest players, Jack White.
Who are these kids?
Founding members Sloane Shapiro (11, guitar), Luke (12, drums) and Tristan Miller (13, bass) started the band when their ages were still in the single digits. The are now joined by Storm Wilson (12, guitar) and Aspen Rice (13, vocals).
The band began under the supervision of the members’ parents and, notably, under the mentorship of Aaron Carey, director at Kailua Music School.
In the fall of 2011, Carey, an audio engineer by trade, offered up practice space at Kailua Music School, along with extraordinary amounts of his own time. Before taking on this youthful band project, Carey was known for his work in the studio with such musical artists as Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow, Dokken, Megadeth and many others.
Some earlier members of the Random Weirdos went on to form The Bitten and LIV the Band. The band explored an alternative sound from 2012 onward, and recorded a demo of guitarist Olivia Cargile’s originals.
These days, pop-punk, horror punk and hard rock are the band’s prevalent genres.
I got to know members of the band as a vocal coach for the school, where I work with Shapiro and Wilson.
At our first vocal coaching session, Shapiro explained to me the sound that 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 hair cut in a bob, who also has a wicked sense of humor.
Shapiro, the granddaughter of former Honolulu Star-Bulletin managing editor and current Honolulu Star-Advertiser columnist David Shapiro, is also focused on shredding on her pink electric guitar.
Wilson and Rice, the newest members, bring a brightness and energy to the group, while Wilson’s guitar skills are solid.
The Miller boys, Luke and Tristan, are the sons of longtime Honolulu concert promoter Jason Miller, who runs Hawaiian Express and 808shows.com. 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 Farmers Market, where they were fixtures (hard to forget a group of young kids rocking out on the sidewalk). 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 & Zander Schloss and were semifinalists in the Dave & Buster’s/Star 101.9 Battle of the Bands in 2013.
I took some time to chat with Shapiro and Wilson about the background of the band. Here’s what they had to say.
STAR-ADVERTISER: How did you feel about opening for Jack White on an arena stage?
SLOANE SHAPIRO: I was excited but kind of nervous.
STORM WILSON: It was 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 Random Weirdos?
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 "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 farmers market in Kailua. 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 9-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.